Welcome to the EC, Bitch!
Written by Bwog Staff
The first off-putting parts of “Exclusion Suite,” the new campus soap opera, are the silences. The opening dialogue aspires to that cute, pause-filled pace that was charmingly offbeat before Aaron Sorkin pounded it into every episode of every show he ever wrote. But the tentative, plucky background music falls out of rhythm with the lines – oh, and the lines are terrible.
This, for example, is the reunion of Natalie (Alex Kudroff) and Brooke (Alice Hu), roommates and best friends, on move-in day:
Natalie: Oh my god! I missed you!
Brooke: It seems like you were doing all right without me. Did you have a drink for me last night?
Natalie: Um, more than one.
Brooke: Aw, you’re the best friend a girl could want.
Perhaps this is a narrowminded attack – no soap opera has great dialogue. Similarly, it seems purposeless to attack a campus production for inane music and poor lighting. And it is necessary to commend “Exclusion Suite” for its one successful moment (and its excellent title). An otherwise infernal flirtation scene between Brooke and Greg (Joe Cummings) is made delightful by its soundtrack: the sappiest of sappy soundtracks and – yes – Natalie vomiting in the bathroom stall next to them:
Brooke: What’s the phrase? Single and ready to mingle? [barf]
Would that all the lines were followed by the sound of someone throwing up – though it is a little too suggestive for the unentertained viewer.
The strongest scene in the show succeeds because it so triumphantly undermines its attempts at sexiness. The episode drags because the other attempts at sexiness are merely undermined by their own unsexiness. When Rob (PJ Berg) gets in a bar fight, the extreme slow motion shot only emphasizes the poor job of faking the punch. And his braggart “welcome to the EC, bitch!” falls flat. When Rob trips over Simon (Michael Galante) and the two end up entangled on the floor, the staging of the fall is more awkward than the girls walking in on them. And then there’s the clothing. Brooke, the feistier of the two female protagonists, appears to be wearing only a shirt and sandals in her first scene, and the effect is more appalling than appealing. Later she dons one of those hats that look like a knit shower cap. Natalie sports a skunk streak in her hair. Two of the three boys (who are incessantly referred to as “the boys) opt for crinkly oxford shirttails protruding beneath sweaters. While Brooke’s wardrobe shoots for sexy and misses, the boys’ never tries. It’s merely Columbia realism. And no soap opera – especially at Columbia – should be realistic.