Tuesday, January 25, 2022

TV: Even when she's brazen, she's boring

If BRAZEN isn't the worst TV movie ever made, we don't know what is.



The basic plot  is that a woman is a teacher and she's going through a divorce. To cover bills, she becomes an online sex worker. Right away, you're seeing Jennifer Lopez or, since this is a TV movie, Eva Longoria, right? That would make sense. However, nothing about BRAZEN makes sense which is why the woman of interest is not the focus of the film. Her bland and dull sister is. The teacher is killed and we get stuck with the teacher's drab and dreary sister stumbling around while she tries to solve the murder.



Since the sister is played by faded celebrity Alyssa Milano, it might have been more interesting to just film the pitch meeting on this project. Alyssa turns fifty this year and she's never bothered to study her craft. It shows. It really shows. There's nothing more pathetic than a grown woman pretending to be a kid. As a child performer, Alyssa learned to indicate. That's really all we expect from child performers. And that's why most of them never have leading actress or actor careers. They just don't have the talent or the skill. A Natalie Wood or an Elizabeth Taylor is a rare person. They break through, as adults, by busting their butts and Alyssa's never bothered to do that. Slouching her way through WHO'S THE BOSS led to her being one of three actresses to play Amy Fisher in a TV movie. Three actresses, three TV movies. Watching, it was obvious that Noelle Parker could act, that Drew Barrymore had drive and that Alyssa had moved from slouching to slumping. She sort of slumped through the role apparently convinced that she had a large fan base and they just wanted to see her on the screen and didn't care whether or not she could act or create a character or even be believable as a human being.

You get the idea that Alyssa still believes that mythical group of viewers are out there, just waiting for her next close up.

Nora Roberts is Team Alyssa and wants you to know that Alyssa's "politics" do not concern her. When people objected to Alyssa being cast in the lead, Roberts was adamant that Alyssa's "politics'' were just fine with her. That was cute -- the notion that either Alyssa Milano or Nora Roberts practiced or understood politics. Alyssa is a partisan, she is not political. What the Democratic Party says is the gospel to Alyssa. Which is why she came off so damn pathetic in the '00s when various Democratic Party pundits were slamming her for various positions (especially her position on net neutrality -- for the record, we agreed with her and we defended her on). 

Alyssa went on to become fat and a fat head. Her career was over. Her pathetic performance as Phoebe on CHARMED landed her no where and her tantrums on the set of MISTRESSEs led to her exiting that series (to the relief of all her co-stars). Her acting wasn't delivering. But when the fact that she was fat was noticed by comedian Jay Mohr, Alyssa climbed on the cross and played the victim yet again. It helped her become something of an internet sensation and maybe that was supposed to make up for how pathetic she looked? Jay was right, she was fat. She'd end up pimping Atkins products on TV until her big mouth got her fired from that gig. Fat shaming? 

If a person's fat, they're fat. That's our opinion. If you work in a visual medium, your appearance is fair game. We're not fond of dog piles and try not to participate in them. But if you're fat, you're fat. And being overweight doesn't mean you're not attractive or sexy. 

But for Alyssa, the worst thing in the world she could be called was "fat." She'd been called (rightly) untalented for years and that never resulted in an online tantrum. But there she was attacking Jay Mohr. It was all a bit excessive.

At the time, we thought, "Okay, this is a touchy area for her. Well if that's how she feels, that's how she feels. Live and let live." 

Fade out. Fade in four years later and Alyssa's a supporting character on a teen drama. And it's fat shaming. People are outraged by the show. And Alyssa, instead of apologizing, is telling people that they are wrong and that they don't know what they're talking about and that what they think they're seeing isn't what they're seeing.

That's when you just shake your head and go, "bitch, please."

The show was about an overweight teen girl who loses the weight and becomes popular and desirable and, yes, it was a fat shaming series.

What we realized as this played out was that Alyssa didn't really oppose fat shaming. What she opposed was people noting that she was fat.

There's a difference. 

And there's a world of difference between a bad movie like DON'T LOOK UP and BRAZEN.

We're not going to grade a film higher because of good intentions. But we will note that with a DON'T LOOK UP, at least NETFLIX is reaching up. With BRAZEN, it's just rolling in the gutter.

Nora Roberts fancies herself a writer. Ourselves, we'd call her a typist. That's not snobbery. You don't have to be Alice Munro to be worthy of reading for us. We applaud the work of Jackie Collins which was full of life. We applaud Judith Krantz for her groundbreaking efforts with SCURPLES. A book doesn't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to be worth reading. But Nora doesn't impress us with her lifeless work that seems the equivalent of some Syd Field student using the cookie cutter method they were taught to churn out a bad script. Like James Patterson, Nora sells books because her readers know what will take place before they open the front cover. The sameness is the hallmark and what keeps her crowd buying.

What made NETFLIX buy this garbage? 

Nora's bad book came out in 1988. It's hasn't, in the years since, been applauded as a classic. Nor have her books seen a run of classic -- or even popular -- film adaptations. Back in 1988, it might have seemed current. It certainly was, for example, published three years before Ira Levin's SLIVER and it was before BASIC INSTINCT and other tease films came along. But in 2022, it's hopelessly outdated. Again, the events that should be the focus are the dead sister's experiences and they probably would be in a book written today. Hell, they were in the Diane Keaton's neo-noir LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR (1977).

Not only is the plot wanting but so is everything else.

Mr. Teeth. Chompers. What do we call the police detective that Sam Page plays? Or tries to play. He offers jokes about free doughnuts and we appreciate that because it's the closest he gets to inhabiting a character. Sam's trying. But there's nothing there to play. So he relies on his very pretty teeth and his very pretty face and, like us, probably wishes there was a character somewhere in the script. He and Alyssa have all the chemistry of two identical twins in a Double Mint chewing gum ad. Which is too bad for Sam because he's shown he can inhabit a character in other projects. Here, he's given a shell and that's all a man in an Alyssa project will ever be. (You should have heard her screaming tantrum on MISTRESSES as she tried to get the show runner to shred Brett Tucker's role to pieces.) 

Alyssa never come across onscreen with a man. People have noticed this. They'd try pairing her as far back as WHO'S THE BOSS and it didn't work. Her character Phoebe (on CHARMED) worked better apart from Cole than with him. On MELROSE PLACE, watching her film a scene with David Charvet, the director erupted in laughter and wondered if child acting had permanently stunted her. (It had.) On MISTRESSES, she fought with the men her character was supposed to be in love with -- fought with them and felt the need to give them notes on their performances. (No, Alyssa wasn't the director, nor was she a producer But, as a celebrity, she felt she knew best.) 

Chaste and asexual are the two terms that best describe Alyssa onscreen and calling the film "brazen" still doesn't make her come across. Nothing ever has. It's rather sad -- and creepy -- to watch a child actor turning 50 still coming across like a child.

Even her hairstyle is a failure. It's not blond, it's that cheap look you see on people who don't have the time or money to put into getting their dark hair properly stripped of color to become blond. As for the 'tendrils,' they look like she had a home perm -- a very bad home perm. But maybe that's what passes for an Alyssa Milano acting choice?


Alyssa's playing a very stupid woman. When we first see her, she's giving a public reading and not since Troy Donahue played Youngblood Hawke have we seen a more laughable 'literary giant.' No sooner is Alyssa done speaking to the crowd than she's fleeing town and you would too if you were her. Off she goes to flirt with her sister's neighborhood police officer. Off she goes to solve her sister's murder. Off she goes to do blatant T&A as she dresses up as a dominitrix because she was apparently asked to show both her talents. Off she goes to get herself in trouble and play damel in distress.

It's really that pathetic. Doris Day in CAPRICE had more sense and more self-empowerment than the ditz Alyssa's playing. The main take away though? Garbage does not stop being garbage because you wait 33 years to film it. 


For those who feel we spent a lot of time on Alyssa, please grasp that she's not just the star of the abhorration, she's also a producer. As with her previous producing experience, Alyssa can't find significant roles for non-Whites. Yeah, it matters. It's 2022 and she's still stuck in the 90s. The first ten billed actors of her bad movie? All but one are White. Typical Alyssa. But watch her lecture others and pretend she's done something with her life when all she's ever done is enforce and echo racism and homophobia and, yes, sexism. 

What's especially sad is that NETFLIX debuts this atrocity in the same month they announce they're upping subscription prices. Is the message supposed to be: Pay more or you're going to be stuck with garbage like BRAZEN?


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