The L.A. Complex: 1.01 “Down in L.A.”

Season 1 Episode 1
Airdate: January 10, 2012

The LA Complex is a new drama from Epitome Pictures, the Degrassi people. They can barely put together one TV series, and now they want to make another. I don’t get it either. It’s set in Los Angeles and about a group of plucky young hipsters with aspirations of making it in showbiz. After years of Degrassi constantly forgetting it takes place in Canada, the producers have said, “Fuck it let’s just make a show about the US.”

We are introduced to the characters while the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ song “Zero” plays, because they are zeroes! You can tell Epitome is betting on this show to be their big success, because more production values went into this one opening montage than a whole season worth of Degrassi episodes.

Cassie Steele (Manny from Degrassi) plays Abby Vargas, a Philippine-Canadian girl who came to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of acting, even though her family back home doesn’t support her. So…she’s Manny.

Then there is Raquel Westbrook, played by Jewel Staite (Kaylee from FIREFLY!!!). Kickass dude. Raquel is an actress who found fame on a canceled TV show but now struggles to find work as an aging actress. She is 29 in real life. Oh for fuck.

Then we meet a blonde girl named Alicia Mann who wants to dance.

We go back to Abby, who is climbing a fire escape to break into an apartment.

Then we meet Nick Wagner, an aspiring standup comic with a day job at a coffee shop.

Then we see a black guy named Tariq Muhammad. He is an intern for some hip hop guy and doesn’t understand that having an entry level job means doing the crappy, low level work no one else wants to do.

Then we meet Connor Lake, an actor from Britain or possibly Australia.


Abby runs out her apartment with a HOCKEY bag of her stuff. Her landlord chases her with HOCKEY stick yelling about how he gets all her belongings because she skipped out on rent. Abby gets into her car and drives off, but not before her landlord smashes in her back window. A car window is about the same as rent for a one bedroom, so they are even!

The song ends and we see the title card.

Abbey is stuck in famous Los Angeles gridlock (famous because the media is based in LA and they like to talk about themselves). Then her engine overheats. How can this day get any worse?!!

We go back to Tariq, while is sitting around while the adults work on a new hippity-hop beat .He gets a call from Abby, who wants him to drive her to an audition. But Tariq can’t and says, “Dynasty is working on some beat for Drake and it’s not going so hot.” They need to get this track up to the high standards demanded by Drake, who needs this for his Mountain Dew commercial.

Then we see Nick trying out his new act on Connor, a lame joke about bags. Nick wants to sell Connor’s thrown out pills. Man, that’s the opposite of how it works. First you became a famous comedian. Then you develop the prescription drug habit.

Raquel is mad Connor didn’t get her a part on his new TV show. Connor says the producers wanted someone closer to his age. Whoa! “Next time you’re lonely at 2 in the morning,” says Raquel, “call somebody else.” I don’t know if this means they are fuck buddies or he is gay.

Nick comes to Abby’s aid and adds coolant to her engine. He warns her to take care of all tickets she has on her dashboard, or else the city will place a boot on her car. Oh, she totally won’t get her car booted by the end of the episode!

Abby’s agent, whose skin is melting off, calls and says she missed the audition. At least Nick gets Abby a new apartment in the building he lives, a former motel where most of the main characters reside.

They live in an L.A. complex.

That night, there is a big party around the pool with lots of people and a band and booze. Which would totally happen in real life because every tenant would be cool with a big noisy party right outside their door in the middle of the night. On the other hand, no one in this motel appears to have a job or any other reason to get up before noon.

Raquel lives here too. Two young men want her to read their script. Jewel Staite should play herself, as an actress struggling for a role after Firefly. Those two boys should be annoying Whedon fans who want her to act in their erotic fanfiction.

A woman not wearing a top says to Abby and Tariq, “You guys want some E?” No one in America calls it that, Canadian producers, unless they are specifically referring to that episode of Degrassi.

Nick introduces Abby to his friend, Connor, who will be the lead in an upcoming TV series. Now, Nick has wanted to get in Abby’s pants for awhile, that’s why he helped her out with her car and has been all nice to her. But Connor made a move first. They kiss on the roof which leads to sex. Anyone with a telescope is going to get lucky tonight!

That morning, Abby and Connor wake up in unison on the roof, somehow sunburn free and with their undies still on. Abby asks him if he used a condom, Connor is like, “Wha…no.”  They are called “rubbers” in his country.

“I thought you said you were on something,” he says.

“Yeah,” replies Manny, “drugs.”  Ho-ha!

The two decide to go to the pharmacy to get the Morning After Pill. Which seems really unnecessary since it is clear they just dry humped. Cassie Steele should be playing Manny here. Abby and Manny are basically the same person. And Manny did go off to Hollywood. I originally heard this show was going to be a Degrassi spin-off. Then it was called Highland Gardens, which isn’t even a pun.

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