|Linda Francis Lee’s Suddenly Sexy is like a puzzle, one with a few intriguing pieces that nevertheless create a less than pleasing picture.
Katherine (Kate) Bloom is news anchor at KTEX. Known for her serious style and news stories, Kate’s latest project is designed to let TV viewers see her softer side. The first episode of her new program, Getting Real with Kate, calls for her to interact with “the naked chef.” When he doesn’t show up for the appearance, Kate’s boss and friend, Julia, has a clothed Jesse Chapman fill in.
Though she hasn’t seen the famous golfer in some time, Kate knew Jesse while they were growing up: “Jesse had always made her feel like she could survive.” Jesse is four years older than Kate, and they spent many hours together as children. Kate eventually fell in love with him. Believing that he wasn’t good enough for Kate, Jesse did his best to stay away from her. Now he’s back in town to escape publicity, and Julia maneuvers Kate into letting him stay at her guesthouse. Kate still loves him, and Jesse still fights his desire for her.
Suddenly Sexy lays the foundation for a good story. Friends who become lovers can be a compelling plot; it happens to be one of my favorites. Also, I loved the message that being who you are is sexy. But several issues keep this from evolving into a solid story.
The problem starts with the live newscast in chapter 1. Jesse’s willingness to participate is odd since he wants to get away from the media. Then he makes suggestive comments designed to fluster Kate, such as “You have to hold them [the tomatoes] . . . and take them gently.” Kate, in turn, blushes and fumbles her way through the segment. This sets the tone for all of the Getting Real segments. When you add Julia’s breezy attitude, it becomes difficult to take any of these characters seriously.
Irrational behavior simply compounds the problem. Kate wants and loves Jesse but doesn’t seem to notice that his comments undermine her on the air. Jesse knocks his brother, Derek, against the wall more than once when straightforward communication would serve them both better. Then there’s Derek, whose every appearance set my teeth on edge. First, he’s Kate’s self-appointed protector, despite the fact that she is a grown woman. He also persists in jumping to all the wrong conclusions about Jesse. For instance, most reasonable people would recognize that when a parent introduces an eleven-year-old child to alcohol and cigarettes, that parent bears the lion’s share of the blame. Derek, however, has to have this pointed out to him.
All of these problems result in a read that’s largely unsatisfying. While Suddenly Sexy has moments of interest, they aren’t enough to make it a puzzle worth piecing together.