Television
Entertainment Television

TV review: Big dreams in 'The L.A. Complex'

Who would have thought Canadians would nail a story about aspiring young artists in Hollywood--and film the whole thing in Toronto no less?

Score one for the underdogs.

"The L.A. Complex" (8 p.m. April 24 then moves to 7 p.m. Wednesdays April 25, CW; 3 stars), which comes to The CW via our northern neighbors at CTV/MuchMusic, presents an affectionate and surprisingly insightful look at Hollywood hopefuls clawing to make careers in TV, music, comedy and dance. The six wannabes live in a dumpy apartment building ironically called the Deluxe. (Points here for the Lux not being "Melrose Place" perfect.)

The most successful of the group, Aussie actor Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore), moves out--and supposedly up--in the first episode when the medical soap opera he's in gets picked up by a network.

"I haven't even done a guest spot, and now I'm a lead," he says, more nervous than excited.

"I hate you," replies Abby (Cassie Steele), a dead broke Canadian who keeps missing or screwing up her auditions.

Abby draws the ire of Raquel (Jewel Staite), another actress who had a taste of fame 10 years ago in a much-loved but short-lived series ("We had a bad time slot," she tells admirers repeatedly), but hasn't worked for two years. Raquel has a thing with Connor--until he spots the younger Abby. Raquel realizes it's just another part for which she's getting too old.

Connor's soon-to-be former roomie, struggling comic Nick (Joe Dinicol), can't get a laugh but does get slammed at an open-mic night by two pros (guest stars Mary Lynn Rajskub and Paul F. Tompkins as themselves). Dancer Alicia (Chelan Simmons) knows she's good enough to be Usher's backup dancer, but is practical enough to do another kind of dancing to pay the rent.

Would-be hip-hop producer Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson) works an internship at a rap label where his boss refuses to listen to his beats--until he impresses Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller), a rap superstar with a secret who is trying to stay relevant. (King doesn't live at the Luxe.)

A lot of this sounds cliche, for sure. The show does borrow from "Fame," "A Chorus Line" and other cautionary tales about big dreams. But creator Martin Gero ("Bored to Death") and producers Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn ("Degrassi") tweak the Hollywood stereotypes just enough to make this feel fresh and authentic. Their actors, as well, flesh out what could be broad characters with personality and honesty, creating a likeable group of underdogs.

"The L.A. Complex" revels in its dreamers, but its message is for anyone who has ever worked hard for something.

Watch the premiere below:

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • TV review: Vote yes for 'Veep'

    TV review: Vote yes for 'Veep'

    Vice President Selina Meyer is just a heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world in HBO's cynical, hilarious and profane political satire "Veep" (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO; 3 stars). I hope that heart never stops beating.

  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

Comments
Loading
77°