A short review of Episode 2 of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump.
The good news this week is that Single Ladies feels like an hour of dramatic television.
The bad news is that the show confuses accelerated plotting for character work. Both Keisha and April are dealing with Episode 7 or 8 developments in their relationships. We really need to spend some time in these women's lives before everything falls apart.
I still have very little sense of who April is other than "white girl" and her relationship with Darryl means nothing to me since I don't know who he is either. And sure, I get that women obsess over the lack of a phone call after sex, but Keisha becoming neurotic over Malcolm in Episode 2 is so rushed as to be out of character.
Watching Single Ladies feels like having a conversation with someone in a bar who tells you all their business before you've even had a chance to take a sip of your drink. As such, none of the big dramatic moments in tonight's episode were earned, and it's likely why every actor simply couldn't make those moments work.
That said, it is interesting to note that the budding relationship between Tilky Jones' KC and Val hits all the right notes all the time. Their conversations feel like conversations that these two particular individuals would have. In those scenes, Val emerges as the kind of lead character you could be invested in because the show allows her to be both disarmed by KC's charm and intrigued enough to let her guard down and just live in the moment. There's a rhythm and a warmth to the way Jones and Dash play those scenes that is fun. It gives one a real taste of what Single Ladies could be as a dramatic show if it bothered to spend some time developing character.
But so little else feels human here. The women are still woefully one-dimensional and speak in overly self-aware declarative sentences and the men are simply eye candy*. It's the kind of dialogue that bad screenwriters think is good dialogue because the characters get to say all the things that people wish they could say without feeling self-conscious about it. Except, people never actually say everything they are thinking and wanting. Our natural dialogue is filtered and tempered. Good dialogue recognizes this fact and understands how to use what is unsaid to tell the audience something.
But let me not undersell the good news, Single Ladies truly does more credibly resemble a television show. That, in and of itself, is important.
*I should note that Travis Winfrey, as Val's gay assistant Omar, is both beautiful and doing a great job avoiding making Omar into the stereotypical gay assistant. One hopes he gets something to do as the show develops.