In case people don't know, Dirt is a show about a glossy celebrity gossip magazine whose editor Lucy, played by Courtney Cox, has enough problems of her own to fill a special issue. As a teenager, she found her father hanging with a note that told her that one day she would understand; she has always had intimacy issues of one kind or another though she has recently traded in her vibrator for a fling with a rising young action star Holt. Holt got his big break because Lucy ran a story about a veteran action star Dawson, who cheated on her brother; he has a heroic reputation after saving his wife from a car crash that was in fact caused by his guilt over the death of a star whose pregnancy he leaked to Lucy as a favour. These are thoroughly awful people, but Lucy in particular has a wide-eyed professional glitter than makes me rather love her.
And then there is the major reason to love both Lucy and the show, which is Ian Hart as Don. Don is Lucy's oldest friend and a paparazzo who will do anything to get a shot - including cutting off his little finger to get into an emergency room where a Christian rock star is recovering from burning her face off smoking crack. Don is also a high-functioning schizophrenic who occasionally forgets to take his meds - for a while he was haunted by the dead pregnant star (whom he had snapped in the crematorium) until she gave birth to his new cat and told him he had to take the meds so she could leave him. Ian Hart (whom I have seen play John Lennon and Beethoven and be totally convincing as both) is extraordinary here; he and Lucy are the most important people in each other's lives without there being a smidge of sexual vibe between them. One of Don's girlfriends accuses Lucy of keeping Don mad and broke and there is a certain justice in this; Lucy and his cat of the day are the reason he gets up in the morning, and none of the real or imaginary women in his life will ever be that.
We don't find this sad, just how things are.
This week was the bubble episode - a fading child star takes the magazine hostage - and showed both Lucy and Don at their best. She keeps almost all of her staff alive by finding ways of giving the star what he wants, when he comes in planning to kill her and possibly everyone else for imagined slights; she and Don save each other's lives at key moments. Her boss, who loathes her, also saves Lucy at one point. Next week, Dirt does a sex issue that coincides with said boss and his sweetie (an ambitious underling of Lucy's) getting into trouble over a threesome with an underage pickup; that looks like a fairly amazing episode too.
Dirt is, like its FX stable-mate Nip/Tuck a show with much slashiness and wonderfully OTT gothic plotting; it also plays entertainingly to our prurience about the lives of celebrities.
It also had the scene where thugs break into a man's house and start cooking - only eventually does it emerge that they are preparing the sauce with which they are going to make him eat his dick...
It certainly is not my favourite show, or anything like - but it has become one of my reliable weekly pleasures, whereas The Dresden Files never made the cut and The L Word is only hanging on by the elegant fingernails of Cybill Shepherd and Veronica Mars had become a pious chore until it sorted itself out this week and made me like it again.