Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Watch This Now: Brand New Web Series "The Complex"

James just got dumped. In a bad way. But that's not going to stop him from winning back the girl of his dreams. With the help of his crew of oddball friends and neighbors, he's going to tackle every complaint his ex has. But in The Complex, his plans always take an unexpected turn.

So you know how pretty much all of the people have a web series? And how generally, they aren't very good? Either the writing isn't there, the direction isn't competent, the camera work is amateurish and the acting...let's not get started on the acting. This is why whenever I come across a web presence that is actually worth the watch (see: Dorm Life, Husbands), I get excited and do my best to spread the word. Which brings us to this very post on a new web series called The Complex (not to be confused with the also awesome in not even the slightest bit of the same way Canadian primetime soap The LA Complex), created by Bad Bonsai Productions.

Bad Bonsai was formed two years ago by a group of graduates from Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in NYC (part of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts), who had just completed a grad acting program in LA. Not satisfied to idly wait around for auditions, the group formulated The Complex's concept and writer Lauren Smerkanich immediately got to work. It should be noted that Smerkanich has developed a bit of a following in the Los Angeles theater scene since principal photography on The Complex wrapped over a year ago, her play Amongst The Trees named one of LA's top five original plays of 2011 by LAist. Her voice is sharp and hilarious, and though specific, every word sounds incredibly organic coming from this group of actors.  First time director Laryn Stout proves to be a natural by deftly creating a sense of authenticity and care with every frame. Watching the series, you don't find yourself cringing or waiting for the the other shoe to drop. The quality is evident from the get go, and only becomes clearer as the series goes on. In episode three, screened at the premiere party at Meltdown Comics this past weekend,  an instant classic of a character is introduced, played expertly straight faced through the absurdity with full commitment by yes-you-have-in-fact-seen-him-before-in-something actor/writer Jeffrey Addiss.

Every character on The Complex has a quirk of some kind, but as Community and Happy Endings have proven, the straight man in its classic form isn't entirely necessary if the comedy itself is strong enough. Smerkanich's character, appropriately named Lauren, is the closest the show comes to an audience surrogate, but her dry wit and addiction to lolipops to stave off her addiction to nicotine still yield as many laughs as the cooky folk surrounding her, my favorite of which (by episode four at least) is Hannah, played by Bad Bonsai founding member Hannah Miller. She is eager, enthusiastic, and according to shoe's website, loves "babies, giving dating advice, and presents with really large colorful bows." Miller's take is engagingly unique - the closest existing character I could compare her to would be Community's Annie, if Annie were a bit more disconnected from reality. Also keep on eye on on the fantastic Katie French, who plays villainous best friend to Greta (she who dumps James) and foil to James' quest to win her back.

Intrigued? Watch the first two episodes right here! I highly encourage watching both, as the first acts mostly as an introduction, the second establishing the tone for the rest of the series. Keep an eye on thecomplexseries.com every Monday for the next eight weeks for new episodes.


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