Television (Review): Gravity

21 06 2010

Always interesting, sometimes cheesy, and slightly abstract are some ways to describe Gravity’s strong points. Gravity is a little show nearing the end of it’s first season on Starz. For those of you this may come as a shock… Firstly, Starz is a real channel… Secondly, they have their own programing. You’ve probably seen a promo or two for one of their other series, Party Down, which follows the exploits of a catering crew (and toted Glee’s Jane Lynch as a regular member for season one and Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally in the current season) or heard of their series Crash, which deals in the same subject matter as the identically named movie.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Gravity details a group of suicide ‘dummies’ – a ragtag group of suicide attempters who have been forced into a support group. The show centers on the budding relationship of Lily and Robert, as well as the exploits of the rest of the group.

While this show could do much better on a different network with better funding (see the success of other quirky shows on well known premium networks, like HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ or Showtime’s mildly-accessible ‘Dead Like Me’), the oddball cast shines through the sometimes poorly written scripts and generally confusing plot-lines. The cast literally covers a wide range of stereotypes for those on the verge of suicide: A successful ophthalmologist who lost his perfect wife, a daddy-issue-toting lonely beauty, a washed up spokes-model, a stepford wife who has a perfectly boring life, a teenage misfit, a former baseball player who lost the pennant, and a construction worker with a small penis. [Okay, the last one isn’t exactly cliche…] I forgot to mention an obsessive, overly-forward, yoga-practicing, gambler of a detective who seems drawn to the beautiful female protagonist, Lily. I can honestly say that I love all these characters equally and they are beautifully performed by their respective players.

I would *love* to see a second season, because the characters are so perfectly flawed that I can’t help but root for all their dreams to come true – but I feel that after this Friday’s season finale, Gravity will be doomed to a cult following and maybe shitty direct-to-DVD movie made in a few years with random cast fill-ins. There are just too many things in the realm of this show and network to doom this series’ death:

First of all, Starz is a pay-for channel; while they’ve alleviated this burden – if you’re lucky enough to have a Netflix account, you can watch the episodes nearly on demand – most people won’t easily access this show.

Secondly, the production values are pretty dreadful. In one scene, a character is looking at a headstone and they didn’t bother insetting the wording into the frame AND it wasn’t even angled correctly. (The words were simply floating over the headstone…) While this leads to it’s quirkiness and to (drinking) games of ‘Spot the Photoshop’, it grows tired and mildly annoying after a while.

Finally, the show might be too niche for it to be successful. Sure, death (mainly via vampires) is ‘in’ right now, but this show sometimes hits a line of political correctness only meant for movies. I’ve known a few people who’ve committed suicide and found some jokes to be fairly hurtful towards people dealing with the real thing. What also may scare off some viewers is how intensely bizarre some of the plots/scenes may be. For instance: the detective character steals a pair of panties from the female lead and is later shown slapping himself (in the ass) while wearing. Personally, I found this scene to be absurdly hilarious but for people with less adventurous souls, this could be really weird. There are plenty of other awkward scenes throughout each of the (so-far) nine episodes.

I’ve experienced nearly every emotion while watching this show: sorrow, overjoyed exuberance, utter defeat, and extraordinary confusion – so it’s done it’s job very, very well.

For: I’d recommend this show to anyone who has liked quirky concept shows – like Dead Like Me, Dexter, Glee, or Six Feet Under.

Rating, so far/Worth It: 9/10;   Definitely: If you enjoy the show through the first hour, you’ll enjoy the whole series.

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2 responses

21 06 2010
evilfishytank

It seems that Starz is a bit late on the morbidity-based dark comedy train, as in, Starz actually missed that train, and is now boarding the We Actually Need To Start Making QUALITY Premium Channel Original Programing train. Six Feet came out in 2001 and ended in ’05, while Dead Like Me rode the coattails of Six Feet in ’03 and ’04.

You think the production values could have been boosted if it was pseudo-PremChannels FX or AMC who hosted it? Do you think that those two even have the balls to have a show like this?

21 06 2010
Driftwood

After seeing Mad Men and, especially the darkness, of Breaking Bad, I think AMC could do a damn fine job handling it. I think FX wouldn’t have been able to really handle the series because they tend to do star-centric shows – The Shield, Damages, the upcoming: Louie, all depend on the likability of the ‘star’. With both Mad Men & Breaking Bad, the ensemble is more important than having a super notable start (just look at casting the unknown John Hamm as the lead).

And I agree that they missed the boat on the true ‘hey look, dead people’ theme of the early 00’s, the series is a breath of fresh air against True Blood, The Gates, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and Twilight.

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