Privileged – “All About Insecurities”

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“All About Insecurities”

November 11th, 2008

As far as new plot developments go, tonight’s episode of Privileged was not exactly a step forward for the series: while Megan’s college roommate Karen (Everwood’s Sarah Drew) arrives to add a new wrinkle to Megan’s position, the idea of Megan questioning how much her current position supports her talents and her future is something the show has dealt with quite often. While Rose and Sage do end up headlining at a club opening and hobnobbing with guest star Perez Hilton, we knew from last week that there were going to be some hiccups in their academic endeavours once their “careers” took off.

And yet, I actually thought a lot was done within these individual plot elements to give the stories some depth. Privileged is operating on a feather-light structure, one that is dangerously close to being overtapped by my personal estimation, but if the show is able to subtlely move the story along as “All About Insecurities” did I believe that it can do very good things with the rest of this season and beyond.

What worked best here was the Rose and Sage story, for a few reasons. First off, Lucy Hale got a chance to show off her pipes, last witnessed in “American Juniors,” the short-lived American Idol spin-off featuring adorable, plucky pre-teens (YouTube video of one of her performances). Rose is definitely the most engaging of the two twins, and letting her let loose on her cover of “Fever” was just kind of fun. Being the younger cast members, this is the show’s chance to just kind of present some enjoyable fluff television – here, her voice was good and the show did a good job of making their storyline feel like the whirlwind fairy tale it was.

However, what I really enjoy is how they’re doing some nice, complex work demonstrating the trajectory that this is taking. You have Sage, who actually seems to be fairly smart and who finishes the novel in no time, being unable to match Rose’s talent but more capable at playing the social game when it comes to dealing with Perez Hilton. Then, you have Rose, who struggles to comprehend material and never finishes the novel, but whose talent is going to make her a bigger star if Patricia has her way. So, we have the girl who has no interest in going to Duke who is able to multi-task, and the one who actually cares about her academic future proving incapable of keeping up with the classes she wants to do well in and the career she’s being ushered into partially against her will.

Now, we all knew it was going down this path: the second they got a publicist, they were going to start to do poorly at school. However, I find that it’s actually really interesting: it’s placing Rose in a position where she has to rely on her sister to handle public relations and Megan to keep her motivated in school, all while having to make some tough decisions about the future. While the end result might be the same cliche that we knew would happen, Rose sitting struggling to put pen to paper at her final exam, I find that it is serving as an interesting springboard to their future storylines.

Similarly, we all knew that Megan’s blast from the past wasn’t going to be a pleasant one, especially once the promotion kicked into high gear. This feels like the right time to bring this particular conflict to the forefront: is Megan really going to want to be tutoring these girls forever, especially when she’s convinced she’s such a great writer? Sarah Drew was great as the outsider who doesn’t understand Megan’s new position: she’s a glorified (or, as Marco puts it, not too glorified) babysitter who has a boss with ridiculous expectations, so what’s stopping her from running off. We know, of course, that it’s her sentimental desire to actually help these girls, Rose in particular, but it is good to reaffirm those values on occasion.

And, for the most part, it makes sense by episode’s end: we understand why she would still work for Laurel (who is honestly bi-polar with her mood swings), and we understand why she’d stick around for Will. I’ve known for a while now that this pairing was inevitable (okay, so everyone and their mother knew it was inevitable from the pilot, but I meant that I read Mimoun was going through with it soon), and I think it works: while it’s a bit tough to necessarily see why Will would suddenly want to “stop being so cautious,” and that his work life would impact his relationship with Megan, their kiss was satisfying from a romantic perspective and I think the relationship makes a lot of sense.

I also think it is good that, before we rush into it, we got to see a bit more of Will outside of Megan’s influence. Michael Cassidy has gotten the majority of the romantic interest character building, actually becoming a full-formed character who got to interact with Rose and Sage independent of Megan, but Will has never quite achieved this. So while it was inevitable, the show is again smart to give us a sense of who Will is as a person (the job that Megan didn’t even know he had) before they want us to buy him as a romantic lead – yeah, he’s the hunky next door neighbour, but it’s clear that Privileged isn’t the type of show to let archetypes stay archetypes once they ask them to be a bit more.

So, overall, a solid episode that demonstrates that, even when fulfilling the foreshadowing we saw either from the very beginning or just last week, Privileged remains a smartly written and well executed addition to The CW’s lineup.

Cultural Observations

  • Perez Hilton was, indeed, looking quite svelte in his guest appearance, but it felt a bit pointless: rather than actually seeing the celebrities the girls meet, I much prefer their “I can’t believe Orlando Bloom gave you his number” asides that make this out to be a far more exciting universe than guest star budgets allow. When you go out of the way to bring in people of note, it kind of reminds us how few people we actually get to see. (Gossip Girl has the same issue, but it has such high opinions of its own characters that it’s turned them into celebrities in their own universe).
  • Confirmation came last week that the show now has 17 scripts ordered, so signs are looking good for a complete season – if ratings are stable this week, things are looking up for the series.
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