I confess. I can be kind of obsessive-compulsive, especially when something bothers me. And the CW show "LA Complex" bothers me. Not only is it a poorly written, ridiculous show (the second episode starts with two day b-roll shots and then cuts to a jam-packed, bumping strip club) but it's target demo seems to be people who fantasize about chasing their dreams in Los Angeles and this show sends every wrong message possible. So to clear up the damage that this show might have done, here's a quick list of advice on how not to be as stupid as the people on "LA Complex".
Be Able to Hold a Job
Near the end of the pilotAbby, a wannabe singer/actor, opens the show trying to make an audition, hoping to land her dream part, but near the end of the episode, after she whines about being broke, she confesses that she is an illegal alien and can't get a job in LA.
Needless to say, this probably isn't a good idea. But beyond the obvious, don't move somewhere you can't afford to live when you can't get a paying job there, the other key to making out here is having other skills besides your dream job. Don't just think, "Oh, I'll just be a bartender" because those jobs are some of the toughest to get, especially if you don't know anybody. (And if you're a guy, it's damn near impossible since so many places go with all-girl staffs behind the bar.)
Me? I worked as a temp and filed receipts for a casting agent and stuffed packages of glitter for House of Blues, amongst other amazing tasks. (Although, temping might not be as easy to get anymore given the rise in unemployment.) The bottom line is that you need to save up some money (ideally enough so you could survive with an unpaid internship or underpaid job or a year or so) and hit the ground hustling. You come to LA to chase the dream but you don't stay in LA unless you face reality.
It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
In the pilot (and these will all come from the pilot, I couldn't get past the first act of ep. 2), the aforementioned Abby and her best friend Tariq both complain about the fact that they had been in Los Angeles a whole NINE MONTHS! and not been able to get their shot at fame. Realize this - it might take you longer than nine months to get a job in a mailroom, where you'll probably languish for at least a year. If your plan is to come to Hollywood for a year and see if you can't make it big in that time, you're honestly better off not even wasting your time. Yes, some people get discovered overnight but those are the rarest of cases. In fact, many "overnight successes" that you hear about actually were people who worked in obscurity for years. For instance, bands are called overnight successes when their major label debut albums do well but those bands were also probably playing shitty clubs for years to finally get the chance to finally get a big label to sign them.
And the wait isn't just about some Hollywood hazing ritual (although working in an agency certainly sounds like that). Most people when they first come here need to learn about the business, hone their craft, make some mistakes to learn from. It's great to have confidence but if you're going to come to LA, you have to realize that there are a million people as good as you and with confidence just as high as you so it's going to take more than a minute to get noticed.
Use Your Connections Well
In the pilot, Tariq, a wannabe music producer, is hoping to get his beats heard by the producer he interns for but can't seem to get it done. Although, earlier in the show, one of Tariq's friends thanks him for getting him backstage at a concert. Nice move for a buddy but a bad move career-wise. If you're trying to make it, you should save your industry ins. This was the part about Hollywood that I still struggle with. I hate the game. I hate keeping in contact with people just to stay in touch and not because I'm genuinely friends with them. But the bottom line is that that's how the game is played. That doesn't mean go become a two-faced bastard but you should put yourself out there, stay in contact with people, and (if you do get someone on your good side who has some ins) don't waste your favor on getting a friend something that he doesn't really need. While talent is nice and hustle is admirable, Hollywood is all about connections. There's nothing wrong with keeping the lines of communication open with people, even if you're not going to be best friends. Most everyone is here for the same thing - we all get the game. (But, trust me, it can be harder to really commit to this. I still fall out of contact with people all the time and am lousy at playing the game.)
Save Your Money
In yet another ridiculous moment in the pilot, the success story of the group, an actor who named Connor who just landed a pilot, says that he's moving into a big mansion and that his manager said it was a wise investment. First off, buying even a small home in Los Angeles is going to set you back a cool million and there's no guarantee that you'll have that kind of money coming in for a long time, especially if all you got cast in was a pilot. If that show doesn't get picked up, your mortgage probably won't be getting paid. You HAVE to be smart with your money. If that means not having the nicest car or staying in the nicest part of town, so be it. This town is full of people who get their big break, spend their cash, and then find out that their break was shortlived. Again, it's a marathon, not a sprint. If you can afford a house, god bless but odds are that that's going to take a helluva lot than just one pilot.
Face the Facts
The wannabe comedian of the group, Nick, has a disastrous set at a young comic's night. And I don't mean that he had good material and flubbed it, I mean his jokes were horrendous. They didn't even make sense. Nick sees this failure and decides to work even harder! He furiously write down more jokes. Honestly, he probably should just listen to the advice Paul F. Tompkins gives him in the pilot and quit. Or, at least, try to find a real job that can help him try to moonlight as a comic. Its' tough to finally say that your dream might not come true but you have to be honest with yourself. You don't want to end up, 20 years down the line, still slumming it but with no savings, career, etc. to fall back on. It doesn't mean you have to give up completely but if you're THAT bad, you should probably starting setting plan B in motion.
Watch Your Back... and Your Front
There are cons all over LA, trying to take advantage of all of the new dreamers that move here every day. So you have to really keep an eye out and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But more specifically to LA Complex, there's a scene in which the one time big actress Raquel who has fallen on hard financial times and no employment, tells two guys who live in her building that she'll take their script to people all around town and pitch it but she wants to be the lead. The guys flip that someone in the biz wants to champion their script and say OK. A great story right?
Maybe. Maybe not. Because what you have to realize is that, with so many projects and scripts floating around town, people aren't often going to listen to the same pitch twice, especially from nobodies. So when Raquel is taking this around town, this might be your one shot. If these guys love her for the role and think she's a stand up person, great. But in the show, we also see that Raquel has a bit of an attitude, doesn't seem to get along great with former employees, and basically, might not be the best representative for your script, let alone the person that you want to be tied to as your lead actress.
Again, you just have to look out for yourself. This is a town full of people trying to make it themselves so you always have to make sure that you aren't relying on someone else to look out for your best interests because, more often than not, their focus is going to be on their well being.
So those are a few pieces of advice for people living out here in LA. Oh, and one last piece of advice, don't waste your time watching L.A. Complex.