What kind of people decide to bring up children in Palm Springs anyway? As the resident satanic charmer explains to the newcomer in town, “It’s all retired grays, gays and streets named after dead people,” he says. “People come here to die.” – some lame NYTimes critic (Gee, what kind of people decide to bring up children in New York City anyways?)
Hidden Palms: a shill for the wind power industry?
When “The O.C.” first premiered back in 2003, my friends from Orange County couldn’t wait to rip it apart for its ridiculous portrayal of life in their hometowns. Who the hell calls it “the OC” anyways?
Well, now it’s my turn. A new teen drama has hit the airwaves, this time set in Palm Springs, California, the lovely resort area where I was born and raised. It premiered Wednesday night on the CW (you know, that network you never watch that was a merger of UPN and the WB, those two other networks you never watched?)
The show revolves around Johnny, a young fellow clad in preppy attire who lives in depressing as hell rainy Seattle. While Johnny is trying to study trigonometry, his drunk father rambles on about poetry and numbers and then proceeds to blow his brains out right in front of the poor kid. Johnny spends some time in alcohol and drag rehab and one year later finds himself moving to Palm Springs with his recently remarried mom and seemingly harmless stepfather (although Johnny dislikes aforementioned stepfather because his mom was having an affair with the dude which partially led to Johnny’s dad’s suicide, natch).
Johnny still seems rather depressed, or maybe he’s just a typical, brooding teenager with a penchant for always carrying his camera everywhere (a “creative outlet”, he claims). Look Johnny, you got a huge new house! And a pool! You live on a golf course! Your stepfather has a Mercedes! Palm trees everywhere! Sunshine! Your mom has amazing interior decorating skills! It’s 115 effin’ degrees! Welcome to Palm Springs, man!
From there, the show devolves into typical melodramatic teenage BS that is too painful to describe. It’s like “The O.C.”, but without a beach.
A few things in the show that make say WTF?:
- The characters constantly complain about the blazing summer heat (“it drives people crazy”), yet continue to wear jackets and multiple layers of clothing. HELLO?! You are not in Seattle anymore! Ditch the army surplus jacket, long sleeved shirts, and sweaters!
- Cliff, the first local kid who Johnny meets, is the epitome of (l)east coast prep. With his pink Ralph Lauren polo shirts (and oxford shirt worn over polo shirt – WTF?), popped collars, and boat shoes, the dude looks like he just stepped off a sailboat in the Hamptons. No flip flops? No Quicksilver or Hurley t-shirts? Does this show take place in Connecticut or Palm Springs?
- The men at the country club party are wearing suit jackets! In the summer! You rarely see men in Palm Springs wearing suit jackets, much less in the middle of the summer. WTF is wrong with these people?!
- The show takes place in Palm Springs, but any desert native can recognize that Johnny actually lives in the rich enclave of Indian Wells. Palm Springs is old and busted. Go to the east end of the valley, young man. Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage are the new hotness.
- Johnny does not have a driver’s license and thus must ride a bike everywhere. I am especially impressed that Johnny managed to bike the 15 miles from Indian Wells to downtown Palm Springs in the 115 degree heat.
- We’re supposed to believe the mayor’s daughter works as a waitress at the country club pool? Yeah, right.
- None of the characters appear in a Starbucks, the epicenter of teenage life in the Coachella Valley. And no iceblocking? Come on, it’s the summer and you live on a well-manicured golf course. WTF else are you supposed to do? (Ice blocking, for you newbs out there, is when you head to the local 7-11, purchase several large blocks of ice, find yourself some nice grassy hills aka golf course, sit on said block of ice, and race your friends down to the bottom. In other words, the perfect night time summer activity).
- A main character lying down on a golf course and crying? Jesus, D-R-A-M-A. And she wasn’t even crying over a horrible drive on a par-4…she was just…crying…in the middle of the golf course.
A few things the show gets right:
- “It’s all retired grays, gays and streets named after dead people.” True. I can’t really tell you what Dinah Shore, Buddy Rogers, and Fred Waring did, but they were famous, are now dead, and have streets named after them. I do know who Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra are, though, so I am not completely ignorant (Frank Sinatra was a singer, right?!).
- It is truly a bizarre place to grow up. Did you run around a lot of golf courses when you were a kid? We did. They were everywhere. I was particularly fond of the sand traps. They were like giant sand boxes. The groundskeepers at the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas were not so fond of us, however, especially when we would steal balls from the driving range and ride our bikes down their really step hills screaming at the top of our lungs. Ah, those were the days.
The show didn’t garner very positive reviews or pull in large viewership numbers, so it’s doubtful that it will emerge as the hot new summer show. I have it set to tivo, but am not sure how long I will be able to watch it. For one thing, it sucks. And secondly, while the show’s pilot was filmed in Palm Springs and Indian Wells, the rest of the episodes were filmed in Arizona because it was cheaper. Apparently all desert communities are interchangeable. A show about Palm Springs but filmed in Arizona? That’s almost too easy to mock.