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"Dirt": All Guilt, No Pleasure

"Dirt": All Guilt, No Pleasure

"Dirt," which debuted last night on FX, should have been a winner. Focused on a cold-hearted editor at a gossip magazine, it's the perfect setup for giddily over-the-top plotlines and fizzy dialogue — like The Devil Wears Prada on speed, or maybe like what would happen if the kids on "The O.C." grew up and moved to Hollywood.

But based on the first episode, "Dirt" is just bafflingly bad. The scandalous sex and special effects that should make "Dirt" edgy just feel sloppy and pointless, and the writing is dull where it should have been frothy and fun.

The show is supposedly all about Lucy Spiller (Courteney Cox), the face behind the two most important magazines in Hollywood: a fluffball mag called Now that makes careers, and Drrt (yes, two "r"s), the gossip rag that breaks them. Lucy's every bit the fiery editrix: She turns every party conversation into a snarky headline and uses a stun gun on a guy she sleeps with when she decides he's using her to get famous. I liked Lucy, and Cox should get kudos for taking on such a tough role — even though her speeches about Real Journalism and her attempts to display emotions beyond "frigid" seemed off. If the show were just about her, I might keep watching. The real trouble with "Dirt" is its messy subplots. To see what I mean,

The first major misstep is with Don Konkey (Ian Hart), a supposedly brilliant photographer who is schizophrenic and off his medication. His illness comes through on screen in a variety of hallucinations: His sick cat talks to him; his words float in the air and crawl away like inchworms; he sees the faces on the Clairol bottles talking to him in the drugstore. It might have been more subtle to have flashing lights reading "Don's Crazy!" on screen, and yet we don't learn anything more about him. "Dirt" was originally written to focus on Don, so I can guess at least we can be thankful that it doesn't.

The other subplot is a classic Faustian dilemma: Floundering actor Holt McLaren (Josh Stewart) overhears some gossip about a young starlet and agrees to sell the story to Drrt in exchange for a puff piece in Now. That starlet then blames Julia, her best friend and Holt's girlfriend, for leaking the story. Because there's no such thing as an overblown metaphor for good and evil, the young starlet overdoses on cocaine, and Holt runs to Lucy to say he's had a change of heart and won't ever work with the devil — er, Drrt — again. Lucy shows him footage of his girlfriend cheating on him and tells Holt no dice: He's one of her sources now.

The story actually gets more ridiculous from there: The starlet dies, and when Holt finds out, he starts driving like a madman across the LA freeways, wrecking his car in a sequence of terrible "Dukes of Hazzard"-ish special effects. He pulls Julia from the wreckage, carries her from the scene as the car explodes in the background, and appears on the nightly news as a "real-life action hero." Oy.

Nobody on "Dirt" seems to have any fun doing what they do — not the actors vying for fame, not Crazy Don, and not even Lucy, who we see at the end of the episode alone in bed, surrounded by larger-than-life proofs of Drrt. "Dirt" could have been my new guilty-pleasure show, but judging from the pilot, there's not a lot of pleasure (guilty or otherwise) in watching it.


Join The Conversation
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Gave it a second chance last night--for 15 minutes. I just don't care about any of the characters, where they've been or where they're going.
cath cath 10 years
I also think a problem could be that Courtney and David hate the paparazzi so they are going to portray the gossip industry in the worst light possible, but in the process will kill her show.
cath cath 10 years
I completely agree with your review. I wanted to enjoy it and it was ok in the beginning, but they need to make it a little more fun and little less melodramatic.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
Haha, Mopsy, it's funny that you were watching it with your dad!!! How totally uncomfortable was that when the strap on scene happened?!? Blech. :P
Pokemyhontas Pokemyhontas 10 years
I'm giving it another chance to see if it gets any better. I'm hooked on most of the FX series.
RCLdesigngirl RCLdesigngirl 10 years
I was watching the Sugar Bowl.
ethiopian_princess ethiopian_princess 10 years
Cold like Monica on Friends and Courtney in real life? It's basically clear now that most of the actors on Friends were terrible. It's not acting if the character is like you. I read the reviews, so I saved myself an hour of time. The idea (gossip columnist at 2 magazines and her life) is a recipe that would seem to sell itself, but I'm guessing the team behind it (writers, producers, directors are particularly bad.
Sami10 Sami10 10 years
It needs time to develop. The characters are one-dimensional. It was dark, both figuratively and literally. The scenes were dimly lit and the characters were horrible people, with the exception of the bartender. I'll watch it again and hope that it gets better. The gratuitous sex surprised me, particularly coming from a production from CC and her husband. I still love her but I have less respect for her as a professional.
Lindsb Lindsb 10 years
Haha. I am with Rubi.. I thought the show was entertaining! Haha.. Definitely better than some of the other crap out there. I enjoyed watching Courtney play a b*tchy woman.. definitely a change of pace for her. I'll be watching next week.
Mopsy Mopsy 10 years
I watched it and thought it was crazy racy and dark and bitchy....something totally different. I don't believe there IS supposed to be a "likeable" character. I think CC was great and showed that to be in that biz you have to TRY to be cutthroat, even if it's not truly in your nature. Hollywood, it's a crush or be crushed town. If you stab someone in the back, do you think about it for days, discuss the moral dilemma with friends over coffee and then decide what you're going to do? Hell no!! Spur of the moment deception. Awesome! I can't wait for the next episode! I do agree that the strap-on scene was a little much, though.....especially since I was watching it with my dad. :)
lizzie_ttu lizzie_ttu 10 years
I actually liked this show! And I really enjoyed seeing Courteney Cox out of her "Monica" element. She looks great and plays bitchy to a "T." I'll definitely tune in again!
zeldapommeroy zeldapommeroy 10 years
I didnt care for Drrt. Courtney's character seemed too harsh, they should have written her to be a little more sympathetic to the audience, and the car crash at the end was ridiculous. I'll tune in one more time to see if it improves.
AmyLyn AmyLyn 10 years
I thought it was fun and I liked it. It was edgy and wasn't afraid to give you the creeps instead of the warm fuzzies. I can't wait to see how the season goes.
lovely lovely 10 years
Oh my, this show was so bad on so many levels: the worst being that there are no redeemable characters. It is too dark. The most likeable character was the bartender that Lucy slept with. Not the kind of show I need on a Sunday night..or ever, for that matter. I too turned it off.
arianell arianell 10 years
Yeah, I watched it for a few minutes and turned it off. Blech. There's just nothing appealing about it... the plot, the characters, and the setting just seem totally bleak. And I was really looking forward to it, too.
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
It was so bad I turned it off! :oops:
flutterpie flutterpie 10 years
the scenes were mild compared to what they show on nip/tuck. i think the show just needs some time to grow and come into its own. i know he thinks you're fine and stuff but does he know how to wind you up?
lovekailua lovekailua 10 years
i was super excited too...i felt they crammed wayyy too much into an hour. I'm still going to give it a few more episodes. i actually like Don (and CC)...but i love most guys who love cats ;o) lol!jj
rubialala rubialala 10 years
Aw, man! Looks like I'm the only one who liked this show. I did feel that the nudity scenes and drug use were inappropriate for television, but other than that, I really liked it! Don was my favorite character.
audreystar audreystar 10 years
yeah i saw the last 1/2 hr and it looked pretty crummy.
sophi sophi 10 years
It was so bad, I stopped watching half way through. From the sounds of it, I didn't miss much.
luv_my_junk luv_my_junk 10 years
This is disappointing to read...I was looking forward to watching it tonight (my hubby set the DVR for us). Now maybe I'm not so excited...thanks for the heads up!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Whew. Glad to know that I wasn't the only one disappointed. Everyone seemed "off"--especially Courtney, who just didn't seem to be quite comfortable in her role. I really wanted to like the show, but after last night, I don't think I'll be watching the rest.
princis11 princis11 10 years
I actually didn't mind it so much, although the plot line is extremely far fetched and there's way too much they tried to cram into an hour, to be fair though, the show ran without commercials, so I wonder if they felt they needed to add more. I thought CC was awesome, other than that no one really stands out in the show, hopefully the show will get stronger and more believable.
TnVolGal TnVolGal 10 years
This show was beyond horrible. I have been patiently waiting for this premiere for a long time and was extremely disappointed. I love CC and didn't really think she was right for this role. They should have thrown Heather Locklear in there, you know someone who can play a good bitch. Courteney is just not that person. The schizo paparazzi was just ridiculous with his cat and all. I still think the show could have great potential but not as it is.
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