The Dirt on 'Dirt'

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I watched the first three episodes of Dirt this weekend. It's the Courteney Cox show coming to FX Jan. 2.

Cox, who co-executive-produces the show through Coquette, the production company she runs with husband David Arquette, stars as Lucy Spiller (read: Bonnie Fuller), the editrix of two celebrity glossies, Drrt and Now (facing poor ad sales and pressure from her publisher, she later combines them into one - Drrt Now).

While FX shows are well-made and slick, their racy sensibilities are not my own, so I don't watch them. I figured I'd try this one, though, since i loved Friends, and by association Courteney Cox, and I read the tabloids. (Side note - the most annoying part of the whole screener DVD: In the cast interview extras at the end, they ask the unrecognizable yet apparently already entitled actors whether they read the tabloids, and they all demur that they only cave and pick them up when trapped in line at the supermarket because really? anyone who actually reads those things is just pathetic. and who really cares about celebrities anyway? Right. like they're not all in the show in the first place in the hopes of squeezing their way onto the pages of the rags they all profess to so scorn.)

Anyway, sorry FX, but I have a feeling the show won't stick with the female viewers who read those glossies in the first place. First off, I think some subset of viewers will be put off seeing lovably obsessive Monica recast as a neurotic minus the charm. None of the characters, save for maybe the wide-eyed, eager to impress junior reporter, really garnered much of my sympathy, and perhaps that's the point. If so, it's just not the kind of television I care to watch at the end of the day.

The self-absorbed, back-stabbing, drug-addled lot of them make a good case against glorifying celebrity and fame, but they're not fun to watch. The show actually goes to great length to show all the grit and hard work that goes into making tabloid magazines - and that's interesting. And it's semi-fun to note whatever real life situations inspired certain storylines (the mega-star actress character is named "Julia Mallory," which rolls off the tongue similarly to Cox's on- and off-screen friend, Jennifer Aniston; one episode focuses not on the real-life "Brangelina" but on "Blogan," the fictional manipulative celebrity couple of Blair and Logan).

But the fun stops there, and so too my interest in watching the show. For my time, I'd rather actually be reading the tabloids or watching Ugly Betty, which takes down its magazine sausage makers with humor, rather than arsenic.

While after producing three marquee shows with white, male leads, John Landgraf and FX should be commended for mandating that Dirt's lead be female (the show originally hadn't centered on Spiller but on her schizophrenic paparazzo sidekick), but I just don't think she's one of the females I will want to watch.

By Anne Becker

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