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"Let Them Eat Cake": Why I Can't Get Enough of "Dirty Sexy Money"

I've gotten several emails from readers wondering why I'm not giving any Televisionary love to freshman drama Dirty Sexy Money on ABC. Good question.

The fact is that Wednesday nights are so crowded with series, from Pushing Daisies to Top Model, that I occasionally end up turning in before I get a chance to watch Dirty Sexy Money that night. Really, that's the only reason why I haven't mentioned Dirty Sexy Money (other than in every Wednesday's What I'm Watching Tonight section), a snarky and fun series which I absolutely love. (Well, except for the way OTN title.)

The past week's episode of Dirty Sexy Money ("The Bridge") reaffirmed my love for the series. It's been a bouncy ride, from the buoyancy of the original pilot script to the finished series, which has greatly improved on that disastrous and dour early cut of the pilot I saw way back when in early May, complete with a blackmail-laden lunchtime get-together between Nick and a "journalist" that provided a framework device for the entire hour. Whew. Instead, the series has blossomed into a smart, tongue-in-cheek drama with a penchant for combining moral dilemmas (such as those faced constantly by protagonist Nick), soapy hysterics, and the best use of ringtones on broadcast television.

While I'm aware that Nick has his reasons for staying in the Darlings' employment (namely solving the murder of his dear old dad), I'm glad that for the most part this is taking a backseat to the dysfunctional dynamics of the most gleefully screwed up family since we last said goodbye to the Bluths of Orange County. Yes, Dutch's murder provides a nice serialized undercurrent to these episodes but I don't think I'm alone in saying that the mystery behind his demise is the least interesting thing about the series. (Personally, I'm more invested in the mystery as to which Darling child--or children--aren't actually Tripp's.)

Instead, I'm loving the push and pull between these deeply flawed individuals: the inanity of Juliet's feud with Natalie Kimpton (over bangs, no less) and her Marie Antoinette themed birthday bash (Is that really the way they painted women's toenails in 1789?"); Jeremy's disconnect with any sort of cogent reality; Tish's sustained grief over the loss of her secret lover (whose 40-year-long affair is the source of much drama); Karen's refusal to accept the fact that Nick has moved on from their teenage amour; Patrick's inability to break off his affair with transsexual Carmelita; Brian's complete insistence to icy wife Mei Ling that the boy who has moved in with them is a Swedish orphan named Gustav.

It's this last storyline that has provided the most mirth, in my opinion; I didn't much care for overbearing, irate Brian in the pilot episode, but seeing him paired with Brian Jr. (a.k.a. Gustav) has opened up his hypocritical character in unexpected and rewarding ways. While I fully expected that the truth about Brian's illegitimate child to come out eventually, I am glad that it revealed itself in the way that it did: with Brian Jr. telling Mei Ling--relaxing in a bubble bath--that he's going to hell for lying after hearing a Bible story about honesty. Brian Sr., meanwhile, finally came clean to his family. I loved how he's now moved back into the familial manse (in his own room, with bunk beds, no less) while he tries to win back his estranged wife. Dare I say that creator Craig Wright has done the impossible and made me care for Brian?

Sure, there are some flaws. I'm not entirely sure what's going on with Samaire Armstong's Juliet, who always seems drunk, high, or, well, mentally disabled, a performance not helped by Armstong's recent entrance to an outpatient program for personal issues. And I wish that the writers would do some serious work on Zoe McLellan's Lisa; Nick's wife needs some more depth and needs something to do more than just glower uncomfortably every time Karen hits on her husband or he's summoned away for Darling family business. Plus, I'd be perfectly content if the Dutch George murder story took a backseat to some other plotlines for a while (like the paternity of the Darling heirs), especially if Wright plans on implicating techno-philanthropist Simon Elder (Blair Underwood).

But those are minor flaws in a series that has become, with each week, more vivid, quirky, and hilarious than fellow Alphabet network sib Ugly Betty. I thank the Lords of Kobol that the Darlings aren't my family, but I am more than delighted to catch up with them each week. Let's just hope that ABC does us a favor and picks up the back nine of the wickedly funny Dirty Sexy Money.

What do you think? Are you as sucked in as I am to Dirty Sexy Money's soapy pleasures? And which Darling child do you think is really Dutch's? Me, I can't help but think that it's going to wind up that acrimonious Brian who is Nicky's sibling after all...

On the next episode of Dirty Sexy Money ("The Game"), Tripp and Simon Elder face off in a high-stakes poker game, Karen discovers she's still married to her last husband (guest star Eddie Cibrian), Jeremy beings his job as a parking attendant, a blackmailer targets Patrick, and Juliet introduces Brian Jr. to the notion of materialism.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Chuck (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/Aliens in America (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC; 8-9:30 pm); House (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/Rules of Engagement (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (CW); Samantha Who (ABC; 9:30-10 pm); K-Ville (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Journeyman (NBC); The Bachelor (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Chuck.

You know how much I'm already in love with this dramedy, from creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, so why don't you do me a favor and tune in? On tonight's episode ("Chuck Versus the Sandworm"), Chuck considers helping an agent get away from his handlers when he notices similarities between his circumstances and his own, while Morgan feels abandoned by Chuck as Halloween approaches.

9:30 pm: Samantha Who?

On tonight's episode ("The Wedding"), Samantha goes to a friend's wedding only to discover that she had been uninvited by the bride. Oops.

10 pm: Journeyman.

It's Kevin McKidd (Rome) as a time-traveling newspaper reporter in a drama that's more about human interactions and the nature of choice than, say, technicolored time machines. On tonight's episode ("Keepers"), Dan helps two brothers who are traumatized by their father's abuse and a private conversation between Katie and Jack is overheard by Dan and Livia.

10 pm: Weeds on Showtime.

The third season of Showtime's acclaimed comedy, Weeds continues. On tonight's episode ("The Dark Time"), Celia shocks Nancy when she says that she wants in on Nancy's drug business; Conrad and Heylia must remove their, er, crops from the warehouse when a fire inspector shows up; Andy and Dean go to play Murderball.


Anonymous said…
I think the twins are Nick's siblings.
Anonymous said…
What happened to the full feeds?
Jennifer said…
I thought it was hinted pretty strongly in this week's episode that the twins aren't Tripp's...with that whole speech about how they're different from the others. Which either means that's the case or it's a complete misdirection...
Unknown said…
Loving this also.. But Jace, no mention of Big Shots? Big Shots, Dirty Sexy Money & Chuck are 3 favourites from the current schedule!
I heart the Darlings. They put the "fun" back in dysfunctional family!
JJB said…
I love love love Dirty Sexy Money. But I do have a love/hate relationship with Nicky. I see glimpses of Nate Fisher at times, and while I will always miss Six Feet Under, I also love when actors go in a completely different direction than their last role (like Michael C. Hall has done in Dexter).

I thought that Brian would be Nicky's sibling, but the story line with the twins seemed to be foreshadowing the reveal. But I also thought that Tripp might have focused on their differences because they are the youngest, the ones he can still try to mold, the ones that are still his own to mold.
Carrie said…
I absolutely adore this show.

I think Brian is probably Nick's sibling, but wouldn't it be deliciously, disgustingly wrong if it was Karen? I doubt network television would go there, but damn.

I mostly tune in for the adventures of the crazy Darling family, but Nick has also grown on me. The struggle he goes through to try to maintain his commitment to the Darling family and not get sucked into their excessive world is compelling so far. It adds a depth to him that without would not be as interesting.

I heard they ordered more scripts, but I hope they go ahead and just pick this one up. This is great soap!
Unknown said…
This is a fun watch, but I think I could drop it pretty easily. It's not funny enough to watch as a comedy, and it's certainly not a drama. I, too, hope the who-killed-Nick's-father storyline goes away ASAP.

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