Written by Caballero Oscuro
Courteney Cox appears to be the first Friends alum to strike gold in TV land again. As the driven, ruthless tabloid editor Lucy Spiller, Cox has a juicy role that allows her to stretch her dramatic chops, a refreshing change of pace from her fluffy sitcom days. Dirt also has a backup scene stealer with its functional schizophrenic paparazzi, Don Konkey (Ian Hart). These two instantly memorable characters contribute to an original, highly entertaining show that exposes the world of celebrities as well as the people who report on them.
As Spiller, Cox initially helms two celebrity magazines: one a respectable celebrity magazine similar to People, and the other a sleazy celebrity tabloid dedicated to digging up the juiciest smut about the stars. After a downsizing mandate forces her to merge the titles into one magazine, she sets out to revolutionize celebrity journalism by putting the sleaze and the class in one title. Her go-to guy for dirt is the deranged Konkey, a barely functional individual who always manages to get the best scoop no matter what it takes, including cutting off his own finger to get into a locked-down hospital housing a celebrity guest.
The relationship between the cold, calculating Spiller and bent, highly unstable Konkey lends the show some mystery in its opening stages due to the unlikely nature of their pairing. It’s baffling how someone as controlling as Spiller could befriend the completely out-of-control Konkey, but the revelation that they share a common past begins to explain their reliance on each other.
When the show isn’t focusing on Spiller and Konkey, it follows fictional celebrities who have been affected by their actions. Spiller isn’t above blackmail, but can also wield her power to help stars by featuring complimentary articles in her magazine in addition to insightful career advice. This allows her to play celebrities against each other with all benefit flowing back to her and the magazine.
While shows about Hollywood aren’t always interesting to people outside the industry, Dirt keeps stories fresh with its shift of focus between messed-up celebrities and the equally damaged people who follow them. The show sticks to a dramatic style at all times rather than going over the top with its juicy subject matter like Ugly Betty. It’s a decidedly risqué series, especially for something that airs on non-premium cable, but viewers used to HBO and Showtime series will be right at home with its sexually charged plotlines. There are also quirky effects thrown in to visualize Konkey’s mental disorder, portraying his world as something akin to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. There’s plenty here to hold viewer interest and keep them coming back for more, making it no surprise that Season 2 is on the way.
The Season 1 DVD box set includes bonus features highlighted by Cox and David Arquette discussing the creation of the show, a profile of the show’s resident schizophrenic photographer, a discussion by real tabloid editors and assorted media experts and actors about the cult of celebrity and the legitimacy of the show’s take on it, as well as the requisite deleted scenes and outtakes.