Hollywood gets a gritty, no-holds-barred treatment in The CW’s new drama The L.A. Complex.
Debuting Tuesday evening, the Canadian series centers on a group of 20-somethings – led by Degrassi alumna Cassie Steele and Stargate: Atlantis’ Jewel Staite – with ambitious goals of making it big in the competitive entertainment industry and they all happen to have connections to a hoppin’ Los Angeles hotel.
As creator Martin Gero tells The Hollywood Reporter, the genesis for the show – which sees its main ensemble deal with the morning after pill, self-mutilation and struggling to land gigs – came from the desire to tell a community story, similar in vein to Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, for the Hollywood set.
“We wanted to give a cross-section of the industry,” Gero said. From the second the first episode airs, it’s clear the characters’ struggles are dramatic and, oftentimes, life-changing.
Because The L.A. Complex features a slew of characters in each episode, THR breaks down just who these guys and girls are – and why they’re sticking around Hollywood.
[Warning: Some spoilers ahead.]
The Successful Actor:
Connor Lake (played by Aussie actor Jonathan Patrick Moore) is one of the lucky ones. For him, fame happened quickly – perhaps too fast. “He hasn’t really done anything, he hasn’t done a guest spot on a show and books this lead [on a medical drama], which is incredible,” Moore told THR. As the playboy (and viewers) quickly discover, being No. 1 on the call sheet isn’t all fun and games. “It brings with it a lot of pressures and stresses he’s not used to dealing with and the fact that he’s deeply insecure about himself and he has a messy family life, he’s not comfortable with himself to navigate through these stressful environments,” he explained. So much so that by episode 3, how Connor deals with the stress will be revealed – and it may spiral out of control by episode 6.
The Struggling Actress:
After starring in a hugely popular TV show, Teenage Wasteland, Raquel Westbrook (played by Staite) finds herself unable to book even the smallest of parts. She’s “sort of at her wit’s end,” Staite tells THR. “Since she’s had success before and she knows what it tastes and feels like, she wants it back so badly. She’s in a desperate state of mind, she’s willing to do and say pretty much anything to get to where she wants to be.” Early on, Raquel – who also has a “friends with benefits” thing going on with Connor – persuades two neighbors to allow her to play the lead role (and not another A-list actress) for their unproduced movie – and things start to get complicated when other players come into the mix.
The Hot Young Thing:
Abby Vargas (played by Steele) has what could be the most dramatic introduction out of all the characters, when a landlord smashes the back window of her raggedy-old car. “What fuels Abby are her dreams; they affect her. Everything she’s feeling and everything we see from her emotionally is all dictated by her dreams, by her job,” Steele tells THR. “That’s what drives her. I think in this industry, you really have that end goal. There aren’t certain steps you have to take, lot of people have different ways of getting there.” Though she seems to be on the rise, unlike Raquel for instance, Abby deals with a multitude of problems, one that includes her lack of finances.
The Hip-Hop Star:
Kaldrick King (played by Andra Fuller) may be tough on the outside, but as is uncovered during the season, the music megastar is holding “a sacred secret,” Fuller tells THR. From Oakland, Calif. and “raised by the streets,” Kaldrick is the way he is because of what he’s keeping inside. “He talks about packing guns, hitting streets and beating people up. That’s real. ‘If you don’t believe me, get in my face and I’ll show you it’s real,’ ” Fuller said of his alter-ego’s persona. “On the other end, he’s rapping about being with all these women and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.” Somehow he finds solace in an unsuspecting person, but will it end pretty?
The Music Intern:
How do you stand out from the rest? Go against the grain – even if that means breaking the rules, as music intern Tariq Muhammad (played by Benjamin Charles Watson) does at a hotshot label. Friends with Abby, he has a secret himself that – if discovered – could ruin lives and careers.
The Geeky Comedian Wannabe:
Secretly in love with Abby, Nick Wagner (played by Joe Dinicol) wears his thick-rimmed glasses proudly. The antithesis to Connor, Nick has girl problems like no other and his nonexistent comedy career is floundering like a dead fish. Could appearances by some well-known comedians help Nick’s “career” get off the ground?
The Naïve Dancer:
Think of Alicia Lowe (played by Chelan Simmons) like the dance-version of Raquel. After auditioning left and right, things aren’t looking up. With her patience wearing thin, Alicia takes a leap of faith when she opts to do something her friends have hesitations about. How this may affect her dance career will remain to be seen.
Will you check out The L.A. Complex when it debuts in the U.S.?
The L.A. Complex airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.