I must admit, I quite enjoy Las Vegas. Sure, it’s cheesy, campy, and Danny and Ed invariable get the better of whatever grand scheme some criminal mastermind attempted to foist on them. But it doesn’t pretend to be anything but cheesy, campy fun, and I’ve always been a sucker for stuff which doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.
And in it’s favour, it has some pretty decent female roles. Delinda is a ditz and a daddy’s girl, but she’s perfectly capable of running a busy restaurant (something no-one realises how hard it is until they’ve tried it) with great pizzazz, as well as being an experienced in several “˜men’s’ hobbies while still being very feminine. Sam is ruthlessly ambitious, going so far as to dig up the grave of a legendary casino host to get to his contact book, and is obviously a major reason the casino runs as efficiently as it does. She scams half the casino out of her husband who really should have known better, and she and Delinda pursue men the same way men pursue women. Mary is shyer then Delinda and Sam, but still very capable and always gets things done, no matter what pressure she’s under. All capable, confident women who I could respect and admire if they actually existed. Quite a feat for an American show which specialises in cheesy, campy fun.
Except then they introduce Monica Mancuso, played by Lara Flynn Boyle. Mancuso starts off well enough, a ruthlessly ambitious woman. She’s come from a few rungs beneath dirt on the social ladder, and clawed her way up by fair means or foul – rumours run to the effect of stripping and prostitution, as well as doing an Anna-Nicole and marrying a wealthy old man. None of this I minded; it showed she had hustle, a willingness to get out there and make something for herself.
At times Monica could be a bit eccentric – she pursued men aggressively and erratically, and picked pennies off the floor despite owning a multi-billion dollar casino – but I figured, she’s rich, and rich people can be eccentric. But then she starts getting reckless. She keeps butting into the job of her head of security, who finally quits. She turns off the security on a priceless Indian diamond, on loan from the Indian government, to try it on, only to have a thief waiting for such an opportunity steal it. She fires people at random, regardless of the business they bring to the casino. She gets it into her head that she and the new head of security (who doesn’t like her presence any more than the old one) are having some epic romance and sees him dobbing her into a potential buyer for the casino (for the sake of all their jobs and sanity) as an epic betrayal. And finally, she ends up flying off the roof (supposedly thanks to high cross-winds) and crashing to her death several hundred meters down the street.
I’ve written before about women who start of decent if flawed characters and ended up utter nutcases, but Mancuso has to be up there somewhere. Was the whole point to say, little lady, women can’t run casinos, can’t handle that much money, it’ll drive you crazy – let that be a lesson to all the other little ladies thinking of taking up such a challenge? Time after time I’ve seen perfectly good strong, ambitious, tension-creating characters reduced to stereotypes of bitchiness, incompetence or insanity. I guess men are trying to tell us that our real calling is to sit at home and let all the men have the fun.