One of my favorite side stories in Queer as Folk is about Hunter, the young HIV positive street urchin that Michael and Ben adopt. When he's first introduced, he tells the pair that the reasons he's homeless and hustling is because his father is dead and his mother is in prison for killing him. Come to find out, his mother isn't in prison at all. He's actually a runaway, but the reason he left and the reason he lied is because his mother is horribly abusive. She actually got him started in hustling by pimping him out to guys so she could take the money, presumably for drugs. It makes the moment when she tries to come back into his life and take custody from Michael and Ben very tense. But she's a bad mother and a bad person and Hunter's fear and hatred of her makes perfect sense. It was revealed this week that Jordi's mother isn't dead after all, she's just a bad mother so he's been denying her existence. By bad mother I don't mean that she molested him, or that she allowed other people to molest him for money, I mean she likes to play poker and had parties where other people came over to play poker with her. She doesn't seem to abuse him, she doesn't seem to take these men to bed while he tries to sleep in the next room, she doesn't even seem to neglect him to an extreme extent. Sure there are nights when he has to cook dinner for himself, but in the flashback we see him doing so, he seems to be old enough to do it. So what it all boils down to is that Jordi doesn't feel as though his mother loves him as much as he thinks she should have. I'm not going to say that that's not scaring in and of itself, but I will say that it makes for a significantly less compelling story than Hunter's story with his mother. And for the record, the fact that his mother is the same woman Dr. McAndrew slept with last week doesn't make the story interesting, it just makes it melodramatic and soapy.
So that's the intro to this particular episode which left me with one overall feeling: I don't think Red Band Society is going to make the cut. I've been talking the show up to myself for awhile now because I really do want it to be good. I want to like it for many reasons, but the fact of the matter is I'm just not sure. I think there's a good show in here somewhere, but how deep is it buried, and how long will it take for the writers and producers to find it?
I don't know what the answers are to those questions, but I do know the answer isn't after 3 episodes. Which might be as it should be, 3 hours isn't necessarily long enough for a show to have found its footing, TV is a marathon and not a sprint. But how many missteps can a show make over the course of first three hours before it's acceptable to move on from it?
This week shows us that episodes in which Kara shows no kind of depth leave her seeming less than one dimensional. In the first two episodes, there were brief moments of honesty between her and one of the other characters, but this week the hour is just full of her being awful. And the more she does drugs and screws around in spite of her doctor's orders, the more I think the only reasonable outcome for her story is death.
This week shows us that there's an even worse use for Charlie's voice over than we'd known before: Charlie takes elements of the story that are implicit but obvious and makes them explicit in a fashion that tells me that the show thinks we're too stupid to figure out for ourselves. Charlie is a lot more active this week. It's almost as if without someone falling unconscious and heading to the inbetween space, the show is looking to justify the actor's presence on the show. Which leads me to wonder is Griffin Gluck some kind of big deal I've just never heard about until now? Is he the top billed actor on the show? Because the writers seem to put him to more use than they do Octavia Spencer.
Speaking of which, after three episodes, are we any closer to figuring out who Nurse Jackson actually is? She worries this week that if she can't figure out something redeeming about Kara, then it's possible she'll just let her die at some point. It's a worry, and I understand that, but I don't think we've been given anything to suggest that that's honestly possible, so it doesn't feel like a real character development moment so much as a weak justification for a large portion of the episode.
The only storyline within the episode that felt real and organic to me was the story about the jealousy between Dash and Leo. The strongest element of the series thus far has consistently been the kids trying their best to just be kids in the face of everything they're dealing with. And the connection between Dash and Leo seems to be the relationship that brings that storyline out the best. So Dash getting jealous of Leo's new friendship with Jordi makes perfect sense.
I said last week that I was going to stick with this show until the end, or until I decided to stop watching all together, and I was assuming at the time that the former was more true than the latter, but I'm honestly not so sure anymore. There's a lot I can take from a show, or from any other story medium for that matter, but there were a lot of moments this week that had me rolling my eyes because the show (Charlie specifically) felt the need to tell me things I already knew. I can take a lot from a show, but when you start talking at me like I'm an idiot, I lose patience very quickly.