Jul 25, 2007

GH: Night Shift - 1x02 - MAKING IT RACIAL

Episode 2 of Night Shift was evidently brought to you by the National Association Of Unbelievably Simplistic Civil Rights Commentary on Gunshy Daytime Television. This (past) week, Toussaint carefully kneads his mop and reminisces about the Good Old Days, mean old Dr. Ford blames Nurse Regina for singlehandedly destroying all the progress made by "the race" (I swear) in the last fifty or so years because of a clerical error, and then Stan and Epiphany have kind of a dime store Raisin in the Sun moment. Very lame. WILLIEEEEE!!!


No, no, Jason, that's not how you mop. Let Lando show you. It's okay. Let...let him show you. Treat the mop like a, uh, a lady, or your, uh...gender non-specific equivalent. Your boss, that's fine too. Let Lando show you how to lovingly ply your mop. Caress it. Sway with it. Yeah, all right, enough. Stop it, Billy Dee.


It Had To Happen: Maxie has Ass Cancer. Are you really surprised? Are any of us? Only that it was done on a soap, perhaps, but as we are constantly being reminded by the various little outre bits like this on NS, this is cable bitches! Cable watch us go! Now, was it necessary for me to learn all the intricacies of Maxie's gross staph infection, I think no. The question is how long I'm expected to go along with Maxie's merry, disease-ridden whoredom. I will say this for her and Kirsten Storms, again; a lot of the comic dialogue with her and Sneed and later Epiphany about it is actually, well, comic, and KS actually does well with it. Frankly, if Maxie could segue into being a more concretely comic character a la Lucy Coe or her mother, with less raunchy sex, it'd be the best thing for her right now. Otherwise, the
constant plot loop of "I have crazy and medically unsafe adventures with sex and drugs/oops I have a paper heart, 'm sorry BJ!" is getting old.

And now, back to ye olde thesis statement: Dr. Ford has to MAKE IT RACIAL. Regina and her clerical errors of supposed racial inequality. "Fifty years ago, no, even twenty years ago...!" Yeah, yeah, yeah, all right, people, break it up. I can't decide how to feel about this shit, honestly, and feel a little uncomfortable addressing it as a LILY WHITE COMMENTATOR. This is really an entry for Darn but he doesn't want to blog the show. Now, it's one thing for the writers behind NS to acknowledge openly within the narrative the fact that all the characters talking about this stuff in the episode - competency, labor rights, etc. - are black and interacting together. That does take some guts, because on most soaps today (excepting the Victoria Rowell years) , you still won't see minority characters acknowledging shared heritage or cross-cultural concerns in any real way, mostly because I think much of daytime still is afraid of scaring old ladies in Peoria. That's also part of why you still don't see many black man/white woman pairings on soaps, because of that disgusting old racist trope (except for John and Evangeline, they were just gross) . I think you generally don't see a minority character on daytime aggressively addressing social concerns because TPTB are afraid of showing that minority character as being "political" or "angry" and therefore somehow "frightening" to white suburban viewers. RJ on OLTL has dreadlocks and angrily berates the police, therefore, RJ is perpetually "shady" and "dangerous" and kept off-sides, giving brilliant thespian Tim Stickney nothing to do. And therefore, you know, Brian and Claudia just hang out at the disco, or Derek Frye and Hank Gannon just stand around saying things like "Be careful, Tad" or "How are you holding up, Bo?" I dunno, Hank, maybe he's holding up the same way he was when you started asking him that question ten years ago.

So yeah, it's one thing for these characters' potential shared concerns to be acknowledged. I think that takes some courage, and I applaud Michele ValJean if she is responsible for the ratio of black characters on NS. My problem with what was done in Episode 2 is in the execution. My problem is when daytime does what it often does, just skates over the concepts in the most fly-by-night, sanitized, one-size-fits-all way, and that's what I felt NS did. Dr. Ford, Regina, Epiphany, Stan, and Toussaint are all black, therefore NS says they all must share the same or similar concerns and are dominated by thinking about them throughout the episode. And when they do talk about this stuff, they're relating it back to simply the civil rights struggle and the generational gap and then they mouth platitudes in the most two-dimensional way. That's when I think you've got a problem. You can't start to deal in a decidedly un-daytime, unvarnished idea and then shine it up and make it as PC, soap-glossy and simplistic as possible and then call it a "message show" and pat yourself on the back. I acknowledge that this is an hour show on SoapNet and you've got about forty-five to fifty minutes and numerous other storylines, but what exactly did we take from this stuff? Dr. Ford is a meanie and Epiphany is bossy and Regina and Stan are the fyoocha? It was like lazy cliff notes "message" stuff, like an episode of Growing Pains; Dr. Ford is shown as a gruff taskmaster looking back on history, but the show tells us that is all that he is, being unreasonably mean to Regina, without bothering to show us another facet to his character or elucidate on his personal experience. Toussaint dismisses him as just "a jackass" while pumping fists with Stan, who, given an activist's voice and shown positively, gets his mob connections glossed over just like Spinelli's, and Epiphany is shown as unreasonable as usual, just an "overprotective mother" (and I hate Epiphany, but also hate Stan - but I love Kiko Ellsworth) . The characters are filed into A or B-types with a little lip service to the civil rights struggle and no further dialogue or depth. That's not taking a real risk to me, and that's why I roll my eyes at NS trying to Make It Racial. They wanted to try to jolt people by dealing with almost all the black characters (except Lainey, and oh lord that is another story) and maybe get a pat on the back from the press, but they didn't want to have to do anything actually substantive or consequential. It's like the director in Soapdish on the show's new "soup kitchen in the Bahamas" storyline, full of hot model types as the "homeless" -- "we're making a statement here, people; let's not underline the statement, let's just make it!" And that's what daytime still does to this day. And that's my problem with this stuff. SHIELDS UP.


Now watch them spend all of Episode 3 on a careful, reasoned dissection of these characters. I would laugh my ass off and eat so much crow. I will say that I like the use of another hospital strike storyline a la Port Charles and Kiko Ellsworth is still a fine actor and a fine man. I am beginning to wonder if there is a mole on-staff for the nefarious "Medcam" (or whatever) that Dr. Ford talks about, who changed Regina's entry on the bypass surgery, and if that mole could in fact be mean old Dr. Ford, the least obvious suspect. That would be very Guza.

Another STFU Epiphany moment: Epiphany throws shade on Nurse Jolene about Jason; "that man there is way out of your league." O SRY PIFFNY I DIDN NO THE BLOODTHIRSTY HITMAN WUZ 2 GUD 4 ME!!

First date etiquette lesson from Jase: NO CARJACKING, ASSAULT OR POTENTIAL RAPE.


...They come together in an emotional moment, collide, and come out with a mutual human understanding, and then there are no gay people! It's just like Crash! Seriously, what the fuck was that?! Corporal Emo wants his drugs, or maybe he wants Lainey to understand his pain and go on a date with him, so he ATTACKS HER IN THE PARKING LOT. Smooth. And this being a Bob Guza show, it's all about Sgt. Macho putting his boot to the neck of the woman who's been "putting on airs." "I was making a point," Cpl. Emo tells Lainey, about his helplessness due to Gulf War Syndrome or whatever (he's a Iraq vet) . That's great. Why did Lainey not also "make a point" by taking an aluminum bat to his crotch? The man goddamn fucking mugged her in the fucking goddamn parking lot and now he wants her to take him on as a patient and go out with him. Jesus H. fucking Christ. What the fuckity fuck. I can't even, okay, nevermind. Nevermind.

I will give Dr. 21 Jump Street some props this week in his bit with Maxie, despite still being absolutely Christing ugly. "How good are you?" "The best. At what?" Hee.

There is actually no reason for my putting up this shot of Spinelli's spread legs. Um, I apologize. To humanity.

Slow episode, slow week, lame recap. Next plz.

1 comment:

zarathelawyer said...

Right there with you, on everything. Except Spinelli's legs.