Game on film: “The Body Politic” edition.

15 Oct

Even though most Hollywood players consider themselves socially progressive, meaning they support, inter alia, same-sex marriage, women’s rights, the Prius, your taxes paying for everyone else’s health care, the idea of minorities, and Christian/Christianity-bashing, they can often be downright Paleolithic when it comes to depicting romance onscreen.  It’s astounding to me how often biological truth trickles through the ideology.  Yes, there are still people trying and failing to make The Michael Cera into a romantic trope, but for the most part, when the writers of a film or television show are trying to put two characters together, they’re going to incorporate elements of Game, especially if the protagonist is a woman.  Despite all of the social inculcating from kindergarten on that “boys and girls are equal,” NO ONE, not even Progressive Hollywood, truly believes that a woman is capable of falling in love with a submissive man.  This is why you will see a lot of sitcoms with doofus, no-Game husbands and smart wives – but you won’t ever see a show about how a smart woman falls in love with a doofus, no-Game man.  (If one manages to make it to the air, it will not last long.)  If the marriage is already established, it is taken for granted that at some point in the past, the man had enough Game to get the woman to marry him, and it is equally taken for granted that he then deteriorated into a hapless beta schlub.

But when a show is trying to get two characters together, you can be sure that elements of Game will weave their way into the storyline.  If the show has a “will they/won’t they” premise, the writers will give an alpha male character some super beta moments to prevent it from being utterly ridiculous that the female character hasn’t jumped him yet.  (See:  Bones.)  If the male character is a beta underdog that we’re supposed to root for, he will be given occasional alpha moments to prick the female into alertness, then re-beta-ize him to make the female character forget her attraction.  (See:  Ross and Rachel on Friends.)  Conversely, an alpha female will almost always show vulnerability to the male character before they get together.  She will be TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH – and then share a feeling and/or cry in front of the male.  A beta female, on the other hand, will become more sexy and beautiful and the male character will suddenly see her in a new light.  (This is usually accomplished by sending the characters to a dance, wedding, or other fancy outing.)

So what kind of Game tricks does Hollywood pull out when they need a male character to alpha up?  Well, the easiest, most obvious way is through looks:  the heroine usually ends up with the best-looking guy.  Granted, in Hollywood productions, everyone is attractive, even the unattractive people.  Someone who is supposed to be average-looking in a TV show is still better-looking than an average-looking regular person.  So looks aren’t usually so much a factor, unless the show is pitting a Hollywood average guy against a Hollywood handsome guy.

But even Hollywood average guys can get the girl with Game, and no greater tool can a Hollywood average guy wield than the Neg.  Shorter than the rival?  Doesn’t matter.  Not as built?  Doesn’t matter.  Not as handsome?  Doesn’t matter.  A Hollywood average guy with masterful negging powers is pretty much guaranteed to get the girl at some point down the road, which brings me to my example.

The Body Politic was a twentysomething political drama pilot made for The CW for the 2009/10 television season – a sort of CW-ized West Wing for the TXT-generation.  Featuring a very attractive cast of young actors (The CW’s specialty), it got positive reviews from just about every outlet that sampled it.  Alas, it did not go to series, but a series of clips from the pilot did make it onto YouTube.  I then tracked down the leaked presentation (the 30-minute version of the pilot; if the show had been picked up, the remaining scenes would have been produced).

In addition to establishing who all the characters were, the show spent quite a bit of time setting up a love triangle between Minka Kelly’s newbie Senatorial intern Frankie, Jason Dohring’s ambitious reporter Charlie, and Jay Hernandez’s war hero/staffer Ben.  I usually find love triangles hit or miss because of the tendency to make them very lopsided, with the eventual victor so obviously a superior choice that the whole thing is a waste of time.  This set-up, however, seemed kind of interesting because of the guys.  Dohring and Hernandez provide a very good example of Hollywood average guy vs. Hollywood handsome guy.  Hernandez, while a bit shorter than Dohring, has a stronger jawline, squarer face, and more athletic build.  Introduced in military dress, he’s clearly supposed to be the alpha.  Dohring, on the other hand, doesn’t look athletic at all, lacks a lantern jaw, and isn’t handsome.  Physically beta.  Yet I though it was pretty obvious that Frankie would eventually end up with Charlie (though not without a detour with Ben first), and all because Charlie drops some perfectly delivered negs on her in the first clip we see.  And Frankie shit tests Charlie five times in a row.  And is giving him the eyes.  Check it out for yourself.  Also worth noting is the AMOG battle between Charlie and Ben.

It would have been interesting to see how the show handled the progression of this love triangle.  My guess is that Frankie would have followed her hypergamous impulses and fallen into Ben’s alpha arms, only to feel she had a stronger emotional connection to Charlie.  But that’s all in the ether now, isn’t it?

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19 Responses to “Game on film: “The Body Politic” edition.”

  1. ASDF October 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    I can see why this show never made it off the ground. Ignoring the painfully fast-paced, ultra zingy dialogue, the choice is between a geeky-looking white guy and a short latino? They should have called this show “Slim Pickings”.

    The white guy was obviously the saucy alpha. The other guy was a typical gruff white knight (complete with white military outfit).

  2. Aunt Haley October 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    ASDF, what shows (if any) do you like? You seem quite eager to trash any shows I’ve referenced on this blog.

  3. Thursday October 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Any thoughts on Lost? Keep in mind I’m just starting Season 2, so no spoilers please, but I found the contrast between leader of men alpha Jack and bad boy alpha Sawyer rather intriguing. But then there have been hints of a darker side to Jack and the writers have given Sawyer enough of a sensitive side that one can sympathize with him. I can totally understand why the show is such chick crack.

    And then there is Kate . . .

  4. Thursday October 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    There is also this article from Steve Sailer.

  5. Aunt Haley October 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Thursday, my feelings about Lost are probably offensive to anyone who really loves the show.

  6. ASDF October 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve only commented on this one and the fat people one, but you have a point; I’m a natural critic (though they did both offer a lot to criticize). So that you can criticize me (or marvel at my good taste), here are the shows that I watch.

    -Mad Men

    -How I met your Mother (They should kill off all the sad sacks and rename it The Barney Show)

    -The Big Bang Theory

    -American Dad

    -Deadliest Warrior

    -2.5 Men

    For reruns I like:

    -Frasier

    -Arrested Development

    -MASH

  7. Lover of Wisdom October 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    I want to know them now!

  8. Thursday October 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    I won’t be offended. I can’t say I really love any TV show. I only watch them (usually on DVD) while on the treadmill, to keep from being totally bored. Lost is entertaining enough as treadmill filler, at least so far.

  9. Joseph Dantes October 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    I’ll have to check some of those out.
    I like Big Bang Theory, 2.5 Men, Lie to Me, Vampire Diaries. Used to like Chuck.

  10. ASDF October 16, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Get off the treadmill and do some sprints!

  11. y81 October 16, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Some Tabata intervals!

  12. grerp October 16, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Jason Dohring has a baby face, but he had an amazing frame as Logan Echols on Veronica Mars. Seriously alpha, seriously screwed up, and more than a little delicious. The lead girl, Frankie, is very beautiful.

  13. Aunt Haley October 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    ASDF, we have some overlap in taste. However, I disagree that HIMYM should focus on Barney. He’s better as a supporting character.

  14. Aunt Haley October 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    Logan Echolls morphed into the show’s alpha male in the first season, partly because Teddy Dunn as Duncan was not a very good actor (or at least was poorly cast, given the role’s requirements), and partly because the writers just gave Logan better material to work with. Logan had vulnerable bravado in spades, plus he was clever, and Jason Dohring was capable of playing both sides of the coin. Unfortunately, after the first season, the character devolved into an emo woobie with crippling oneitis, but he was electrifying in the first season.

    The rise of Logan as show’s alpha male reminds me a lot of the way Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer took over as alpha male on that show. Both shows had other guys who were physically more alpha, but you just can’t keep a clever bad boy down.

    Minka Kelly is very pretty, but I wish her acting were as good as her looks. She doesn’t come off too badly in the clips I’ve posted here, but after seeing the whole presentation…yikes. Voiceovers no good.

  15. Aunt Haley October 16, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    Thursday–
    Well, to make a long explanation very short: it was a bad show, and a bad show of the worst kind: a bad show that thinks it’s a deep, thought-provoking good show.

  16. grerp October 17, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Logan was still good in season 2. He was emotionally unstable, but I’d give him a pass since his mom had just jumped off a bridge and his father was revealed to have killed his girlfriend. From 3/4ths of the way of season 1 to the end of the series he did have oneitis and was basically Veronica’s to use at will, but his manner of dealing with his cougar lover, Kendall Casablancas (Charisma Carpenter) was solid and beyond his years. Of course, he didn’t care about her. Still, this little bit, after Kendall finds that her husband didn’t leave her any money and now she has to come up with new sources to extract from:

    Kendall: You wanna go back to playing grabass with cheerleaders that have just mastered missionary? See ya. You want things to keep going the way they’ve been going, I’m gonna need a few things.
    Logan: I’m sorry, ‘see ya’ was option A? Bessie, when the milk stops being free, I stop drinking it.
    Kendall: Then what am I supposed to do?
    Logan: Frankly, my dear… you know the rest.

    was pure alpha.

    Veronica was always tougher and smarter than any of the men in her life (except sometimes her father), which kind of dimmed the romance, but she wasn’t as bad as Buffy who utterly emasculated her lovers, including Spike.

    I can’t decide if it was Teddy Dunn who was the dud or Duncan Kane, the character he played. Seriously, Duncan never said or did anything interesting that the plot didn’t utterly hinge on him doing (and was, therefore, somewhat unbelievable). All the good lines went to Logan.

  17. Aunt Haley October 17, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Logan was so unashamedly mean to Kendall, but it was fun to watch because they both knew the score. I think his “I’m sorry. Did I hurt your feeling?” line was my favorite. But with Veronica after season 1…ugh. His drunken “We were EPIC!!!” line was absolute oneitis fail.

    I don’t think Teddy Dunn is an actor who is ever going to set the world on fire, but he was not helped by the writing for Duncan. The writers clearly favored Logan, and it showed in the writing. I think they wanted Duncan to represent an intangible ideal for Veronica, which was fine…but then you can’t have a multilayered character like Logan hanging around as a romantic rival. Viewers will naturally gravitate toward the most interesting character, and on this show, that was Logan.

    The Buffy/Spike relationship was better in theory than it was in execution. That the show changed hands in between the 5th and 6th seasons probably accounts for some of it. But mostly, I got the distinct impression that the writers themselves couldn’t decide between Angel and Spike and were trying to leave the door open romantically for Angel (to make crossover guest appearances) yet still sell a passionate love/hate/love relationship for Buffy and Spike.

  18. Cane Caldo October 18, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Bingo.

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  1. Linkage is Good for You: Return to Normalcy Edition - October 17, 2010

    […] Aunt Haley – “What is “Hot”?“, “Game on Film: “The Body Politic” Edition.” […]

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