Quasi-GothWatch: Jade West

Elizabeth Gillies as ‘Jade West’ in “Victorious”Still on a “tween sitcom” kick, I made the mistake of checking out an episode of Victorious on TV yesterday morning. For those who don’t know, this unit-shiftin’ Nickelodeon show stars Victoria Justice as an aspiring singer named ‘Tori Vega’, who wins a place at an elite performing arts academy after subbing for her older sister ‘Trina’ (Daniella Monet) during a talent showcase. She makes new friends, gets into wacky scrapes, sings songs, spawns merchandise, blah, blah, blah, fishcakes.

Obviously it isn’t fair to judge an entire series based on a single random episode, but where’s the fun in having a blog if you can’t type up ill-informed, knee-jerk critiques and then publish them for everyone to see? Ep #1.4 opens with the rather irritable and obnoxious Tori ordering her “friends” to give her ideas for her sister’s “birthweek present” (yes, she’s so spoiled her family gives her an entire week to celebrate her birth!), but their suggestions are all kinda stupid, so she ends up ignoring them and buying a fancy pair of designer boots instead. But wouldn’t you know it, as soon as Tori reveals the gift to her friend Andre (Leon Thomas III), Trina enters the room rocking the exact same pair of boots! Crisis! Andre helpfully suggests that Tori could write a song for her sister, but she whines on about how hard that would be, so he ends up doing all the heavy lifting for her. The evening of the party arrives, and Tori performs “her” song (complete with backing band and dancers), for her overacting sister, while the studio audience goes ape-shit. Trina is suitably flattered, but as soon as the song ends, she politely enquires where her real present is… ‘cuz apparently a gift doesn’t count unless you spend money on it (although that suggests that the band and dancers were working for free… which seems unlikely, but whatever). Outraged, Tori orders all of the party guests (including her own parents) out of the house, into the pouring rain, so that she can argue with her selfish sibling. Um… ‘kay. Am I really supposed to be sympathising with either of these two girls? They’re both total monsters! The whole plot kinda unravels from there, and I really can’t be bothered summarising it… suffice to say, Tori never displays a single likeable characteristic, and Andre gets screwed out of the rights to his own composition (which is sold on to Beyonce by a conniving record producer, presumably for big bucks)! There was a whole other subplot about a geeky ventriloquist kid trying to help his grandma use the internet, but that was just too painful for words!

Elizabeth Gillies as ‘Jade West’ in “Victorious”Despite all of the bile this show brought spewing into my brain, there was one character who stood-out as an unqualified success… a black rainbow of acerbic awesomeness, named ‘Jade West’ (Elizabeth Gillies). As soon as she tricked Tori into drinking a coffee she’d found in the garbage, just for the hell of it, I knew Jade was the real heroine of the piece! Curiously, despite displaying all of the usual attributes associated with the Goth Chick archetype (including a surly, sarcastic demeanour, a macabre sense of humour, and a weird obsession with scissors), she’s apparently been pitched as the school’s resident “mean girl”… not quite the “Queen Bee”, as such, but still a popular and influential student, who seems to hold a higher rank than Tori in the social hierarchy. Which is a pretty interesting angle, I think, and one you could probably only get away with on a show about a performing arts school! I think Gillies played the role brilliantly, eliciting more laughs with her deadpan one-liners than the rest of the combined cast could conjure up with their corny pantomime bullshit. Shame she isn’t on a show that actually deserves her, because I doubt I could bring myself to sit through a second episode of this dross… I guess I should be grateful that she recorded a few meagre YouTube monologues, for those of us who dig the character, but hate everything else about the show…

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About deecrowseer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action.
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