A review of Episode 3 of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump.
This episode introduces the fifth lead character, Christina, Val's new intern. As played by Kassandra Clementi, she's a wild card who completely elevates the show by her mere presence. Clementi's performance is electrifying but it's not gimmicky or overplayed. It'll be fun to see how she works into the show.
Of the three episodes that have aired, this one is clearly the strongest suggesting that the show is finding itself, which is a good thing. But the stories are far too slight, I think, and the tone is still frustratingly inconsistent.
The Val story was pure sitcom. In a sitcom, the situation is the end, it is where the humor often lies. But in a drama situations like Val meeting a man who doesn't want to eat her out simply don't work if they don't advance a larger arc for the main character. This situation tells Val nothing and just wastes a fairly prominent guest actor like Darrin Henson in a dead-end role.
Keisha's Malcolm-testing-her-character plot is ripe for melodrama, but it all fell flat (mostly due to the lack of chemistry between Rick Fox and LisaRaye. People should stop casting Rick Fox in things.). It is kinda interesting that Malcolm is so intrigued with Keisha, but it would be nice to be shown why.
And we now know that April actually does have a job. She's an assistant to a record executive who wants to be an A&R executive. Not sure why in Atlanta, the capital of black music, she would find and try to sign a white rapper. I'm betting the writers thought a blonde white girl wouldn't be believable knowing how to spot talent in a black rapper. But it's feels 90s to have that white rapper be the stereotype of a suburban white negrophile.
Ultimately, I still think the writers are not quite sure how to write an hour-long drama, or are unwilling to just fully commit to the demands of hour-long drama writing. Single Ladies would work much better if the writers would just embrace the format and start thinking of the show as an ensemble dramedy. This would force them to spread the focus around, flesh out the characters – which both Malcolm and Darryl desperately need – and start building stories to arc over the course of a season.
- There were actually a few jokes that landed this week. Omar's exchanges with Keisha are genuinely funny and Travis Winfrey and LisaRaye have a great comic rhythm.
- I can't decide if the overly analytical, unemotional but supposed to be emotional outpouring from Darryl in the therapy scene is supposed to be read as the way Darryl is or just the writers not really knowing how to write genuine emotion. I could live with the former if the show started to develop that relationship in a way that let us know that Darryl is a little unemotional and distant.
- The show is in danger of tipping Val's nice, naive personality over into idiot territory. I get not quite knowing how to approach a wealthy customer who hasn't paid their tab, but as the show played it, Val just looks like a bad businesswoman. Which isn't to say the show couldn't explore a woman who has started a business who is in over her head, but I just don't think that's the goal. Val would be a more three-dimensional person if her business was the one place where she showed a little spine or passion. Making her kinda OCD is shorthand masquerading as character development.
What did everyone else think?