Saturday, August 22, 2009

As Long As It's Out of "Love"...

Here's the thing. I have this idea in my head that I love television and television shows a lot more than I actually do. When the television is free in my house (which happens once in a blue moon, since my parents get up earlier than I do, my sisters and my father get home before I do, and my sisters stay up later than I do), I will sit there and desperately attempt to find anything on worth watching. I'm here to say - there isn't much.

I also watch a lot of shows on Hulu, because I don't spend *enough* of my time in front of a computer screen. This mostly happens when I should be writing something but am too tired, should be writing something and am awake but have no ideas, want to be writing something but have nothing gelling, or when my family has descended into chaos beyond my bedroom door. That last one happens quite a bit, what with the "two teenagers in the house who share one tiny bedroom" thing.

So, what invariably ends up happening is that I watch some bad television, like Dark Shadows, and some television I would never watch if it contained the normal length commercial breaks, like Royal Pains.

I started watching Royal Pains because it had Cliff Calley from The West Wing. Or, more precisely, the actor who played Cliff Calley. Who also played Simon Stein in In Her Shoes, and Isaac in Defiance. I really like all of those things, and I really liked Cliff/Simon/Isaac in all of those things. This may not be a great reason, but since I like the newest addition of the Cliff/Simon/Isaac line up - Hank - it's working out okay so far. But Royal Pains has never been a show I'd sit down at 10 o'clock on a Thursday night to see 'live'. And it is quickly becoming a show I will stop watching on Hulu, because it sucks. It sucks, specifically in its portrayal of the male-female romantic relationships among the minor characters.

Take, for instance, the relationship between Sofia and her husband Javier in "Crazy Love". Javier pays for Sofia's breast augmentation - and does so in order to plant a radioactive GPS tracking device without her knowing inside her body. The scene where Cliff/Simon/Isaac/Hank confronts Javier with the evidence is pretty okay:
HANK [Holding up a glass tube with the tracking device inside]: What do you know about this?

JAVIER: Nothing. What is it?

HANK: A piece of metal that almost killed your wife.

JAVIER: What? It was supposed to be completely safe.

HANK: Yeah, not when you put it inside a magnet 50,000 times more powerful than the Earth's magnetic field. We're lucky it didn't rupture a major organ. Just one of the safety hazards when you implant metal in someone without their consent.

JAVIER: I asked the surgeon to put in the GPS, but he said she'd be fine. He said she'd never find out.

HANK: Well, sure. Otherwise putting a GPS in your wife's implant would just seem crazy.

JAVIER: You must understand. Haven't you ever done anything foolish for a woman?
Except it takes a turn for the worse when Cliff/Simon/Isaac/Hank doesn't call Javier the fuck out on the fact that paying a surgeon to implant a GPS in your wife's breast without her consent isn't a foolish fucking thing he did "for" her. It is something he did "to" her; it is something he did "to" her without her consent, and it is something he did "to" her that nearly killed her, and it is something he did "to" her because his "need" to keep track of her overrode her humanity and her ability to decide that she might just want to dump his lying ass.

Instead, Hank looks slightly chastened. Not put upon, not "you fucking psycho, I'm calling the cops", but "yeah, I guess I've done something foolish for a woman" - which completely fucking fails to acknowledge that doing something like planting a GPS in a woman's body without her consent isn't 'foolish'. Well, it is. But it isn't a benign act of foolishness. It is an act that would be reprehensible even if Sofia never found out about it, even if she'd never in her life needed an MRI, even if the tube never broke and gave her radiation poisoning. Hank ignores the fact that Javier's 'foolishness' is a criminal one, one that not only put Sofia in grave danger but one that failed to recognize Sofia as an autonomous human being who is deserving of the truth and of respect. Javier's 'foolishness' was an act of violation, and it should have been treated as such by the doctor standing before him. Because even if he were only a relatively decent human being, Cliff/Simon/Isaac/Hank should recognize behavior that is this profoundly fucked up as profoundly fucked up. However, Cliff/Simon/Isaac/Hank is presented not as a relatively decent human being but a out and out good one, one who will doctor the sick regardless of who they are or their ability to pay. And because of that, his lack of adequate response to the situation before him is even more galling. Because I think we can all agree that surgically planting loved ones with tracking devices is just not cool.

Except. Maybe we can't all agree on that. I can so see Edward Cullen doing that to Bella. After all, when this starts showing up on bedroom walls (ganked from Mzbitca's What A Crazy Random Happenstance):
obviously our ideas about proper male romantic partner behavior is fairly screwed up. This is even furthered by Sofia's reaction to Javier's atrocious and potentially deadly behavior. When Javier comes to see Sofia when she is recovering from radiation poisoning in the hospital, all is swept under the rug:
JAVIER: I didn't know that thing was poison. I was just so afraid of losing you.

SOFIA: I can't believe you did that to me Javier. I had no idea you loved me so much.

[HANK and DIVYA smile]
To which I say, "Whaaa?" Again, Hank just stands there and offers tacit approval for a continuing relationship where the guy almost killed his wife (accidentally) because he was a big enough jackass to believe he was in the right to know exactly where she was and where she was going even if she didn't tell him. And Hank, our Hero, accepts the continuing of this romance. Sofia, our patient, almost revels in this gross violation and the fact that Javier couldn't just be a Big Boy and talk to his wife about the problems he was going through.

Earlier in the episode, Sofia gives a description of her rings:
He bought me this one [giant, expensive ring] because he stayed away too long on business... And then this one [another giant, expensive ring] just because he thought I looked beautiful one afternoon. You want to know what I see? I see this [small, inexpensive pink ring]. When we met in Caracas, this was the only thing he could afford. He bought it from a street vendor, and I love it.
It is sweet, and demonstrates that Javier's fears in regard to Sofia leaving him once he has lost his fortune are ungrounded. But that doesn't mean she shouldn't leave him for his crappy treatment of her. And it was, beyond crappy. It doesn't mean Javier should be forgiven, just because she loves him. What it does mean is that if Sofia had left him, or had even just suggested that planting a GPS in her chest without her knowledge was a not okay thing to do and that they would probably have to do something like get Javier's ass into some intensive therapy sessions, it would have been fairly obvious is was because of Javier's duplicitous, dangerous, and dismissive behavior in regard to his wife. It would have been hard to argue that Javier lost the woman he loved because he lost his money, instead of losing the woman he loved because he took Edward Cullen-esque stalking up a few notches.

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