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Vinyl: Season 1, Episode 9 - "Rock and Roll Queen"

Leyla Hamedi

While the boring murder and crime storyline gets some airtime, we really delve deep into Vinyl's Madonna/whore problem in this episode.


Airtime: Sundays, 9pm
Cast: Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ato Essandoh, Juno Temple, Ray Romano
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 9 - "Rock and Roll Queen"
Network: HBO
Air date: 2016-04-10

"Screaming your heart out into a mic? It ain't cheap anymore," Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) exclaims once more with feeling. Like it or not, the label's sinking, so Richie brings in his old boss and noted crime lord Galasso into the mix, much to Zak Yankovich's (Ray Romano) and everyone else's dismay. Reluctantly on the wagon again due to a two-day incarceration dry out, Richie tries soberly to figure his life out and comes to the realization that he has alienated, disappointed, and screwed over the two most important people in his life: his wife, Devon (Olivia Wilde) and his best friend/business partner.

But he can fix it! Richie’s nothing if not a motivational thinker, and despite the fact that Zak finds out it was Richie who lost the 90K, and moving past the awkward moment where Richie tells Devon he accidentally murdered someone again, it looks like smooth sailing for Richie. Why? Oh, no reason. Just the fact that he's brought Galasso into the business, and now he's going to spy on him for the cops. Really, what could go wrong? Especially when Lester Grimes (Ato Essandoh) sees the man who destroyed his voice and career sitting as comfortably as can be in his band's label office.

If we just gloss over those pesky little things, Richie’s just the nicest, most optimistic, together guy in all of television. Richie's like that cousin who comes to visit every summer who's a little weird, but you have to be nice to him because he's family. Even if he always gets you in trouble, due to some wacky scheme up his (majestically purple) sleeves. But like that cousin, blood's thicker than water.

Speaking of blood, there's another nice comedic interlude that is just so messed up and horrible that you can't help but laugh. Richie goes to the Chelsea to find Devon and instead ends up bat-hunting with her lover, as well as hitting him in the head with a tennis racket. It's funny how people always seem to require medical attention around Richie.

Meanwhile, all the women have collectively decided to be both completely useless and an embarrassment to female characters in general. Andie (Annie Parisse) is supposed to be this tough, smart, cool chick, but first she tells Jamie (Juno Temple) to stop being a groupie, than publicly humiliates Cece (Susan Heyward) for being pregnant. There's being strong, and then there's trying to be "one of the guys". Yes, Andrea, you might need balls to survive this industry, but you don’t need to do it by becoming Richie and his ilk. We lose more respect for her for being a heartless bitch than for Jamie, who has sex with half the band she represents in this episode alone. Girls may not get picked to be A&R reps, because it's impossible to critique and direct bands with "cocks in their mouths" (charming choice of words, Andie), but the only other option's to lose all human decency?

It's not that Andie is a traitor to her "own kind" because of her scathing remarks to the women, it's that she's displaying her own weakness, and completely undermining her own got-it-togetherness. When she figures out Cece’s pregnant, she has a pointedly charged moment with Richie that leads us to believe maybe she, too, had an unwanted and most likely terminated pregnancy. But now she's throwing her history with Richie in his face; how’s that being professional?

(Good on Jamie for that threesome with Kip (James Jagger) and the new guitarist, though. Mott the Hoople and cute skinny punks say she's a winner. But uh oh, Kip may have caught feelings for her...)

Back to the general portrayal of women in Vinyl: in this series, either they can be wanton and have all the sex they want, or they're stuck in an endless Madonna/mother complex. Devon's caught between the two roles. What fun it is to shag and ride the dirty photographer, but what about the children! The Chelsea Hotel’s no place for her urine-soaked children! The show never seems to consider the outrageous concept that a woman can do both. Maybe not, however, in the hallowed halls of 1973.

Also, Clark (Jack Quaid), the ex-A&R turned mailroom guy brings disco to the minorities in the ‘hood. There's just so much wrong with that scenario that it's not even worth discussing. Bring on the finale already.


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