Ladies Be Filmin’: Ringer

The fall TV season is underway and, despite the ever-lower numbers of women in the writers’ rooms, it’s being hailed as the year of the women: 17 out of the 25 new scripted shows on the Big Five networks are female-centered and many were created by women. In this series, comedian Leila Cohan-Miccio watches the new female-centered shows and evaluates how realistic their portrayals of women actually are. First up, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to television: Ringer.

Everything about Ringer can be summed up in one scene: Bridget, one of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s characters (more on that in a minute), wakes up on a yacht to find her identical twin sister Siobhan missing, her engagement ring left in an empty pill container. Bridget spots Siobhan’s sweater in the water and jumps in to look for her sister. She goes underwater…and the show can’t afford to follow her, so we’re treated to an extended shot of the top of the water. That’s Ringer: decent ideas without the ability to follow through.

The overcomplicated plot of Ringer’s pilot follows Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a former addict and stripper. After escaping from testifying in a murder trial, she meets up with identical twin, rich lady Siobhan (also Gellar), who promptly jumps off a boat. Obviously, the most logical course of action is for Bridget to assume Siobhan’s identity, only to learn, in a twist shocking to no one, that her sister’s picture-perfect life is not so perfect.

The good news: Sarah Michelle Gellar looks amazing, to the point where I wonder if there is a picture of her in an attic somewhere a la Dorian Gray. Gellar and hottie Mike Colter, as Bridget’s sponsor, have great chemistry.

The bad news: pretty much everything else. Gellar doesn’t get to have any of the fun she had on Buffy: she’s stuck looking terrified (as Bridget) or bored (Siobhan) with no wit. Though there’s a fight scene, she’s mostly getting her ass kicked, rather than kicking ass.

The plot is overcomplicated – is the big story here Bridget’s trouble with the law or the mystery of where Siobhan went or Siobhan’s messy personal life? Who knows? Worse, the very fun fish-out-of-water idea of trashy Bridget having to fit into posh Siobhan’s life is basically ignored in favor of approximately one hundred close-ups of Sarah Michelle Gellar looking pensive in front of a mirror. The dialogue is on-the-nose to the max – a scene where Bridget calls her sponsor and explains the entire plot is particularly egregious.

Women don’t come off particularly well in Ringer – Bridget’s not terribly bright and Siobhan is just mean – but then, neither does anyone. Bad news, Buffy fans: this isn’t the Sarah Michelle Gellar comeback vehicle you’ve been waiting for.

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