At the beginning of the fall season, one of the new shows I was the most interested in was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Particularly since the president of the show’s ‘NBS’ network was going to be a woman- it seemed like it had some really good possibilities from the start just by avoiding the mindset of Person in Charge= Man in Charge.
The show has numerous problems, but the most troubling to me is the one involving the relationship between Jordan McDeere (the network president) and Danny Tripp (the show-within-a-show’s producer). Jordan is pregnant, and for a short period Danny was the only one who knew. For some reason that I spent the first half of the episode trying to figure out, he invited himself to her OB/GYN appointment, bad mouthed the father for not being there before he even knew who that was or why he wasn’t there, discussed the father’s absence with the doctor, and had the following exchange with Jordan:
Danny: “We’re having a baby?”
Jordan: “I’m having a baby.” (said in a tone that implied that was funny and/or cute)
Danny: “Relax, you’ll be involved.”
That in itself is 9 different kinds of creepy, superior, and paternalistic. And he is her employee, which makes the entire situation weirder. With another, more sympathetic character, it might not have played as strangely as it did- but Danny is not the person to go to for any sort of emotional support. He’s a control freak with pretty much zero tolerance for any human failings but everyone is supposed to forgive his own, and I have no trouble imagining him deciding to “manage” her pregnancy because it might interfere with her nonstop protection of his show. Basically he just comes off as a jerk a lot of the time and there has been little textual support that would incline me to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But for me the scene that pushed this from ‘struggling show I still think has potential’ to ‘place holder before Good Eats‘ was how, after spending the whole episode dithering about it, Danny realizes he’s falling for Jordan and tells her:
“I’ve been married twice before and I’m a recovering cocaine addict. And I know that’s no woman’s dream of a man. Or of a father. Nonetheless, I believe I’m falling in love with you. If you want to run, I understand, but you better get a good head start, because I am coming for you, Jordan.”
Is he declaring love or inviting her to a showdown at high noon? Was that supposed to be romantic? In what universe is that not the scariest relationship beginning ever? There’s some sort of weird vibe where it sounds like there’s a veiled threat of “I will not give up, I will not back off, even if you tell me to”. I thought society had progressed past clubbing women over the head and dragging them off to be married to whomever was strong enough.