by Anna Robertson
There is a limit to the number of flaws that a hero can possess before he or she turns from complex to simply exasperating. Every story needs a protagonist that the audience has some ounce of interest in, and this is exactly what “Ringer” lacks – every character is simply a bad person, and their good qualities are not clearly displayed enough to redeem them. There is no reason why a show about a group of inherently bad individuals can’t work; there are many series that have used this premise brilliantly in the past. No one wants to befriend the characters of the CW hit “Gossip Girl” – the teenagers portrayed on this show are self-centered, over privileged, and under-principled – but the show works as a fun way to fantasize about getting away with being as deliciously vindictive and bratty as couture-wearing Blair Waldorf.
This is what “Ringer” is missing: a sense of fun. Evil is fundamentally complex and interesting, but the characters on “Ringer” manage to be wicked, boring, and painfully stupid all at once. No pleasure can be derived from watching their antics; the average audience member will find frustration, not escape, in their foolishness.
In the first few episodes, Bridget was sympathetic – probably more because Sarah Michelle Gellar’s wide-eyed portrayal made her so pathetic that the audience couldn’t help but feel bad for her than her actually being a well-formed character that audiences could connect to. However, a series of bad decisions without justification, motive, or apparent brain activity has made the audience lose patience with her. Bridget’s background with mob involvement is too hazy and lazily defined for her decision to assume her twin sister’s identity to feel like a logical solution.
She continues to complicate her situation further, with apparent disregard for the repercussions of her actions and unbelievable naiveté. Bridget’s twin sister Siobhan has not proven herself the least bit likable, and moments, such as her discovering an unplanned pregnancy in last week’s episode, that are intended to be emotional fall completely flat because the audience has no reason to care about her. The supporting characters are equally unpleasant, and continue to be written as nothing more than caricatures as the series progresses.
“Ringer” lacks moments of originality – as I watch the show, I have the distinct feeling that I have seen a version of each scene somewhere else. The dialogue is overly simplistic, as if the writers underestimate their audience’s intelligence and ability to understand wit. The visual direction and editing of the show also feel clichéd, seemingly borrowing elements from other overly dramatic television shows in a misguided attempt to add an artistic element to the production. “It’s Gonna Kill Me, But I’ll Do It” also contains a slapstick routine that is positively laughable (complete with an off-time slapping noise), but was intended to be completely serious.
“Ringer” could have been the ultimate guilty pleasure; however, its self-serious attitude removes any chance of pleasure, leaving the viewer with only guilt for wasting another hour of their time.