TV

The Lip Biting Drama That Is 'Lip Service'

In typical British-drama fashion, Lip Service, set in Glasgow, gives us a lot more pretty girl skin -- and a lot more shocking punch to the gut -- than the Hollywood-style, pretty pedicured toes storytelling of L Word.


Lip Service

Cast: Laura Fraser, Ruta Gedmintas, Fiona Button
Network: BBC Three
Amazon

Edgy, dark, and with much better theme music than the now-defunct, US-based lesbian TV show, L Word (although you don't get to hear that theme music in the video, below) Lip Service, on Neftlix streaming stateside, had me hooked at the first episode.

Our L.A. "girls in tight dresses, who drag with moustaches, chicks driving fast, ingenues with long lashes" are always glam, always dressed fashionably, always living -- and eating -- relatively well, no matter their employment status (a topic not delved in too deeply but not matter, they all look so pretty in their fancy dresses at those fancy restaurants), and they always have lots of free time and very little inhibition to indulge in impulsive sex in semi-public places.

In typical American-style PC fashion, L Word tries to cover every subject and sub-culture in the lesbian world -- to a strenuous degree, at times (Max/Moira, anyone?) -- albeit with lots of 'pretty'. Indeed, L Word is titillating soap-opera, albeit with a ridiculous amount of, well, slippery soap. Why not? Bubbles are fun.

Across the Atlantic, set to the raw, blusey sound of an aching harmonica, we're introduced to the chilly, hard edges of Glasgow which, like real life does for most of us, constantly intrudes into the daily lives of our ladies in Lip Service. Indeed, the title is the only silly thing about this relatively well written drama (note: drama, not soap-opera). Un- and partial-employment, crappy jobs, misunderstandings and the messyness of 'other' real world people and the pressures that come with them regularly pierce that sweet, brief (and mercifully private) little bubble that is love (or lust).


As for the characters, I'll take Lip Service's deeply haunted, deeply buried heart of gold, dog-for-sex that is Frankie (played by Ruta Gedmintas in series 1 -- look up 'bedroom eyes' and you'll see her picture) to L Word's cute-in-boy-underwear also dog-for-sex -- but not so deep -- that is Shane (Katherine Moennig). Motives for Jenny Schecter's destructive behavior in L Word are as dark and mysterious as Mia Kirshner's amazing eyes (OK, you'll find her picture in that dictionary, too), whereas borderline criminal Lip Service' Sadie Anderson, who just begins to come into full bloom in series 2, feels a little too much like someone we've all rubbed shoulders with in our lives; that is, her selfish, hot / cold, wounded, tender / rough persona feels awfully real.

After a shocking incident -- I wish I had blinked and not seen that, it's too much like real life -- a dangerous aura gathers around the otherwise tender Det. Sgt. Sam Murray (Heather Peace), and I feel compelled to follow her brooding persona into series 3. Indeed Lip Service's characters are complicated and three-dimensional; simultaneously attractive and repulsive, sweet and at times, well, stupid. Don't let the sexy L Word-like poster fool you; that's just the shiny lure drawing you in before you feel the sting of the hook.

Is Lip Service a riff on L Word? Sure. Sans the L.A. sunshine, pool and pedicured toes. Does Lip Service get soapy, at times? Sure. I'm hoping that Tess (Fiona Button) finds true love, next series. Granted, Tess ain't no Alice Pieszecki (L Word's Leisha Hailey) but then, who is? There's only one Alice Pieszecki. Tess is, however, so sweet! Who wouldn't love to love her? Apparently, the striking Dr. Lexy Price (Anna Skellern) wouldn't, as she cant resist her own impulse to try to save everyone (what are you thinking, Dr. Price? Save yourself!).

In typical British-drama fashion, however, Lip Service gives us a lot more pretty girl skin -- and a lot more shocking punch to the gut -- than the Hollywood-style storytelling of L Word. Indeed, watching Lip Service is like having a good, hard run; you come back sweating, tired, and satisfied. You may occasionally indulge in that soothing bubble bath, yes, but no matter how sore it left you before, you'll keep going back out for the run. Even on a cold, grey, Glasgow day. Because it fills a need that's hard to explain.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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