Talking "Dirt" with Courteney Cox - VIDEO
With the season two premiere of FX's Dirt just around the corner (this coming Sunday, March 2nd, at 10:00PM), you may have noticed that the ad campaign is in full effect. The image to the right has been adorning everything from billboards in Times Square to magazine pages.
For those that weren't familiar with season one, you might have thought that this was an entirely new show altogether. If you recall the ad campaign for season one, at first glance the show looked much more darker, and it was. The ads depicted Courtney Cox (as ruthless tabloid editor Lucy Spiller) pale faced, in a blood red dress, overlooking Hollywood -- the breeding ground for her next headline. Not the case this season as you can see by the much more jovial, comic book feel of the new ads. As much as I loved the first season, it was nothing that I expected it to be. Trust me when I say that season two very quickly makes up for that deception.
I've now had the chance to screen the first two episodes and even got the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with Cox last week. Read on for my thoughts on season two, some quotes from the mouth of the woman who plays Lucy Spiller, and a sneak peek of the premiere episode. Be warned though -- this does contain spoilers.
For those that recall the pilot, you might remember the opening. Lucy was at some A-List celebrity event and as she walked around and made eye contact with numerous celebs, her mind began to generate headlines and magazine covers for each person. Bulimic! Pregnant again! Gay? It was corny, tabloid-y fun. Then it stopped and the show took on a fairly serious tone -- blackmail, hostage situations, and the destruction of lives. It culminated in the attempted murder of Lucy in the finale.
That isn't to say that Lucy is any less conniving this season. However, during the conference call, Cox was quick to point out that, "it's much lighter this year and it's funnier." She went on to say that, "this year we just want it to be a little more of a broader appeal." The tabloid feel that was originally intended comes to fruition this season and you'll immediately notice the change.
The season picks up right after Julia Mallory's attempt on Lucy's life. She's convalescing in a hospital and still has time to shoot down bad ideas for the upcoming issue of Dirt Now. No real change in character there, other than what Cox calls "a different outlook on life." The most obvious difference is that while she's just as abrasive as ever with her staff, her one-on-one interactions with employees (such as Alexandra Breckenridge's Willa) are far more pleasant. Cox attributes this change to Lucy's realization that she has a great job: "I think she's a little more daring in ways, but for a better reason. Just a more fun outlook as opposed to... some personal vendetta against people." Getting stabbed and almost dying will do that to you I suppose.
One of the biggest concerns coming into this season was the writer's strike. Only seven episodes were completed (13 were ordered) and even though the strike has been resolved, FX made the call to air the seven as is and then make decisions on a season three renewal. The obvious question was how does the season end? Will there be any sort of cliffhanger?
To that, Cox responded: "Well, we didn't know that we were going to not finish, but the strike kind of changed all of that. So luckily, what works in our favor this year, which would not have worked last year at all, is that each episode is self-contained. Even though there may be a character that goes over a few episodes you can watch each one and feel like you've wrapped up a story. So luckily, episode seven, which is the one that we finished on, if you didn't know it wasn't, no one's getting stabbed, but it's still an exciting episode. I mean, do we have bigger plans? Sure, but does it work? Yes."
Other changes readily noticeable this season include:
Don is taking medication (no more talking kittens)
Willa is far savvier when it comes to her job
Holt's star is rising faster than he expected
There are some new faces around the Dirt Now offices
Lucy has a new assistant named... Kenny. Again. Look for some hilarious scenes between Cox and Kevin Wheatley, who plays the new Kenny. (If you can't remember what happened to old Kenny, read this.)
Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the tone of the new season. Not to say that it requires less thinking, but it's far easier to digest thanks to the break from the serial format and the acceptance of the weekly procedural (ahem, "celebri-cedural") format.
For fans of the supermarket tabloids that may have been turned off by the dark themes of last season, go ahead and take another look because the show takes plenty of shots at some fairly prominent celeb headlines that you'll recognize in an instant. Cox made it a point to clear up any discrepancies about their depictions of celebrities though: "We don't ever intend to hurt anyone." Fortunately, that's half the fun because the effort to avoid that fine line results in humanizing some of these characters to the point where you feel bad and laugh at them in the same breath. Definitely something we can all relate to.
As I mentioned before, Dirt's second season returns to FX this Sunday, March 2nd, at 10:00PM. In the meantime, check out this exclusive preview clip featuring Willa (Alexandra Breckenridge) in action with new Dirt Now recruit Farber Kauffman (Ryan Eggold).