29 October 2008
TV has rules by which most shows play. Rules about archetypes and morality and edginess and socio-economic statements and what couplings work best. Privileged, since it began, has been dancing on the edge of many of those lines, but it wasn’t until this episode that it became clear just how against the grain this show really is playing (like my beautifully mixed metaphors?). Now I’m not saying that breaking the rules is a bad thing in this case, it’s just curious for a show that is by no means a groundbreaking piece.
The most notable of these convention defiances? Many characters are the opposite of who you would assume they would be.
Let’s start with Megan. She’s the star, the lead, the cute, sweet, ambitious and smart quirk ball whose story we’re following, but she’s certainly no Rory Gilmore. She’s judgemental and selfish and can’t appreciate what she has while preaching to others that they are being ungrateful. And Charlie; he’s the super sweet, reliable best friend right? but Jim Halpert would be ashamed. Charlie is, in many ways, just as selfish as Megan. He’s secretive and grumpy and self-pitying. At first the reality that these 2 characters aren’t as wonderful as the TV rules would have dictated made me sad, but then I realized that the writers of Privileged were giving me unexpected characters to love in their place.
You’re not supposed to love the alcoholic and irresponsible father, but he was charming and polite and honest. The slutty playboy next door should not be the love interest you’re cheering for but Will has all the makings of, as Gossip Girl would say, a “knight in shining Armani”. And the spoiled little rich girls aren’t supposed to be better people than the deserving poor girl who’s thrown into their world. It’s the rules; Dan has to be morally superior to Chuck and Nate, Rory has to be more well adjusted than Paris, Brandon has to be more responsible than Steve and Betty, of course, has to have better family values than Daniel and Alexis. But Rose and Sage proved in this episode that Megan’s got nothing on them. They were gracious hostesses, not showing an ounce of classist judgement, even when the Smiths descended into yet another inappropriate bickering match. And their quest to help with prom dresses for underprivileged teens and earn volunteer hours? Perfect. Not to mention their brilliant sisterly dynamic. Now that Sage has toned down a bit I’m really coming round on her (though I would prefer a different actress).
So, like when Joss Whedon got me to like murderous vampires and Josh Schwartz got me to like a moody loner with a penchant for punching people and Shonda Rhimes got me to like 2 brutally honest man-whores and Tina Fey got me to like a Republican corporate sell-out, kudos to Rina Mimoun for daring to break the rules and challenge my assumptions.