Sunday, July 09, 2017

TV: Child stars and child writers on QUANTICO

In the crash and burn that was season two of QUANTICO, the ABC show delivered one of the strongest laughs on network TV.

Shelby (Johanna Braddy) was discussing emotions with Clay (Hunter Parrish).

Clay insisted, "I have them.  I just don't let you know I have them.  I'm having one right now.  It's a complicated one.  It's like ten at once."

You never believed he was having ten emotions at once, you didn't even believe he was having one.

Mainly because the only emotion the human paper doll exhibited in season two waspouting.

A trembling lip and downcast eyes were shown off twice in two different episodes -- both times he was in the midst of addressing the team he was named leader of.

Those two scenes also made a lie out of his claim to have emotions but "I just don't let you know I have them."

In fact, when he shouldn't be letting others know his emotions was precisely when he did.

a new illst

Back in October of 2015, we'd offered praise for the then-new show QUANTICO.

Then in February of this year, we'd noted in passing: "QUANTICO has proven just how quickly a show can wither away. By episode 12 of season one, the show was struggling in the ratings. And the struggle never ceased."

ABC is doing a major reboot of the series for season three.

They've fired  a show runner and brought on someone new.

They've thinned the cast.

They've even limited the season to thirteen episodes under the premise that it would allow the show to be tighter and more focused.

Because of our previous comments (noted above) an ABC friend asked us to look at season two to see what went wrong.

We begged off.

We weren't in the mood to travel the country with script and episodes.

No, we were told, just episodes.

We still made excuses.


As our friend pointed out, we didn't have to carry anything around the country, season two had just been made available on NETFLIX.

Sounds easy, right?

If you really think that, you missed season two's first 12 episodes.

Where are we?

That's the question viewers must have been wondering over and over as each episode featured bizarre crosscuts that flashed forward, flashed back and flashed present.

As if that alone wasn't confusing enough, they were still screwing with the characters.

Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis) had stood up to so much in season one.  In season two, is she good, is she bad?  Is she a terrorist?  Oh, look, she's in prison as we flash forward to the future.  Oh, look, in the past she's defending Alex (Priyanka Chopra).  Oh look, now in the forward again, she's in prison because she tried to murder Alex.

No, none of it makes sense.

In fact, season two's first half really played out like it was attempting to turn the viewer into Tanya.  Seriously, it was as though ABC had turned the show over to the Symbionese Liberation Army and we were all being reconditioned.

That would certainly explain what happened in the second half of season two.

Was the tortured confusion of all the came before supposed to make us accept Hunter Parrish as a team leader?

Or ignore his looks.

Parrish isn't repulsive by any means.

But he doesn't look like an adult despite being thirty.

There were far too many shirtless scenes for a man with the body of a toddler.

And those lips?

Honestly, he looked like he'd raided Macaulay Culkin's lipstick stash.

If Parrish was paying tribute to child star Culkin, Chopra got stuck serving up a homage to Shirley Temple.

Alex ceased being a character with complexities and instead became a childish imp able to solve anything and everything.

No longer a bright agent learning a job, she was the master thinker, the one who saw all, the never wrong.

It was beyond irritating.

And to build her up as the ultimate, they ended up emasculating -- not just tearing down -- the character of Ryan.

Jake McLaughlin is a strong actor.

It's why people responded to the pairing of his character with Chopra's Alex.

But when his character is weakened by bad writing, there's nothing McLaughlin can do to save it.

In elevating Alex to mythical Shirley Temple levels, the decision was made to undercut and weaken Ryan.

At one point, he's given advice, dubious advice, that since Alex is so smart, such a leader, and always right, he should head for the shadows.  In response, he asked, "So that's my life challenge?  Making her better?"

It got even worse.

At another point, Alex is shot and she's in an ambulance as Ryan pleads, "Alex, look at me!"

To which a season one returner says, "Sorry, Alex, I can't watch him cry.  He's too pathetic."

Yes, even the other characters on the show were calling Ryan pathetic.

But it was the show runner and the writers that were inadequate.

To their credit, as viewers repeatedly checked out on the show, they realized the plots had to be simplified.

The second half was all about (a) ignoring every storyline that had come before and (b) telling only one storyline without flash fowards or flash backs.

Sadly, the simplified story wasn't worth writing.

It was another 'liberal' attack on Donald Trump.

We say 'liberal' for a reason and we'll get to it.

First though, the dubious and questionable Claire Hass (Marcia Cross) had become President.

Now she did that how?

If you don't remember, it's okay, the writers apparently didn't either.

She did that by assisting Liam (Josh Hopkins) with his crimes.

But suddenly she was our great hope and our great hero.

And she did the right thing repeatedly . . . even though she knew it would take down her presidency and hand it over to someone's idea of Donald Trump.

Which, if you think about it, wasn't the right thing but no one was supposed to notice that.

There was a lot that season two asked you not to notice.

Such as the fact that Harry (Russell Tovey) was the best thing about season two.

So naturally, the wrote him off.

Did it matter that Harry was gay?

We think it did.

We think that the show -- praised for its diversity -- was highly homophobic.

Season one offered two portrayals of gay men -- only to reveal one wasn't in fact gay, bi or even up to a handy j at the stalls.

Simon was posing as gay.

What do you say to that?

'We've all been there?'

QUANTICO certainly had.

Simon was posing as gay in season one and, you may remember, Elias (Rick Cosnett) was on to him.

Elias was actually gay.

Remember how that ended?

From NEWNOWNEXT's "QUANTICO Just Gave Us One Of The Worst Gay Storylines In TV History:"

The final straw (or so we thought) occurred the other week, when a bomb scare tested the recruits, and Elias was the only character to flee the scene, perpetuating the tired trope of the gay coward.
[. . .]
Going completely off the rails, Quantico turned its only real gay character into a simpering basket case and terrorist who kills himself rather than face the music.

That was season one.

Season two saw Harry introduced.  He was capable, smart and MI6.

So of course, he would be run off.

And the coward theme continued.

Gays, you understand, are all cowards on QUANTICO.

Harry had a watchful eye on Sebastian (David Lim) who he was both attracted to and suspicious of.

Sebastian is gay but imprisoned in a closet because he wants to appear straight.

Sebastian, it also turns out, may be part of the bad guys -- they never nailed this down in the second half of the second season.

Harry had seen a woman shot dead and goes after who he thinks is the killer -- Sebastian.

Harry ends up kidnapped and drugged.

Then forced to make a call to Alex.

In the call, he bails on the team.

Coward, of course, it's the unrelenting theme of the show when it comes to LGBTQ characters.

So given the chance to help, he flees -- as Simon orders him to.

Two characters -- two gay characters -- are part of season two and they're possibly more offensive than what took place in season one.

Did we say two?

We should have said four.

Will Olson (Jay Armstrong Johnson) turned out to be gay in season two's 12 episode.  He also appeared to have Asperger's or some other condition.

And Owen (Blair Underwood) especially, but all the characters except Shelby and Ryan, repeatedly attacked him for it.

Would they have slammed a character in a wheelchair for being in a wheelchair?

They had no trouble telling him to shut up or rolling their eyes when he spoke or, as Owen snarled at one point,  telling him "we already know that."

But they didn't know what he knew.

This didn't lead to an apology.

There was no reason for supposedly sympathetic characters to spend episode after episode making fun of the character with Asperger's -- the one who was their teammate.

But ABC allowed it, didn't they?

It gets worse.

Will was used to go after another gay character.  This one was a multi-billionaire and part of the eight people making up a conspiracy to install a president.

The other seven were shown frequently.

And talked about.

Only this one, Peter Theo, was talked about more than the others -- because he was gay.

It was as though the team of 'heroes' were obsessed with him because he was gay.

(The character was an attempt to smear Trump supporter Peter Thiel.)

The other seven?

We'll assume they were all straight since their sexuality wasn't a topic of discussion.

Peter's not just gay, he's desperate.

Will shows up at a gay club playing fresh meat and Peter takes the bait, even though Will presents a fellow agent as his girlfriend.

This was beyond disgusting.

As was the thought that Peter would be so desperate to have this supposed straight guy, that he'd take them both home and when the 'straight' guy got the willies, he'd run downstairs for vodka.

Pretty much everything about season two -- even with a simplified storyline -- was offensive.

The whole team together -- and with the help of the president of America -- are unable to defeat the Donald Trump character?

Henry Roarke (played by Dennis Boutsikaris) is the Speaker of the House.

Okay, so now Trump is brilliant and he's able to be repeatedly elected (to Congress) and to rise to the position of Speaker of the House?

To make sure that viewers get that this Super Trump is supposed to be Donald, protesters were those ratty pink hats with supposed ears, you know, those things that actually looked like a pink salsa bowl turned upside down?

And Alex uses terms like "resist" while he's brought down finally as a result of his communications with the Russians.

We're sure that many Hillary Clinton supporters cheered on each lousy episode, but those people are 'liberals.'

They don't believe in anything except the dampness in their panties (or briefs) every time they see the dried up, hagged out Hillary.

It was those sort of 'liberals' that were responsible for the storylines in the second half of the show.

They were so righteous in their outrage and offense and, like their hero Hillary, so damn corrupt.

Which is why the Alex led team tried to alter a vote in the US Congress -- via blackmail.

And the only one who objected to this was Ryan -- who eventually went along because even though he pledged to defend the Constitution, he was now conditioned to dance along to every song Shirley Temple Alex sang.

It was disgusting.

So much these days is.


If you missed it, John Brennan declared Sunday on NBC's always laughable MEET THE PRESS that US President Donald Trump was "dishonorable" to say it was an "honor" to meet Russian President Vladmir Putin.

We bring it up because he was the CIA director -- the last one under Barack Obama -- and he had his own way of dealing with Congress.

In 2014, Conor Friedersdorf (THE ATLANTIC) noted:

When John Brennan assured the country that the CIA hadn't improperly monitored the Senate team that compiled a report on Bush-era torture, he fed us false information. That much is clear from Thursday's news that "the C.I.A. secretly monitored a congressional committee charged with supervising its activities." Either the CIA director was lying or he was unaware of grave missteps at the agency he leads. There are already calls for his resignation or firing from Senator Mark Udall, Trevor Timm, Dan Froomkin, and Andrew Sullivan, plus a New York Times editorial airing his ouster as a possibility.

And in 2012, Micah Zenko (FOREIGN POLICY) documented Brennan's repeated struggle with honesty:

Stephanopoulos: "Do you stand by the statement you have made in the past that, as effective as they have been, they have not killed a single civilian? That seems hard to believe." 
Brennan: "What I said was that over a period of time before my public remarks that we had no information about a single civilian, a noncombatant being killed. Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population.… And unfortunately, sometimes you have to take life to save lives." (This Week with George Stephanopoulos, April 29, 2012)
In his public comments, Brennan is clear that the Obama administration endorses a drone-first eliminationist strategy for dealing with al Qaeda — and any "military-age males" nearby. This requires a tremendous amount of killing. In June 2011, Brennan claimed: "There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop." He later, however, provided a statement to the New York Times that the newspaper said "adjusted the wording of his earlier comment": "Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq."
Brennan did not clarify what constituted "credible evidence," but as Justin Elliott and I myself quickly pointed out, there were many public reports — from Pakistani and Yemeni reporters and anonymous administration officials — of civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes. Either Brennan did not receive the same reports of civilian casualties as other administration officials did (an implausible notion), he lacks Internet access to read these anonymous comments (equally implausible because Brennan closely responds to critics of targeted killings in his following media appearances), or he was lying. Regardless, his belief in the infallibility of the find-fix-finish cycle defies an understanding of the inherent flaws and limitations of even the most precise uses of lethal force.

Stupid enough to attack Donald as "dishonorable" for those reasons but, more to the point, who the hell is this undemocratic, government subverting piece of filth to call anyone "dishonorable"?

He belongs in prison.

Sadly, so did the gals and guys were were supposed to root for on QUANTICO.

What did Gore Vidal repeatedly say the US needed?

A Constitutional convention.

The team lost the vote in Congress.

Then Henry became president.

And he called for a Constitutional convention.

And the 'liberal' side became very clear: The people were not to be trusted.

A Constitutional convention, we were told by the team, would destroy the country.

Again, can't trust We The People.

So what did the team do?

Back to blackmail.

Or, as Owen put it, "lie, manipulate and blackmail."

So Shelby threatened a politician over "your affair with Senator Davis."

Miranda went after a senator who might lose votes "when they find out that you were part of a White separatist group."

Ryan went after a politician who had a "dominatrix on speed dial."

The team is made up of CIA and FBI members.

And they blackmail to interfere with democracy.

Writers and the failed show runner really thought people would applaud that?

They thought having Alex step forward broadcasting "a phone call with Russian operatives" would have the audience cheering from the edge of their seats.

No wonder viewers were fleeing throughout the second season.

If you're not getting how bad it was, we left out Alex's blackmail for the proposed convention.

She could, she informed the politician, file "charges all the way from corporate fraud to outright treason."

Get it?

This is what passes for 'liberal' when the hicks of Hollywood start preaching.

Alex has proof of corporate fraud but will sit on it.

Even worse, she has proof of treason but will sit on it.

And then she wants to give a speech proclaiming the importance of light and emerging from the darkness?

We weren't surprised she was shot in the middle of that speech -- we were only surprised no one booed the hypocrite.

The audience did, that's why they were fleeing.

After watching season two, we grasped that was the only sane response.

Between that and pulling QUANTICO off of HULU, there was no way the show wasn't going to tank.  The only surprise is that after all that, ABC thinks it can now be easily fixed and saved.

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