The Room

I want you to imagine the best soap opera ever made. I just saw the pilot episode, and there’s a good chance HBO are developing it right now. It’s just like every other soap you ever saw but with one special, ground-breaking difference. TV will never be the same again. It’s called, The Room.

Meet Johnny. He’s a serial killer. You know the type: as a miscellaneous europeman in America, the superficial strangeness hides the killer behind the smile. Like his hair, midnight black and slickly leonine, something no native would wear ever, not even on Halloween. Like his indefinable accent, the vowels, just off, the intonation, not quite right. Think Christopher Walken in Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on a VHS recording so worn by overuse that the audio sync fluctuates eerily wherever it wants to. But when that smooth persona is casually slipped off like a slacks and vest combo all you can see are those eyes. You don’t notice his superb, lethally honed, killing-machine physique, nor his uniquely low body fat ratio, so low that when he’s making love to his lovely fiancé you’re reminded of a prize-winning greyhound, fine-grained flanks flexing, as it tenderly humps a cabbage patch kid. No, all you see are those dead, those distant eyes – oh hi Lisa.

Meet Lisa, Johnny’s girl. She’s a serial killer. You know the type: demure blonde by day, passionate lover by night. Black widow come morning. Beautiful, desirable, her inadequate breasts surgically supplemented by Johnny’s presumably limitless wealth, of course she cannot support herself; she needs him to make her more than half a person. Needs him, to pass unrecognised for what she truly is. Her perfect prey, but she needs him. Unless… unless she can find a new lover, a new cover, freeing her to claim Johnny not as husband, but victim. A better man, to support her in Johnny’s place until the terrible boredom rises within her again, driving her to – oh hi Mark.

Meet Mark, he’s Johnny’s best friend. And a serial killer. You know the type: sculpted perfection from head to toe, strokeable tan hair, strokeable tanned skin, radiant blue eyes – radiant blue balls. Fighting to remain loyal to his best friend and forever unable to act on his desires, his absolute impotence fuels a simmering rage, all that hatred welling up within him, waiting to erupt into unspeakable violence. If only he could consummate when Lisa makes her play for him perhaps the horror could be averted; if only his ultimate release, of one kind or another, was not interrupted by a fade-to-black, or a pan-away to later and an awkward moment between would-be lovers in limbo, or by the untimely intrusion of Lisa’s love-lorn neighbour, drawn from his ear at the wall by the sound of – oh hi Denny.

Meet Denny. Actually Denny doesn’t interrupt Mark and Lisa trying to have sex, but this is a convenient moment to mention him. He’s a serial killer. You know the type: though physically he escaped a cycle of abuse at the hands of his childhood uncle, psychologically he still cowers in that closet until it comes his turn; still hears the pathetic excuses of the aunt who defended his tormentor; paradoxically, still longs for the slightest sign of affection from a strong male authority figure. Now all grown up – physically – he is torn by conflicting desires, of giving kisses to Lisa, of watching Johnny sleep, of clumsily crawling between them when he hears the sound of “fighting” in their bedroom, only to find they are at this point still only hitting each other with pillows. How long can he go on like this, how long, before the need to strike back at Uncle Someone, Uncle Anyone, grows too much to bear and the cycle begins anew?

Get the picture? It’s that simple: everyone’s a serial killer. It’s that simple: everyone’s a serial killer. Don’t believe me? Meet Peter. He’s a serial killer. You know the type: bespectacled psychiatrist, nice suit and tie, harmless looking, trust him with your every secret. He’ll be picking you out of his teeth by the third session. That not enough? What about Lisa’s mother, Claudette?

Oh hi.

Meet Claudette. She taught Lisa everything she knows, both about not being able to support herself by conventional means and about murdering wealthy men to secure their inheritances. As she tells Lisa, she hasn’t been happy since she married her first husband, and didn’t even want to marry her second – Lisa’s father. He was awful, that’s why she “divorced” him – but Claudette has problems too. Now property values are rising her brother wants half of her house, but not being married to him she doesn’t know what to do about it. Also, her good friend Annette wants to buy a house, but she doesn’t have enough money, the house and money crises are just becoming overwhelming. All she knows is that Lisa absolutely must marry Johnny, whether she loves him or not – because you’ll get nothing when they’re in the ground if you don’t have no gold on your god-damned finger.

Talk about gold, this is television gold. Would you watch it? Of course you would, serial killers and serial killers, circling each other, serial killers. But I know what you’re thinking – they can’t all be serial killers, can they? What about Mike and Michelle? He’s a fucking ditz and she’s got a big mouth, they can’t be serial killers, the worst they could do is badly cover up an accidental hit-and-run. What about Chris-R? He’s a gun-toting drug dealer, not a serial killer, if he shot all his customers he’d never make any money. What about Steven, or the coffee shop couple? What about the Flowers Lady? What about her dog?

Hi doggy.

Don’t ask stupid questions. No, they didn’t kill anybody. They did not. They aren’t serial killers. They are the victims, and they don’t even know it yet. The only real question left to ask is, which one’ll get them?

Oh. Hi.

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