"It's Only a TV Show"

Kicking back on Anita's leather sofa, Craig crunches on some snacks while casually watching NASCAR on TV. Anita enters the room carrying two silk blouses, one rust, one ecru.

Anita: (Holding them up to her) Which one makes me look sexier?

Craig: (Still watching the TV) You look good in both

Anita: C'MON - help me pick

Craig: What's the point, it won't be on for very long tonight

Anita: (Smirking) True, but Marcy will probably want to go through the motions of dinner, first

Craig: Then go with the rust - the way you slop your food, the stains won't show as much

Anita: (Hanging them up) I like how you think, Captain... ooh, it's time for Sig7!

She goes over and switches the channel.

Craig: HEY, I was watching that!

Anita: NASCAR? - GIMME A BREAK

Craig: It's a legitimate sport

Anita: (Flopping into a leather chair) It's an excuse for a bunch of rednecks to get dressed up like clowns without people making fun of them and also to go speeding without getting pulled over by the cops

Craig: (Chewing) What's your point?

Anita: Heh... speaking of cops, one of my sources says that McBride is about to be collared

Craig: Do you think Darkfin will let that happen?

Anita: Doubtful, but she won't risk doing anything in broad daylight

Craig: Do you still think Morrigan is innocent?

Anita: Yeah, but until we can figure out the real killer, I'm not going to sacrifice my dad for her

Craig: Why are you worried about Frank?

Anita: If the case doesn't stick to KCON's girl-next-door, my dad is the next target - the community wants justice for Father Gregory and they want it pronto, forget the little things like due process and circumstantial evidence

Ursula as R'xal is now shown on the screen.

Craig: (Wincing) Ugh, I really didn't need to see her face right now

Anita: Have you spoken to her at all since the fight?

Craig: She called and we talked for few minutes... she blames me for breaking Martel's wrist - I wish I had broken his neck

Anita: What a bitch - at least you won't have to put up with her grating accent anymore

Craig: I happen to think it's lovely

Anita: (Rolling her eyes) Whatever

Craig: I had to call my AA sponsor the other night, this whole thing makes me want to drink again

Anita: Oh, PLEASE, Craig - she is so not worth that, you've made great progress, don't throw it all away on a washed-up supermodel turned B-actress

Craig: I'm concentrating on my daughter's visit and she is what's getting me through this

Anita: (Reaching over and patting his arm) Awesome

Craig: Thanks

Anita: In the future, try to find a single woman - or, if you can't, at least go back to obsessing over my sister - I know you could kick Sandy's ass and he doesn't have the clout to kill your career

Craig: That's real funny, Fiore

Anita: SHHH - Marcy's on!

The two watch a scene of Bogree battling R'xal.

Craig: I hope she's better in bed than she is as an actress

Anita: (Raising an eyebrow) How do you think she got that Emmy?

Craig: SHE WAS A KID... oh, don't even go there

Anita: If it makes you feel any better, my little thespian inamorata is not a box of chocolate kittens, either - I would drop her like a hot rock if I didn't want to do her so bad

Craig: Do her or "Jamie?"

Anita: Shut up, Craig

On-screen is a brutal battle scene in which one character is electrocuted to death.

Anita: (Stunned) NO FUCKING WAY - THEY JUST KILLED TWILA 12.0 - THAT IS SO WRONG

Craig: Is that the android with the alternative lifestyle?

Anita: I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY DID THAT - THEY SAID THEY WOULDN'T DARE - LYING BASTARDS

The screen now shows another character killing and eating her victims.

Anita: (On the verge of tears) OF COURSE - NOW, RIVREE HAS REVERTED BACK TO HER CARNIVORE STATE AND HAS GONE ON AN INSANE MURDER SPREE - NICE

Craig: (Finishing his bowl of snacks) Yep, what kind of sci-fi universe are we living in when the robot chick and the gator girl can't find true happiness?

Anita: (Scowling) Don't mock it, Phelps - it's easy for you straight white guys to just laugh it off - every show out there is brimming with your brotherhood while people of color and different orientations continue to be disposable token objects and/or a plot device for ratings-based exploitation... IT'S INSENSITIVE AND SICKENING

Craig: Relax, it's just a TV show

Anita: Nu-uh, that feeble excuse isn't going to cut it any longer - mainstream white America wants desperately to hide behind the simple facade of TV's sole purpose being entertainment, they like their little world exactly the way it is, they don't want anyone or anything rocking the boat - WRONG - the day the citizens of this country go out and deliberately try to educate themselves by reading and thinking beyond a fourth grade mentality, THEN, and only then, will I say that TV should be nothing more than entertainment - until that unlikely event occurs, television in particular has a social responsibility to enlighten as well as entertain!

Craig: Jesus Christ, are you running for office? - it's a silly syndicated space show with a giant dragon that shoots laser beams from its eyes

Anita: And we all know how there are no freaky creatures like that in REAL life

Craig sighs and picks crumbs out of his moustache.

Anita: Look, it's called media representation - God forbid we should see a Latino up there, or a Native American, or a differently-abled person in a meaningful role, let alone a happy gay couple getting some non-implied action under the sheets - of course, when Riv finally brings Twi back to her nest and they hook up, she gets electrocuted almost immediately afterward and steps away from where the deed went down

Craig: In case you haven't noticed, countless others - white guys and heteros - have died on Sig7

Anita: Yes, but they are in the MAJORITY - how many straight white leads are there, seven, eight? - the one and only prominent lesbian couple currently on television, once again, falls into the psycho villain/dead dyke cliche - it's been done over and over and over again, our sanctuary is gone, the hopelessness perpetuates, and it gleefully reinforces the bigotry of the bashers out there

Craig: Wait a minute, you still have the gay joker guy on this show

Anita: You mean JuJingo the royal jester? - complete window dressing - he's a stereotypical flamboyant queer who is only there to make the audience laugh and give R'xal fashion tips, he's a peripheral character who gets a grand total of 15 minutes of screen time a season, never gets laid, and only refers to his boyfriend as the butt - pun intended - of a joke... sorry, that's not helping the cause

Craig: It shouldn't be about "the cause" - it's about the overall vision and story arc

Anita: Yes, but there were other writing options - instead, we get a weak, unstable victim and a death that had no real reason or significance beyond shock value

Craig: Sometimes death doesn't have to be significant

Anita: You're right - when you have hundreds of other Sapphic couples to take their place... BUT YOU DON'T - this death demanded a sound purpose but got screwed over instead

Craig: (Placing the empty bowl on his face) I liked you better when you were making fun of NASCAR

Anita: I'm sorry to be so challenging right now - I'm just more than a little pissed

There is a knock at the door.

Craig: Expecting someone?

Anita: (Going over to the door) Not really - probably Mormons, go get the pepper spray

Anita opens it and is surprised to find Marcy standing there.

Marcy: (Big grin) Hello, Lieutenant

Anita: Hey, Marcy, come on in

Craig: (Sitting up) Hi, Ms. Nolan

Marcy: (Entering) Oh, Captain Phelps - I'm sorry, am I interrupting?

Craig: Not at all

Marcy: Ursi speaks very highly of you

Craig: She does?

Marcy: Well, the few times when I'm actually forced to speak with her, yes

Anita: I, uh... I thought we had plans later at the inn?

Marcy: Please don't hate me but we're going to have to reschedule - I'm needed on the set tonight, they're re-shooting the season finale

Anita: Ah

Marcy: (Holding up a bag of take-out) I was hoping I could make it up to you with a quick Chinese meal

Anita: Crunch, don't you need to get going?

Marcy: (Seductively) I brought Cashew Chicken, Spare Ribs, Beef Lo Mein...

Craig: Beef Lo Main?

Anita: CRAIG

Craig: (Taking his keys and heading for the door) Right, I'll see you on our shift tomorrow, Fiore... have fun - Ms. Nolan

Marcy: Nice to see you again

Craig closes the door behind him as the two women head for the kitchen.

Marcy: (Unpacking the food) I really am sorry about this - we weren't notified of the schedule change until this morning

Anita: (Getting some drinks) What happened?

Marcy: Did you see the latest episode?

Anita: (Grimacing) Just a few moments ago, unfortunately

Marcy: TPTB underestimated the backlash - word leaked out a few weeks ago about the impending death of Twila - the Crunchy Granolas got their Birkenstocks in a bunch and started a massive protest campaign

Anita: (Sitting down at the table) Those have never worked before

Marcy: (Joining her) And it wouldn't have this time EXCEPT Jessie Escobar is backing them and doing her best to tweak the other producers, specifically Doug Martel

Anita: He's not one of my favorite people, that's for sure

Marcy: Because of the fan outrage, the season finale is now a do-over - we're bringing Twila 12.0 back to life... Twila 13.0, I assume - hell, the writers lucked out - she's an android and can be instantly reprogrammed

Anita: Maybe, but the damage has already been done and this cheesy fix is not going to cut it - Rivree has already gone nuts and slaughtered half of the Swamp Resistance

Marcy: Hey, I don't write the show, I just act on it

Anita: Don't you feel any kind of responsibility, especially with your "status?"

Marcy: Just because I'm bi in my personal life doesn't mean it needs to be written into the show - I was all for it as long as they didn't make me the spotlight dyke - I've already been painted by that brush, ten times over, from Jamie - in fact, I made the writers ratchet up my affair with the volcano god just to deflect any kind of suspicion

Anita: Unbelievable

Marcy: Try to put yourself in my shoes, I have a lucrative career to protect - the straights hate bisexuals because they want us to be monogamous and miserable just like them - the gays hate us because they want us to pick sides and be political poster children - I'm sorry, I'm a good actor, not a good activist

Anita: (Under her breath) Craig begs to differ

Marcy: Excuse me?

Anita: Want some more Cashew Chicken?

Marcy: (Taking some) Thanks

The two eat in silence for a minute.

Anita: What truly angers me is that people in general had no problem with the warrior moon prince graphically raping his twin sister and then brutally beheading half of the solar slaves but then objected to a simple kiss between Twi and Riv - that's pathetic in this day and age!

Marcy: I totally agree

Anita: Well, in order for that to change - people need role models, on and off the TV screen - you and your show have the power to do that

Marcy: I was forced into being a role model when I was on "Lessons" - frankly, I'm tired of it - and the show DID do that for a little bit... be grateful for what you got!

Anita: Grateful for scraps? - scraps that get pissed on and thrown in our face? - I don't think so

Marcy: (Mocking smile) More ribs?

Anita: No, thanks

Marcy: Just do what everyone else does... blame it on Mrs. Martel and her old blob of a husband

Anita: How did you ever get involved with this show?

Marcy: After my wilderness years, I sobered up and put out some feelers for a job beyond bad dinner theater - Jessica Goldstein-Escobar was a lowly writer's assistant on Life's Little Lessons but she managed to move on to a stellar screenwriting career

Anita: So, she's the creative genius behind Sig7?

Marcy: Yep, but she needed Martel's money to get it going, she was smart enough to stay directly involved with the show when it spun off from Ancient Space - there was only one thing she had to do... make his wife the star

Anita: Ay, ay ay

Marcy: Ursula literally was the queen of the show, no doubt about it - it was groundbreaking and highly successful at the time - but when she pulled the major vanity stunt of forcing the writers to include her pregnancy into the story, it all but decimated the series

Anita: I remember reading about that - she said she was doing it to prove that pregnant women could be sexy, kick-ass mamas

Marcy: Yeah, it was a noble sentiment EXCEPT it didn't fit the character or the timing - it was all about Ursula and nothing else

Anita: Do I detect a bit of resentment in your voice?

Marcy: Oh, always with that bitch - like she didn't have more than a decade of fertility ahead of her to crack some eggs

Anita: That's really a decision that belongs to her and her husband, no one else

Marcy: Bullshit, when you sign a multi-year contract, you're basically signing a period of your life away and you know it - you can't even get your hair cut without permission

Anita: But she has privileges

Marcy: Of course... and she also has this grand notion that she's going to walk right off of Krakus Prime and straight into an Oscar-winning movie role

Anita: It could happen

Marcy: Don't bet on it - too bad her hubby doesn't have the spine to go against her - rule #1, her character appealed to teenage boys, drag queens, lesbos, and disenfranchised het freaks who hold her up as some kind of ideal - she is, with her beauty, essentially a huge spooge vessel and that's how you play her up to the audience, that's your meal ticket - the last thing any of these groups wanted to see was R'xal the Mommy Machine, especially carrying the old rich raisin Martel's spawn

Anita: Stop it, I'm trying to enjoy my noodles

Marcy: It's all about fantasy in this business and so many people forget that - so, Jess calls me up, says she's writing a character that would be perfect for me

Anita: A half-frog woman?

Marcy: I know, my reaction as well, but I needed the gig and I believed in her brilliance - then, The Timing Fate stepped in - The Rerun Network started airing Life's Little Lessons, and a whole new generation of Jamie fans sprung up - couple these with the first gen ones that will follow me forever, even when I'm making old lady shows, and that was the one-two punch that blasted Bogree and Sig7's ratings through the freaking roof

Anita: (Cracking open her fortune cookie) Cool

Marcy: (Stealing a bit of Anita's cookie) Ursula thought she'd crush my character in a few episodes but with the numbers and Jess backing me up, there was no way she could do it - we're now in the 5th season and look to go another two at least

Anita: (Quizzical look) You want to play a space frog for another two years?

Marcy: We'll see, my contract is up in a few months - do we really want to talk about this anymore? - what does your fortune say?

Anita: (Pretending to read) You will be disappointed by tonight's plans, make the most of it now

Marcy chuckles, checks her watch, and slowly opens her cookie.

Marcy: (Pretending to read) Your hunger will be completely satisfied another time, good things come to those who wait

And with that, she delivers one, soft kiss to Anita and walks confidently out the door.

.

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Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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