Back in March, I referred to The L.A. Complex as "Your Next TV Obsession" since I was instantly smitten with the snarky dialogue, hypnotic performances and the filter-free approach creator Martin Gero took towards life in Los Angeles.
But what I could not have anticipated was what a thoughtful, layered and powerful character piece The L.A. Complex would evolve into over the subsequent 16 episodes. Realism continually trumped sensationalism as the character's dealt with self-loathing, self-obsession and self-sabotage in such a painfully human way, it made you love them for their faults, not in spite of them.
In anticipation of tonight's two-hour season finale (I will not refer to it as a potential series finale as I believe The CW sees what I see), I caught up with creator Martin Gero to talk about the twists characters take, the turns you won't see coming and what a potential season three could look like!
TheInsider.com: Big season finale tonight, which I know you just finished working on. What are you excited for the fans to see?
Martin Gero: I think the last 8 minutes of the show are the best thing we've ever done -- the cast all deliver some amazing performances. It's incredibly emotional. The end of act 5 for any other episode would be a great place for any other show to end, but we have a whole other act after that, which is extraordinarily exciting.
Insider.com: I also love that you never give the characters a moment to reboot. Kaldrick finally makes amends with Tariq and immediately finds out his father is in a coma!
Martin: [laughs] My friend, who is also a writer, always says that his stomach turns whenever something good happens for a character because he knows it's just a set up for something more terrible to happen. Last year we only did six episodes and I really liked the pace of those episodes, so when we developed the show for this season, we treated it almost as two seasons. A lot of stories came to a boil in episodes 6, 7 and 8 – and we then had whole new stories for the back half. Kaldrick's is really the only story that runs over all 13 episodes because we had to spend the first half of the season redeeming the character for what a terrible thing he did to Tariq. The final two episodes are some of the most terrific work Andra [Fuller] has ever done.
Insider.com: I completely agree with your friend. For example, every time Kaldrick kisses a man, I wait for the reveal that someone caught it on tape. Is the forced outing of Kaldrick something fans might eventually see?
Martin: All I will say is stay tuned.
Insider.com: Fair enough, turning to Raquel, my favorite character, I have to say that her arc this season has been so phenomenal. And I think a lot of that has to do with Jewel Staite making us feel empathy for this potentially unlikeable character.
Martin: We all knew Jewel was great, and I don't think she likes when I say this, but I think Raquel is closer to Jewel than any other character she's played. She's had fun opening up and showing all the colors she can do – giving that Kaylee sweetness when she needs to, but also playing with that deep seeded masochistic side to her personality. That's why her scenes with Connor are so heart-breaking. They do have a deep connection, but they're such f*cked up people, it makes them exactly wrong for each other.
Insider.com: I also think more than any other character, Raquel is her own worst enemy to such a major degree that I worry for every choice she makes.
Martin: For sure. Raquel is a fan of short cuts but I don't think there are any good shortcuts, especially in this industry. Thinking she'll only do that [credit card scam] for a little bit to get her film get off the ground might not be the best path. It's a noble pursuit, and thinks only the banks are getting hurt, but she's going to get closer and closer to Mark [her boss] and that complicates things greatly.
Insider.com: As you said, Connor and Raquel do have a great connection, but this back half of the season has paired him with the sister character, who was his conduit to Scienetics. What made that a world you wanted to explore?
Martin: We'd been talking about these kind of personality cults because there are many of them in Los Angeles and I'm just so fascinated by them. They prey on people who are just looking for a kind ear and warm smile in a city that doesn't give those readily. We couldn't initially figure out a way to do it in a way that clicked -- all of our characters would think Scienetics is stupid. But to have somebody as fragile as Connor, who has been desperately searching for any semblance of family, find his sister in such an organization, gave us a great conduit to show what those organizations are truly like since he would give it a noble try just to be with her.
Insider.com: The preview for tonight's episode shows Connor getting arrested. Is that directly linked to the Scienetics storyline?
Martin: Not directly. It's no secret that he burned his house down at the end of last season, and we haven't forgotten about that. It's something we needed to address, but Scienetics plays a part in it.
Insider.com: I'm happy you brought that up because I feel like one of the big things L.A. Complex gets right is showing consequences. A lot of other shows are happy to skip over that part if it doesn't mesh with the story they're trying to tell. But no one ever goes unpunished on your show.
Martin: We're tremendously fortunate that our producers understand that our show is so serialized, it needs to be thought-out well in advance. We had 7 or 8 scripts written before we shot a frame this season. We see it as one giant story, so for us, cause and effect is extraordinarily important. We don't have a murder of the week or weird medical diseases, we only have the actions of our characters to create the drama, so you have to live in a world where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That's why it's important to do the lighter stuff with Nick and Abby as well as the super serious stuff with Connor, Kaldrick and Raquel -- we have to maintain the balance of fun so it's not some huge bummer to watch. We have to earn the darkness, essentially.
Insider.com: I know you just wrapped on season two, but where's your head at in terms of a third?
Martin: We've had some preliminary conversations about what a third season would look like, but we won't know for a few months. I will say that both our Canadian networks and The CW are fans of the show first, so it was not a mistake that there are some pretty juicy cliffhangers put in tonight's episode. Our biggest cliffhangers ever, I would say. Something to try and coax people to the other side because at the end of the day, it comes down to numbers.
Insider.com: Obviously the events of tonight's finale would inform a third season, but what can you tease about potential storylines for next season?
Martin: There are some major twists tonight that I can't talk about, but Connor getting deeper into Scienetics would be one. Raquel makes some decisions in the finale that are going to bring her some big consequences, and there's some great opportunities to tell stories with Kaldrick that I don't think you've ever seen before on TV.
The L.A. Complex airs at 8 p.m. on The CW.