The Blog Formerly Known as Rebel Prince

Cult TV, Gen Y rants, and endless opera.

Hung: “Strange Friends, or The Truth Is, You’re Sexy”

Posted by therebelprince on July 23, 2009


“I’ve been a terrible pimp. At least, not very excellent.”

– Tonya

Hung

His daughter is dating a guy named Hammer, his son is listening to “death music”, and his ex-wife is falling apart at the mere sight of sad animals. But Ray has bigger problems – his first client stole his wallet after sex.

While Ray faces further financial woes, Tonya must step up in her role as pimp, and confront Lenore about the apparent theft. Jane Adams is a joy to watch, and it is a credit to her and the series’ directors that she’s willing to not always look her best. (Not that she looks like crap, but Tonya is a real woman who isn’t always made up and stylish).

Her first task as a pimp gets off to a bad start. In a crafty scene, Lenore plays her like a fool – she’s pocketed $400 off Ray’s credit card, and returns the wallet empty. Ashamed and browbeaten, Tonya pays Ray out of her own pocket without telling him.

Then, a dinner with their career advisor Floyd Gerber (Steve Hytner) leads to a fight between pimp and prostitute which threatens to ruin their partnership before it has begun. It’s the best scene in the episode, as Adams goes for broke letting loose Tonya’s frustration and lack of control. On her side, she’s still proof-reading and trying to bake her message bread (practicing here with cookies, which are a little bit disgusting what with the whole “laminated piece of plastic” in the middle aspect!). Meanwhile, Ray’s forced to do his own construction on the house, when he’s not being turned in to the cops for every tiny infraction by his white-bread lawyer Howard Koontz (Loren Lester).

Things come together though when Lenore – who I’m sure is certifiable – explains that the money was her commission, and she’s willing to start recommending Ray to the barrage of wealthy older ladies who hang on her advice. Tonya’s “Happiness Consultants” business appears to be underway.

Meanwhile, Jessica tries to reconnect with her children. She’s an odd character, played just as oddly by Anne Heche, and I’m really enjoying her, although I’m not sure where her storyline is headed. So far, everything Jessica does is perfect and watchable, but I’m not sure where she fits in the broader scheme of things. The best part of her plot, though, is Marylouise Burke as her grouchy European mother, here seen arguing that the injured animals in ASPCA ads are “actor dogs”.

I’ve really enjoyed this show thus far. It has solid performances, none of the characters strike me as typical, and the music is resounding: Craig Wedren‘s score incorporates a lilting piano, which later gives way to a mix of alternative songs.

Kelowna’s review comments that the series is deliberately postponing Ray’s arrival at prostitution, because they know there isn’t a lot of (original) ground to be plowed here. While I give a big shout-out to Kelowna for their interesting reviews, I must say I disagree. Yes, Flight of the Conchords did this entire storyline in one episode – but that’s part of the humour of that show. Most episodes of Conchords tell stories of entire relationships, road trips or emotional sagas which (thanks to both intertitles and asides) are deflated when we learn they took place over two or three days. In my last review, in fact, I praised Hung for not succumbing to the formula so early. This isn’t a formulaic broadcast network show, and so it isn’t acting like one. Don’t get me wrong, I do think the series will have to be inventive in its second season because by then we will have assumedly exhausted the “Ray and Tonya are new to the game” stuff. And, as I mentioned above, I can’t foresee the longterm potential of Jessica’s character. But that will be then; this is now.

My apologies for the brevity of these reviews; I’ll try and be more analytical next time. Until next week, check out reviews at Aryn’s Cult TV and Lake Pop

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