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Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Blowback from "Twisted"

So, there's this ABC Family show called Twisted which has been on for a few months now. Although geared to a tween/teen audience, some of us old folk got caught up in the rapture of a show that supposedly featured a multiracial cast that included an Asian male lead and a black girl who was supposed to share equal time with the white girl. In other words, something fresh and new.

To synopsize the plot, Danny Desai (played by the eye-appealing Avan Jogia) is just returning to his community and high school after serving five years in juvie for killing his aunt when he was just eleven. His two former best friends, who are no longer on speaking terms with each other due to the fallout of being friends with a sociopath, are Jo Masterson (Maddie Hasson) and Lacey Porter (Kylie Bunbury). Whereas Jo has played the part of the outcast, Lacey has integrated herself with the popular crowd and is the girlfriend of the head jock.

The storyline was initially interesting because the first episodes focused on Danny's desire to re-establish ties to both friends, who were more than reluctant to give him a second chance. However, Jo, the cheerless one, saw some sort of kindred spirit in Danny and decided to let down her walls. But no sooner than it would take you to say "boo" (which is the word Danny uttered when first encountering the duo in the school hallway), Danny becomes the prime suspect when Lacey's polyamorous BFF, Regina, is found murdered after a party which Danny attended. All eyes, including those of Jo's father, Kyle, who is also the sheriff, are on Danny and the poor boy can do nothing right after this. It doesn't help that he continually (and sometimes foolishly) keeps secrets, but one can forgive him considering his stint in juvie probably forced him to be less than forthcoming.

There is also a rift between Danny and his mother, who seems to have alcoholic tendencies and who exacerbates bad situations to make then worse. But there is always the faithful Jo to back him up when the school meanies and her own father cast him as a villain. To be honest, the way the storyline is being played, we don't really know whether Danny is or isn't a sociopath at this point, so Jo's allegiance may be misguided.

And that's one of the problems. Jo's character is being played up as the trusting and loyal friend, while Lacey is being portrayed as a mean-girl bitch. Which is totally unfair as she had reason to initially distrust someone who apparently had so much violence in him that at the tender age of eleven he could take out a grown woman and is in no way showing any remorse for what he did (outside of the fact that being branded a murderer is cramping his style).

Even as Jo begins to show signs of puppy love whenever she is in the vicinity of Danny, Danny has made it obvious from the very first ep that he has a thing for the beautiful Lacey (which I take it that the writers are somehow influenced by the popular SCANDAL and has decided to make the black girl the object of desire). He begins sweating her right out of the box but she resists - at first. After all, he may have murdered her best friend. When evidence arises that suggests otherwise, then it's all green light for the couple and some major fooling around ensues. Now I know today's generation is the "hook-up generation" with nothing leading to encounters but a mutual attraction but given Lacey's initial reluctance, it just seemed rushed to me that they start tearing at each others clothes whenever they are alone.

Not to mention, there are questions as to how Danny became so sexually adept given he was locked away since he was eleven. Yes, he's sixteen with raging hormones, but someone somewhere taught him something because he had Lacey out of her panties by episode ten. That scene played out so wrong, there's not enough kilobytes to write out each one. One of my personal peeves is that the couple finally copulated after a disastrous party Danny illogically threw and the whole shebang took place in front of the living room window - which of course, provided a creep to videotape them and eventually share the tape with the whole school. It just doesn't jibe that Lacey, who wanted to keep their relationship secret, would actually perform horizontal gymnastics in front of a window where anybody passing by might see them.

Basically, Danny's being all up on Regina simply resulted in a "booty call" which was beneath the dignity of both characters as they were initially presented. And now, Lacey has to face the fallout of the "sex tape" (this storyline seems insensitive considering the real live cases that have played in the news with the same scenario). Another thing that just doesn't make sense is that Lacey was seemingly more concerned with Jo's feelings than she was with how her own life would be devastated.

And that's the kicker, because in the end, this storyline is being played out like so many stale tropes: the white girl's POV as well as her feelings become the impetus of the story. Jo is a good friend, but that is all she is to Danny, and yet even Danny bends over backward to prevent her any heartbreak, almost seemingly throwing his actual "lover" (and I say that sarcastically because where was the love in the consummation) under the bus. Tired, tired story often repeated in soaps, books, movies, in news items, all over the world and in galaxies beyond.

And I am not the only one tired of this. Thus the "blowback" where those shipping Danny and Lacey have taken their anger to their twitter and facebook accounts, even going so far as to "unfollow" the show. Comments on the latest youtube vids and tumblr have shown the fans' outrage as well.

And I say all of this to stress a point; when the writers are white, don't expect any real changes in the depictions of characters of color. It just ain't happening (and Spike Lee tried to clue us on this reality decades ago). We eventually are going to have to pen to paper and write our own storylines. Until then, we're at the behest of those who don't see black women and girls as anything but fodder to prop up a white girl. In other words, the mammy/best friend. And that has to change.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 8/17/2013 02:29:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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