Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hidden Palms: Desperate Houseteens

Complete the following analogy.
Muppet Babies : The Muppet Show : : Hidden Palms : ______
A) Muppets Tonight
C) Desperate Housewives
D) The Venture Brothers

Time's up--put down your pencils. The correct answer was C, Desperate Housewives. Yes, Hidden Palms is like a baby version of Desperate Housewives, right down to the mysterious death kicking off the season. You've got your unrealistically sexy cast, your secretive (and possibly criminal) neighbors, your idyllic suburban setting, and your mystery lurking underneath the surface.

Our protagonist is Johnny, a high school student whose slutty mom caused his drunken dad to shoot himself a year ago (right in front of Johnny, natch), which in turn caused poor little Johnny to mess up his hair, start taking voyeuristic pictures, self-medicate, and end up in rehab. Sober for three months now, Johnny's moving to Palm Springs with his mom and new step-dad. And he makes new friends quickly: first with Cliff, his ambiguously gay, unambiguously hot, but clearly evil puppy-kicking neighbor; then with Greta, an "enigmatic" (read: alluringly crazy) hottie. (See a hot pattern here?) Cliff and Greta were both close to Eddie, who used to live in Johnny's house...and they appear to share a secret about Eddie's sudden death.

The cast is rounded out by a bunch of catty middle-aged women, a couple of other cute neighborhood gals (one a brilliant tomboy, one the mayor's friendly daughter), and a formerly alcoholic drag queen played by the supremely awesome Leslie Jordan. The show repeatedly refers to the fact that Palm Springs is populated by old people and that these numerous high schoolers and botox queens are the exception, but it appears Cliff killed all the old people off, or something, because we hardly see any of them.

So yeah, Hidden Palms is basically a low-rent CW/Kevin Williamson version of Desperate Housewives, with less likeable characters, worse dialogue, and far, FAR less tongue-in-cheek sensibility. And also less sex so far. Yikes.