Monday, April 30, 2012

Service terminated

WARNING: Contains major spoilers for “Lip Service” episode 2. Also, a lot of curse words. And, yes, even a mention of Ilene Chaiken. Forgive me, it is all unfortunately unavoidable.

Right, so, HOLY FREAKING HELL WHAT THE GOOD GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Um, they killed Cat. Like they really, really very, very killed Cat. I believe the sequence was Cat, text, car, dead. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. More than 24 hours after watching the episode and I’m still equal parts shocked and perplexed. And, much like the now very dead Cat’s signature facial expression, I have furrowed brow that just won’t quit.

In the interest of rational discussion and to prevent me from just repeating eight paragraphs worth of expletives, I feel it’s best to approach the whole “OH MY GOD THEY KILLED CAT” issue from a variety of angles, one at a time.

First, let’s talk story. As far as storytelling devices go killing off a major character can be high risk but also high reward. Think killing Joyce on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Think killing Rita on “Dexter.” Think killing Gary on “Thirtysomething.” (Anyone here old enough to remember Thirtysomething? Anyone? Moving on.) But with risk comes failure and we only need to say the name Dana and gay ladies the world over shake their fists at an angry sky and scream, “Damn you, Ilene Chaiken, damn you to hell!”

This falls somewhere between those two. This is no “The Body.” The emotional resonance just wasn’t there. It wasn’t. Cat, while integral, is not as beloved. In fact my most prevalent emotion when seeing her was baffled annoyance. You have the perfect girlfriend, you tit. Stop mucking it up with that bean pole. So I can’t entirely say I’m sad to see her go. So in terms of losing Cat as a character, I’ll take it with a shoulder shrug and move on. (Though, this is nothing against the lovely Laura Fraser – who did the very best brow furrowing she could with a character whose entire existence revolved around fastidious indecision.)

Next, let’s talk about execution. Sure, they killed Cat – but how did they do while doing it? Here I’d say I give them good marks for showing how utterly horrible the sudden death of a loved one can be. Because watching that hour of television was utterly horrible. The painful silence. The awkward decisions. The terrible emptiness. It was a pretty miserable hour of television because death is pretty miserable business.

But then, sometimes it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, death is death and it’s always bad. Still I can say from personal experience that amid the horrible sadness can also be glimpses of, dare I say it, the unstoppable human spirit. That thing that propels us to go on, love each other, do better, try harder. We didn’t see that – not one bit. Granted, it’s early. Cat just died. Everyone’s still in shock. It’s all so utterly horrible and raw. But let’s hope it’s coming, let’s hope really hard.

And finally, let’s talk impact. While I’m a tad “meh” about killing off Cat as a character, I’m 100 percent “WTF” about killing off Cat the character with relationships with all the other characters. Because this is where Cat’s death will have the biggest effect. Cat, for all her flaws, was a bit like the glue. Obviously there was the triangle with Sam and Frankie. Then her brother and Tess. So her death won’t just have a ripple effect; it’ll be a monster tsunami. And this is where I feel the writers went wrong. Sure, they felt painted into a corner because Laura was leaving for another show (which, by the way, she was ultimately dropped from – doh!), but there are so many other ways to make a character scarce that don’t blow up an entire season like killing her did.

And, make no mistake, that is what the writers have done – they’ve detonated a bomb on Season 2. When you kill a major, major character off in the second episode of a brand new season you ensure that that entire season will be about dealing with the repercussions of that death. When The Chaiken did in Season 3 of “The L Word” she at least had the decency to do it with only two episodes left. Sure, it still sucked big, hairy donkey balls. But then they were able to regroup after the season, pretend enough time had passed and move the fuck on.

“Lip Service,” on the other hand, has made moving on damn near impossible and that means more than likely we’re in for a lot of sad, angry, depressed, confused and gloomy lesbians on our TV. Oh, goody. Just what I always wanted. While we’re at it, does anyone feel like clubbing some baby seals for fun? Look, there are so few shows just about gay women on the television that it seems a damn shame to make the one we have such a bummer. And while I certainly don’t think that artists have a mandated responsibility to make all queer programming smiley, happy, sunshiney goodness, I can’t help but feel disappointed. This is not the TV show I signed up for. This is not the sexy, sudsy lesbian drama I dreamed about.

The thing is, it didn’t have to go this way. Sure, they were handcuffed by the need to write off Laura’s character. But death seems like the most severe and unforgiving way to handle the situation. She could have freaked out and left. I mean, it worked for Frankie. She could have gotten another job and left. Sure, also sudden, but less devastating for the other characters. Hell, she could have been replaced with another actress. I mean, it worked for “Bewitched.” Anything but this. Anything but turning it into a big lesbian downer.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope the writers do something amazing. I hope they find a way to bring back that something special, make us all smile again. I really do. But for now, and for I’m guessing the foreseeable future, my prevalent emotions remain HOLY FREAKING HELL WHAT THE GOOD GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

27 comments:

Ceridwyn2 said...

I watched Lip Service this morning - after being sick all weekend - and my jaw nearly hit the floor when Cat was killed. An OMG WTF moment.

Once I got over the initial shock (well, it sort of subsided for a while), I really enjoyed the depths of portrayals of the other characters in relation to how they were to Cat. Frankie was the ex who wasn't quite, but couldn't publicly acknowledge that, nor could she get any sort of comfort from her abandoner mother; Sam the hot cop girlfriend who is utterly torn to pieces and not quite knowing what to do with herself - and damned didn't Heather Pearce rock those scenes both at the hospital morgue and in the apartment?; To Ed, the younger brother who relied on his bigger sister for support and a gateway of friends; Tess, a fun oddball friend from school as they grew older maintained that close friendship. Even Sadie & Alex, though not close with Cat were impacted because of the circle of friendships. Even Jay deciding that he's going to move to London because to work in the same place he worked with Cat would be too much without her.

Cat's sudden death has an emotional impact on those around her. It can't not have an effect. How they move on from that death will define them in ways they probably never knew. And it doesn't all have to be depressing.

We have four episodes left in this series, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. Frankly, the writing is a whole lot tighter than the L Word was.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a link where we can watch it in the US? I loved season 1 and watched it by downloading it from a link you posted. I can't wait to watch season 2. Is it available anywhere?

Thanks Dorothy, you rock!

E.T. said...

As per usual very well put D, much more eloquent than my "WTFF No no no no no no!!!Dream, right?It's a dream!" reaction.
I'm afraid the damage done to the plot is beyond repear. Both in terms of the characters' dynamics and unecessary drama introduced. The story will either turn unreal, boring or simply too freaking depressing. I honestly can't take another episode of the sort.
Credit though where creadit is due. Powerful acting and believable writing. This episode was extremely intense and will hardly be forgotten. Though I'd rather it did.

Anonymous said...

Gary! *sobs*.

Thirtysomething seriously confused my burgeoning lesbian radar as I fancied every one of the main cast (well not Elliot, duh, obviously,).

Gary & Michael were two of my few man crushes. Gary was really an honourable girl though & couldn't hold a candle to Ellyn & Hope. Mmmmm. Wish there was fan fic back then....

Back O/T - Lip Service - Execution of the car crash was stunning.Just jaw dropping TV. But feels like heart has left show now - if it wasn't for Tess not sure I'd bother watching next week...

mandy said...

I'm not very sad about this all. I actually think she's a horrible actress and I'm also rather glad they dropped her from Homeland. Her replacement is much much better.

I do hope Lip Service doesn't get to "drama-y" though.

Anonymous said...

Have to say was as surprised as everyone else at Cat's ending, brilliantly done though it was. But with only six episodes per season I suppose it isn't all that strange that there just isn't the time for subtle, either in plot development or anything else. Also given that Laura Frazer was bailing out anyway I think you could forgive the writer her fit of pique and making sure there was no way back for the character. It is still fairly ground breaking TV for the BBC and to have one of your major characters bail so early in season 2 doesn't help toward getting a season 3. And anyway as for WTF moments have just seen ep 4 of season 4 of sanctuary and now Dr Helen Magnus has a foot on each bus, who saw that coming!!!

iampecola said...

The thing is, it didn’t have to go this way. Sure, they were handcuffed by the need to write off Laura’s character. But death seems like the most severe and unforgiving way to handle the situation. She could have freaked out and left.

I'm of the opinion--an increasingly minority opinion, apparently--that given the circumstances, it did have to go this way. Could Cat have left? Yeah, sure. She could've realized that she couldn't continue on the perilous path she was on and that she need to get away to find out what she wanted. That's totally plausible.

But what doesn't strike me as being as plausible is the idea that Frankie and/or Sam (though that seems less likely, once she finds out about the affair) would let her leave. Had Cat just left, I can't imagine Frankie not moving heaven and earth to find her--her palpable grief showed she loved Cat that much. Their relationship was in a different place than it was when Frankie left Cat so I'm not sure the response would be comparable.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Dororthy,

I'm old enough to remember "thirtysomething" and old enough to have completely forgotten that Gary died, so thanks for that!

To the commenter who thinks it's groundbreaking for the BBC to kill off a major character at anytime, treat yourself to a bit of MI5 (Spooks).

Having watched the aforementioned MI5, I'm not one for hand-to-mouth in shock but DAMN! Thanks for the string of expletives Ms. S.. I feel much better now...

Anonymous said...

Sorry obviously didn't make myself clear, did not mean killing off major characters was ground breaking, I have fond memories of Spooks, though in their defence they did tend to do the deed as part of the season finale! I meant that a prime time (even if BBC3) lesbian drama made with licence payers money is still somewhat new for the Beeb...

Anonymous said...

I missed all spoiler news before I watched this episode so when that car scene happened, I was like oh ok, she's gonna go to the hospital and she's going to get busted by the bracelet. Oh, and now she's gonna have her near death experience. Oh no, they're calling her death but wait, she'll take that gasping breath in a sec...wait what? What do you mean she's dead??

Then I HAD to forward to the end and see if this was some stupid dream episode and IT WASN'T!

A few hours after my initial shock and outrage, I calmed down and reading Harriet Braun's explanation, I am so on board with where iampecola is coming from. Honestly, I hated Cat's character, wishy-washy and whiney, hated her. But she certainly was the glue for the group. If she had somehow just left the city to go to London, no way would Frankie not follow, she's got nothing keeping her in Glasglow (certainly not her mother). And let's say hypothetically that she somehow left and Frankie and/or Sam didn't follow. What reason would Sam stick around with the other main characters?

Sam needs another story to follow, and this will be the discovery of the affair and maybe because of the continued interaction, she might just get together with Sexy Lexy.

Faffernella Finkerdink said...

There I was...randomly trawling the t'internet highways and byways like a cyber version of the littlest hobo looking for posts about this series to feed my Lipservice heavy habit when I found your blog.How the hell it's escaped me till now is a mystery even the Discovery channel can't do an injustice to...in simple terms "Clear out the guest room ...this pups found a home".
Re: Episode 2 of Lipservice
Here's my tuppence worth...when life gives you lemons or more specifically when one of the main characters in your show decides to up and leave you have little choice but to make lemonade...or again more specifically in this case kill them in a manner so abrupt and visually harrowing that it makes your entire audience who have invested hours of their time in connecting to said character throw up their collective dinners, drop their jaws and rush to whatever social media they can to talk about it ! Why ? Because no one is gonna pop a rib over a sudden job change or move away...and to be honest the character deserved to be talked about and lamented over...not just forgotten and waved off in a taxi. Sure despite the choice of having the character of Cat in the show being taken out of the writers hands there were choices on how best to handle that available that didn't involve a mortuary but did we really want an endless unfinished mess to what could/should/might have been forever in the wings of possibility or is it better to have a finality that allows the rest of the characters a superb opportunity to evolve and grow beyond the overwhelming triangle of inevitable and done to death 'will they won't they' that was the Sam/Cat/Frankie arc ? Wipe those tears ladies ...and get ready for what I think just might be a journey into darkness diversity, black humour and hopefully ultimately salvation and survival of characters( and actors) that deserve and are most certainly up to the challenge ! The best shows don't imitate real life...they remind us how random and unfair and sometimes stunnigly beautiful and awesome life IS.
Faffernella will be back because this blog is just too damn great :)

Anonymous said...

I did know that Cat would die due to the brazilian spoilers from almost 2 weeks ago thankfully there is no gonna be more spoilers since the transmission of Lip service stoped over there..:)
I liked Cat before she cheated the very first time,I also must admit that I hated Cat this season,but I think that despite all that I will miss Cat.
The Cat hit scene was amazing, I mean I knew she was about to get hit by a car,but never expected to be that realistic, I dislike seeing Laura's Fraser Characters get killed by cars this already happend twice,this had much more impact. I wish Sam could hook up with Lexy sadly I don't think that this is gonna be the case since Tess is the one who is gonna get Lexy...:(
The most I hate about this is people still comparing Lip Service with the L word there are 2 different shows,Lip Service is/was much better,the L word was groundbreaking. I can't still get over the Dana thing but I'm already over the Cat thing...

Amanda said...

Oh my god I'm just about to start watching it and based on the rampant capitalization I'm really afraid....haha

Amanda

lai2 said...

Dorothy4life <3

--Forgive my english iz ze crap--

To me suckerpunching your audience does not equal good writing. When reading comments, people are still shocked and can't get over how extremely shocking it was as "this has never happened to them before". Annoyingly enough tho many seem to think this is because of the amazing, brilliant writing...

I really object. You are still in shock because - you (the viewer who makes ratings go up, note to writers of lesbian shows) were innocently looking at all these hot people being you know.. really hot... Doing oh so hot things which made you think of some other hot things and then YOU GET PUNCHED IN THE FACE LOOKING AT PRETTY WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

With that said I am desperate for hot lesbians with hot accents on my screen so ofc I'll keep watching

Rosie said...

Actually,yes it blew me away.But I have to say that for me, it showed a part of life that I could relate to.Cat was so deep in her thoughts and what was going on with her betrayal that she was oblivious to everything around her.I thought they protrayed that perfectly.And,something like that happened to me after breaking up with my partner...so deep in thought and emotion,the whole works,that I seriously began to cross the street(my light was green by the way)but I didn't see the car blowing the light and I was almost a Cat. As far as her character, I am glad this whole love triangle is over.Watching that made me feel as bad as watching her accident.I am looking forward to how the rest of the characters can develop now that the main theme of cheating has been dealt with.

Anonymous said...

Hiya Dot,

Love the blog! Disagree with some of your comments! I agree with some of the others that it wouldn't have been very believable to have Cat just move away. Plus the story line made for great acting and emotional response. It was true to life and maybe we've just had very different experiences with death and loss but I think people reacted realistically.

I don't think that it leaves doom and gloom for the rest of the season as I think Lexy and Sadie were brought in because they don't have close ties to Cat so can keep the humour going through them. All the while giving issues like the disclosure of betrayal a spotlight for drama. I think it has made me sympathise with the characters more than the Frankly - pun intended- dul triangle.

Let's hope Lip Service does deliver in the drama together with the light hearted humour!

roussefolle said...

I guess one just don't cheat in Britain, or else.
I didn't liked Cat character, but appreciated actress. Just like Jenny Schecter. This one also should be killed in second episode of second season.
I hope BBC is gonna make LS watchable for the rest of the season, tough it's gonna be difficult.

flickity said...

I read your blog pretty religiously but i tend to lurk and not comment although I do enjoy it hugely. One of the writers of Lip Service did a blogette in the aftermath of the episode to explain why they took the direction they did with Cats character and I thought I'd post you the link as I dont know if its something youd seen

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcthree/2012/04/lip-service-cat.shtml

It clarifys things a little for example why Cat didnt just move away etc
I shall now fade back into the shadows

Anonymous said...

Homeland is a great show,the best drama on TV by far,so she was right

ukelelegaily said...

i am SO GLAD that, as the programme makers have been so keen to point out, lip service is NOTHING LIKE the L word. ok so they have a character that looks like shane (except she's blonde) and acts like shane and even has a job like shane ended up with. but she's NOTHING LIKE SHANE, ok? and then they go kill off a main character - the character that was, like you say, the glue of the whole show, BUT LOOK EVERYONE THIS IS NOTHING REPEAT NOTHING LIKE DANA IN THE L-WORD OK? when i watch this show i am REPEATEDLY STRUCK BY HOW UNLIKE THE L WORD IT IS. no, really, I AM. no. REALLY.

Anonymous said...

I really don't see how recasting would have worked.

fridax said...

To previous Anon... Maybe they could have switched Laura Fraser for Morena Baccarin. Her Inara was deliciously label-free.

Anyway, can't say that I enjoyed the episode but for the good acting. Quite shocked, but hoping that something good comes out of it.

Rankin said...

22 comments and no one has a word to say about Tara?! Sure, Joyce in BtVS was one thing, but Tara?! And you know what makes that worse? The fact that she only stayed dead because Amber Benson wasn't available for shooting the following season. Yep. Tara would be alive if it wasn't for crummy actresses with other commitments. Sigh. Where the hell else could she be?

I think there's a lesson to be learned from all of this. If you're gay and your name isn't longer than four letters, you're likely to join the others: Dana, Tara, Cat.

Sam (UK) said...

was anyone else impressed with the way the scene was shot...

Once i'd ridden the.. oh../um../meh wave. i rewound the scene to marvel at the BBCs special effects arsenal.

im glad my tv license has some use.

Anonymous said...

Why Couldnt she have just miraculously opened her eyes and everything would be just peachy >:(

Anonymous said...

laura fraser's performance is awesome, she'll be deeply missed.

Anonymous said...

laura fraser's performance is awesome, she'll be deeply missed.