Pat Clark: ‘Mixology’ isn’t pretty, but it’s funny

03/20/2014 12:00 AM

03/20/2014 11:05 AM

Are you watching former Modestan Ginger Gonzaga’s new ABC comedy, “Mixology”?

There could be a couple of reasons why you’re not: First, the show has gotten decidedly mixed (ha!) reviews, some of the negatives calling it misogynistic and offensive; second, Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland recently wrote about some less-than-glowing comments Gonzaga made about her hometown.

I have a friend who said she wouldn’t watch, based solely on those latter comments. And, I’ll admit, I toyed with the same.

But I’m the entertainment editor and resident TV addict for the actress’s hometown newspaper. It wouldn’t be prudent to ignore her national exposure.

So, whether you’re watching – or stopped watching – “Mixology,” I am. And I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there: I think the show’s darn funny and clever.

Politically correct? Oh, hardly ever. Close to the truth about the singles bar scene? Almost completely.

Heck, I haven’t stepped into a singles bar in decades, but the jokes and banter – or the true intentions of most patrons – haven’t changed a bit over the years.

The show’s premise is to tell the story of 10 people over the course of one night in a swank club. Each week, a different would-be couple are highlighted.

If you ever went clubbing in your 20s, you know most of the people were there for one of two reasons: to hook up for the night or to find that someone special who actually would call their phone number scrawled on a cocktail napkin.

Hookups happened a lot. Follow-up phone calls were more rare – although I was there when one of my best friends met her future husband, so finding Mr. or Mrs. Right is possible.

But the negative feedback about the show’s tone being degrading or insulting makes me laugh almost as much as the show does. That’s how vodka-swilling people joke in singles bars, folks. This is nothing new, it’s just realistic. It happened back in the 1980s. It happens now. If you want fantasy, watch “Grimm.”

Gonzaga’s character, Maya, was the first episode’s co-subject. She plays a no-nonsense lawyer who is almost disgusted to have been charmed by a just-dumped goody-goody who somehow gets the courage to talk to her.

Which brings us back to her comments about Modesto. As Marijke wrote, “an online podcast Gonzaga recently did ... came to light in which she shared some unflattering memories about her hometown. To put it simply, she calls Modesto ‘the worst.’ ”

Ouch.

But, really, haven’t we heard it before? Haven’t some of us even said it? If you grew up in Modesto, you almost certainly spent many a high school Saturday night bemoaning how there was nothing to do here. You might have been planning on getting out of town as soon as you graduated. Some did, some – for a variety of reasons – didn’t.

Some realized it’s not such a bad place. Some got jobs that kept them here. Some wanted to remain close to family. Some just stayed for no better reason than inertia.

Heck, I know people who smack-talk Modesto and they still live here.

And it’s not like any of our other Hollywood success stories are all roses and light about their former hometown. Most people who moved on remember the city as it was for them: a place that they wanted to leave. That doesn’t make them bad people. It doesn’t mean they don’t love family members who still live here. It’s just their last memory of the city and it’s what’s stuck.

Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner once explained that Modesto simply couldn’t give him what he wanted – a career in acting.

And it’s good thing he – and Timothy Olyphant, George Lucas, Jeremy Stolle, Dot-Marie Jones and, yes, Ginger Gonzaga – left, isn’t it? They’ve achieved successes that can make those of us back home proud because our community created these talents. We can celebrate them even if their recollections aren’t great. How do we know what their personal experiences here were, anyway?

But some do still celebrate Modesto: Renner has returned for several community events; Broadway actor Stolle performs for local theater companies; “Glee” actress Jones returns for charity events; even Lucas, albeit grudgingly, was grand marshal at last year’s Graffiti parade. Robert Ulrich, an Emmy Award-winning casting director, and his Ripon-born actress wife, Kim Ulrich, often return for a variety of shows and events.

Many will scoff at celebrating anyone who speaks negatively about the place they call home. We all react differently to what people say – and how we react is neither right nor wrong. It’s simply our opinion. Just like Gonzaga’s opinion about Modesto.

I’m rooting for “Mixology” because it makes me laugh. And, yes, I’m rooting for Gonzaga, too.

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