”Private Practice”: Female troubles
Now we know why the first two episodes of Private Practice sucked: Addison wasn’t herself.
She wasn’t herself because she’d gotten so worked up, leaving rainy Seattle for sunny Santa Monica, that she’d convinced herself she was about to experience magic every day. So in episodes 1 and 2, she was anxious and wrapped up in herself and, I’ve said it before, dumb. She was so wrapped up in herself that she couldn’t take in what was happening to everyone around her, so (and this is where I’m giving Shonda Rimes and crew the benefit of the doubt) we couldn’t really get to know everyone around her yet.
But now the real Addison is beginning to emerge. Last night, we saw her be truly empathetic (if a little bit overbearing and inappropriate at the same time). We saw her let her guard down and open up to Pete’s way of doing things. (For those keeping score, it’s Eastern Medicine: 2; Western Medicine: 0.) And with the real Addison emerging, we got a nicely tailored, thematically interwoven collection of plots about marriage and making choices and finding perfection that had emotional resonance because, finally, we knew something about these characters’ lives, particularly their pasts.
And it all washed out in the rain. A nice motif, the rain. Yes, it rains in Southern California. I haven’t really experienced that yet, but I’m told it happens. And that reality sinking in helped bring some reality to this budding series.
Reality check No. 1: They have a daughter! Thank you, Shonda Rimes, for leaving no child behind. I was worried that Naomi and Sam had left their daughter on Grey’s last season — that she’d been taken out with the trash, like poor Merrin Dungey. But there she was, all dressed up in her Catholic-school uniform. I’m just glad she’s alive.
Reality check No. 2: Pete’s late wife. Pete stood in the rain at his wife’s grave and told her that Violet had said he should do this to heal, but he was skeptical. Now, I would’ve thought that Buddha Pete would already be on board with this kind of talk-it-out stuff, but why quibble? We acquired so much information: She died in 2001, at 40 years old, while asleep in bed next to him, and their marriage was terrible.
Reality check No. 3: Addison was finding her equilibrium, realizing that life is not perfect, no matter where she lives. Important. And Naomi was a good, supportive, but challenging friend. Also, in a number of scenes — one of which was pretty sexy — Naomi ate a lot of cake. In fact, we saw so much of her sitting down shoveling cake in her face that I thought Audra McDonald must be pregnant and they were covering it with the cake, as if cake were the new laundry basket — great for hiding an expanding waistline! — and they would later say that she’s fat, the way they did with Daphne on Frasier. Boy, that was dumb. Alas, Naomi stood up later, and she’s thin. Carry on!
Reality check No. 4: Violet in action with that guy from Weeds. I love him! Violet seemed a little more life coach than therapist last night, but those lines are so blurred nowadays, who’s to say that that’s wrong? Meanwhile, he played a variation on his cuckolded Weeds character. But, hey, he does it well.
And then we met the woman who thought her ”hoo-ha” was broken — and it turned out it kinda was!
NEXT: The Blue Girl Group
Back to Weeds guy and his bleeding wife. Boy, is she bleeding a lot. Which leads to my big complaint with this show right now (which, I must say, is minor compared with my complaints about it the last two weeks): Do these doctors have the appropriate facilities to handle the kinds of emergencies they’re dealing with? They brought the bleeder to the hospital (where we had a brief visit with our no-longer-crying chief; she’s back to being a bitch), but shouldn’t those blue children have gotten there sooner? Cooper seemed kind of ill equipped to handle the situation, though he did eventually figure it out with some CSI: Santa Monica techniques, like donning a butterfly outfit and following the girls to their ”castle,” which was filled with fertilizer. D’oh!
Okay, they have a character named Violet on the show, and they had children turning blue, but they didn’t take the opportunity to make a ”Violet, you’re turning Violet” reference? Sigh. Do I have to do everything here, people? Work with me?.
Oh, sorry, one more big complaint: the women on this show. They’re either evil, like the bleeding woman, who seemed to have literally no redeeming qualities, and Pete’s late wife, who, among other lesser and greater crimes, hogged the covers; or they’re desperate for sex, like Naomi and the hoo-ha woman; or they’re flawed healers, like Addison; or they’re weak, like Violet, who, when she got strong, was ”being a man.” Man, let’s strengthen these women up! Every other commercial during this show is for a feminine product of some sort (BTW, Miralax? Doesn’t that sound like something Harvey Weinstein would take to lose weight?), and ABC has clearly become Chick Central. So can’t they make some of these women a little bit more together sometimes? Would that be so tough to do?
I was happy to see Naomi stand up for herself, throwing the proverbial cake back at the poor, love-struck, fake cake-baking kid. Hmmm?did someone leave her cake out in the rain? Funny, MacArthur Park is in Los Angeles. Maybe they’re planting clues about Lost on this show. Where’s Doc Jensen when you need him?
Ultimately, they wrapped up all these story lines really well. They weren’t as emotional as in previous weeks, but they don’t need to be every time — especially if there’s more meaning in the plotlines with the cast regulars. And they capped it off with Addison in bed in the rain. Lovely.
So, TV Watchers, when is Naomi going to get more to do than be angry at Sam, be supportive of Addison, eat cake, and spew one good one-liner an episode (”Sorry, I thought we were saying weird stuff”)? Are you as happy as I am that Pete’s character finally came to life with his revelations about his wife? Doesn’t Tim Daly deserve a good role after the undeserved failure of Eyes? Is anyone really as evil as the bleeder was to her husband? Have the ”celebrate the moments of your life”, uh, moments on this show gotten out of control, since they included three women and happened about three times this week? Are Violet’s flaws endearing, or does she just need a really good vacation and some hot sex? Maybe she should go where Stella went to get her groove back — where she’ll find Taye Diggs.
(Read Ken Tucker’s review.)