Pushed, which the WB premiered in January before releasing all 25 episodes to promote the show as its sexy summer drama, has an interesting concept behind it. Created by Law and Order producers Morgan Gendel and Jeremy Littman, this attempt at an intimate thriller revolves around London (Veronica Taylor), a model whose mental health is less than stable, haunted as she is by the death of her mother. But London’s shaky mental state may have less to do with her own psyche and more to do with her husband (Mark Matkevich) and little sister (Holland Roden), both of whom have a vested interest in her becoming a loony bin resident.
So the plot invokes the classic thriller Gaslight — just subtract Ingrid Bergman’s incredible performance, George Cukor’s claustrophobic and terrifying staging, and any sort of mystery as to what’s going on. It’s a show chock-full of poor production value and dull characterization, all too easy to poke fun at. So let’s get started…
First off, the soundtrack for this show is bad. No, not bad — appalling. Let me be blunt: It’s possibly the worst soundtrack for a web series I’ve ever heard, repeating the same guitar loop over almost every scene until you wish the show was subtitled so you could mute it and still vaguely understand what was happening.
Roden as Sascha, the younger sister, is probably the most engaging of the characters, as she gets most of the good lines. Plus, given how unlikable everyone is, it’s easy to identify with her blatant disdain for her older sister and brother-in-law.
My personal favorite moment: the bit in episode 4 where Kirk tells his father-in-law that he’s lined up some viral marketing for their company. When asked what good that does the company, Kirk replies, “Viral marketing. What don’t you get?” Note: Just using Web 2.0 buzzwords doesn’t make it sound like you know what they mean.
The odd truth of Pushed is that the more episodes you watch, the more intrigued you become — not by the plot, exactly, but rather by the sheer level of ridiculousness. How many blatant hints that “nothing is as it seems” can one episode deliver? How many flashbacks to previous episodes can fit into the 2-minute runtime? How many different ways can each episode use the show’s only location (London’s glam Hollywood mansion)? And, of course, how many different times can they recycle the same soundtrack loops?
I suppose in proud soap opera tradition, Pushed isn’t too far-fetched. But its execution is barely above the amateur level, not up to The WB’s previous standards, and it’s frustrating to witness as a result. Sometimes, it’s no wonder that drama has a hard time finding a foothold online. You can hope that the good stuff gets the chance it deserves, but when this is what gets mainstream promotion, it’s enough to make you worry.