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Can Courteney Deliver The Dirt?

A sense of humor would help

by j. brotherlove

Cox in red dressGay men love scandal and bitchy women. So it’s no surprise that we would be interested in watching Courteney Cox in Dirt, FX’s racy television show about the inner workings of a tabloid magazine.

That description alone conjures up images of sex, drugs, plastic surgery and blackmail. While only a few episodes in, Dirt has proven to be vaguely entertaining. However, it fails to live up to its hype.

The promotion of Dirt was relentless, allowing the premiere to deliver the second highest rating debut in FX’s history. However, ratings for the second episode dropped significantly. Clearly the audience isn’t completely blown away. And it doesn’t help that most critics hate it.

A popular complaint is that Courteney Cox (who also serves as an executive producer) fails to deliver as Lucy Spiller, editor of DrrtNow Magazine. Sure, Cox looks great as she performs her best Vampira. However, Lucy’s ruthlessness pales when compared to Ari Gold (Entourage), Wilhelmina Slater (Ugly Betty) or Miranda Priestly (Devil Wears Prada). The truth is Cox played ruthless more convincingly as Gail Weathers in the Scream trilogy.

Nearly all of the supporting characters on Dirt have called Lucy heartless. Instead of concentrating on her drive, Matthew Carnahan (creator, writer, director, producer) has exposed weaknesses in Lucy’s armor a bit too early, in my opinion. Furthermore, her loneliness as a driven business woman seems affected and textbook. She should be eating young men for dinner.

Another problem is, unlike other entertainment and magazine villains, neither Lucy or the show has a sense of humor about themselves. This is a tabloid magazine for gosh sakes. Where else should characters be more tongue-in-cheek?

According to TVWeek Blog, FX President John Landgraf acknowledges the lack of humor in the show and expected the ratings to drop during the second and third episodes. “I really love the show from about midway through the season on,” he said. “Whether the audience sticks around that long, we’ll see.”

It’s a toss up. We still have a couple of episodes until then. Already the show spinners are promising cameos by Jennifer Anniston and gossip blogger Perez Hilton to maintain buzz.

The show has some good supporting characters already. Ian Hart is fantastic as Don Konkey, a functional schizophrenic, paparazzo and Lucy’s right arm. Josh Stewart gives desperate actor Holt McLaren some dimension. And watching DrrtNow’s reporter Willa McPherson (played by Alexandra Breckenridge) descend into debauchery to get a story is promising.

Perhaps the problem has more to do with the story lines than the cast. Ironically while Lucy will stop at nothing to get a great story for her magazine, Courteney leans more toward playing it safe when depicting scandals:

“There’s many times that I’ll call up and say ‘guys, I really know that person.’ Not that it’s the person but it sounds too much like someone that could possibly take that the wrong way …. it really happens like where we have to protect. Because yeah. And so I’m very careful about that.” [Source: Washington Post]

For a show named Dirt on FX, a network where masturbation and words like “cum” and “shit” are standard fare, scaling back scandals seems to be counterintuitive. To be fair, Dirt does try. Already we’ve seen Rick Fox get dildoed by porn star Stormy Daniels and watched Don snap photos of a Christian pop star hospitalized for burns to her face caused by freebasing.

Not bad for a start. But the show will need to step it up if it hopes to retain or build viewers. And some good soundbites wouldn’t hurt either (I can’t remember one good line). For now, it remains on my TiVo schedule. What’s your verdict?

pub: 01/18/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 0 | subscribe

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