The L.A. Complex is one of those shows that’s interesting and sorta exciting right from hearing about it if you’re a TV fan. It’s got a great pedigree behind it. The producers have all done good work, and there’s a good cast in place as well (who we’ll discuss in a moment). The overall feel of the show is definitely soapy and Degrassi fans will probably be all in.
Two of the big things about The L.A. Complex are casting decisions. First there’s Jewel Staite (Firefly) as an actress who once had a successful show but who’s now struggling to pay rent. She’s a big favorite of many, many people and her role of Raquel is very different than we’re used to seeing her. She does a good job, obviously drawing on real life experience of being a frustrated actress. Then you have Cassie Steele, who to a select number of people is best known as Manny from Degrassi: TNG. She’s all grown up and plays Canadian import Abby who’s just starting out and dying for a role. She’s mostly unknown to American audiences and it’ll be interesting to see if her star can rightfully rise. She really kills her role as well, probably once again drawing from real life experiences. The rest of the main cast are made up of a lot of lesser-knowns but that adds to the appeal and was a smart casting decision.
Chelan Simmons is someone you’ll recognize from about a billion different things but you probably don’t know her by name. She plays dancer Alicia on The L.A. Complex. While trying to make her way as a professional dancer she pays the rent by stripping. Then there’s the guys. Jonathan Patrick Moore was in Australia’s Neighbours and is a young actor who just got his first big break and got cast as the lead on a show. Joe Dinicol plays Nick who’s crushing hard on Abby and wants to be a comedian. In the pilot he has a really funny run in with Mary Lynn Rajskub and Paul F. Tompkins playing evil versions of themselves. Finally there’s the other “Canadian” in the show, or at least the one who’s character is also supposed to be from the great white north, Tariq, a wannabe music producer and beat maker played by Benjamin Charles Watson.
Sure the series treads over well worn territory. The struggling entertainer in Hollywood thing has been done to death. But that’s part of the fun here. You know the cliches and so the show can just run wild and have some fun playing with them and being campy and cheesy. Tonally The L.A. Complex is pretty familiar to Degrassi with its drama mixed with a certain camp and comedy. The soapy aspect also adds an oh-so-bad it’s good quality to the show. After 2 episodes there’s already a rivalry, both professionally and romantically, brewing between Raquel and Abby, even if the doe eyed Abby doesn’t quite know it yet. And a big surprise involving Tariq and his first real client, a hardcore rapper.
Overall I think this show has a ton of potential and it’s a fun guilty pleasure. I think it already has a built in cult audience that will only grow, hopefully a lot when it hits the US.
Right now The L.A. Complex is airing in Canada on Much Music Tuesdays at 9pm EST and it’s coming to The CW in the Spring/Summer.