Monday, April 30, 2012
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?