By Dorothy Parvaz
Arizona Daily Wildcat November 7, 1996
If you can't get enough of the meaningless drivel that is television, rejoice, there's more of the same in cyberspace. And it comes with a soundtrack.
The folks from Marinex Multimedia bring you the "East Village," a hipper than-thou daily cyber-soap with a cast of characters such as "Duncan, the ridiculously charming renaissance man from Ireland," and many more like him. A sort of still-life "Melrose Place," the "East Village" (an area near Manhattan) appeals to the trash-lover in its viewers, pandering to the mudslinging (and wrestling) fans with the lesbian tiffs, torrid affairs and faux glamour that no schmaltzy soap would be complete without. Of course, Marinex Multimedia says its target audience is anyone between the ages of 18 and 34. Guess there must be a large contingent of pap-mongers in that age group.
Linked to Times-Warner's Pathfinder, the "East Village" slick homepage offers you snippets of past episode, chat options, character synopses, and of course, the latest episode. Tuesday's ride into soap oblivion is all about Eve. And Sam. And how they'll never be. Tragic. "I'm too neurotic to have a boyfriend like you," says Eve. This is an epiphany for her. I know. I checked the episodes preceding this one. This is the same character that is described as having a "sharp downtown sensibility" because the walls in her apartment as painted bright blue. Oh, so that's what it takes to be sophisticated. Just think of all the people who have been going about that the wrong way.
"East Village" consists of a series of photos pasted along side short paragraphs of narrative, but you can download software to watch them as actual movies, or "micro-dramas," which is comforting to know, because otherwise, their "East Village" would just amount to one awkward modeling assignment for its cast. Real actors. Real drama. Real vacuous.
Curiously, the soap's creator/executive producer Charles Platkin describes it as "smart, moody and edgy. Gritty yet creative." He sees the show as a "90210"/"Slacker" hybrid. How...misguided.
"East Village" head writer Jennifer Shawnborn defended the creative choices she makes by saying that there's a clear dichotomy between what's available on television and what she writes for the cyber-soap.
"You rarely see people of TV that lead these kinds of lives. They're all beautiful and have jobs in various industries. A lot of our characters don't really work. They just scrape by."
Although there is no shortage of beautiful people in "East Village," Shawnborn has a point...these people don't tend to work much beyond a phone-sex job here and there.
The soundtrack has tracks from Spitball, Cardinal Woolsey and Battershell among others, offering grunge-o songs that are definitely ill-suited for the well-quaffed residents of "East Village." It's actually quite good.
The characters, a polished-looking bunch of bed-hoppers, set fire to each others' apartments, and somehow lend themselves to episodes that lead to summaries like "Maria confronted Jean-Claude about his trying to kill her, but he brushed her off." Oh, they try to tackle serious issues (the usual suspects, heroine addiction and HIV, make appearances) but the writers' treatment of these issues is laughably weak. But then again, Shawnborn made it quite clear that the staff of five writers had one goal: to entertain. But here's the thing: why not go the extra mile and produce something substantial?
If there isn't enough stuff floating in cyberspace to suck up all of your time with vampiric gusto, and you feel the need for more, check out the "East Village" at http://www.eastvillage.com.