I Watch Shitty Shows So You Don’t Have To
I have more free time. And, apparently the policy in our apartment is that anything that somehow gets onto the DVR must be watched. And the frickin DVR has a mind of its own – I turned off Tool Academy after 5 minutes and took it off record. But there it was, every week. It would not go away. And so we watched. And I’m certain that it shaved a good 15-20 points off of my already regressing IQ.
I’m here to save everyone else from such a fate. I will take a look at some retarded shows and save you some gray matter. Since tomorrow is Wednesday it probably makes sense to start with…
Real World: Brooklyn (MTV, Wednesdays at 10:00 PM EST)
Two-word Cast Description: Black girl. Token gay. Tat girl. Gender reassigner. Bodybuilder/model. Dancer/dancing disliker. Really-seems-ghey mormon. Ex-army guy.
Summary: By now, everyone is pretty much familiar with the Real World formula: mix together combustible (yet attractive) people from all walks of life, and watch them fight and fornicate. Sometimes at the same time. Each cast member will have some lame story line: “I always wanted to live in Omaha because I have longed to pursue a career in agriculture, and there aren’t many ag opportunities in Compton.” There’s always some contrived “work” that the cast members have to do, but it’s all essentialy staged for the inevitable fighting and fornicating.
What’s New This Year: Since being gay doesn’t pack much shock value anymore, this season MTV has raised the bar with Katelynn, a post-op dude-turned-chick. There’s also a regular gay dude who seems to be straight given his anger issues and a virgin mormon widely assumed to be gay. I’m pretty sure that he’s just ultra naive (think Will Ferrell in Elf) but some of his quotes strain credulity. The others are basically the same cookie cutter types you see every season, with the exception of Ryan, the Army vet. Thankfully, he is by far the most normal person on this show and comes across as a likable regular guy who’s looking forward to starting over after getting back from Iraq. (Spoiler alert: Never look forward to anything when the military is prominently involved in any possible disappointment)
What Interesting Things Happen on the Show: Nothing. This season is hurting. There’s zero chance of anyone hooking up on this show. The producers have been reduced to having the guys play silly pranks on the girls. Not pranks with the panache of Jim Halpert, either – more Dwight’s style. The bodybuilder dude and dancer girl were barely on the first 5-6 episodes. No one really gets drunk (except sometimes the token gay guy, which seems odd), no one has sex (although Devyn is certainly juggling a lot of guys) and the fights are always of the “please-do-the-dishes” variety. (Although there was potential for the extremely rare do-not-steal-my-artificial-vagina-growing-tools-as-a-prank argument. Unfortunately tensions eased before they got to this point)
Having Katelynn traipse around in panties was bothersome on many levels. Not so much for the whole transgender thing, but more for “everyone else here is pretty modest; i guess to make a great impression I should walk around in my panties constantly” reasons. From the get go those savvy guys knew something was amiss with her and they correctly guessed that it was a dong. When the big secret came out, there were dribs and drabs of humor as the guys asked questions about the process (although Chet (might-be-gay-mormon) predictably asked some creepy ones). But even this supposedly inflammatory cast addition is really just kind of boring (as well as really messy).
Conclusion: Don’t waste your time. JD’s (token gay guy) meltdown was the only mildly interesting thing that’s happened so far, and they all pretended it didn’t happen the next day. So read a book or something, but don’t waste your time on this. But for heaven’s sake if you are hurting for TV to watch on Wednesday, don’t even consider directing your dial to…
High School Reunion (TVLand, Wednesdays at 10:00 PM EST)
Two-word Cast Description: Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Non-ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Dude. Ugly Chick. Ugly Chick.
Summary: I didn’t see the first season of HSR (a relief that this no longer has anything to do with Hart, Scott or the other guy) but the setup seemed enticing: take a handful of people from a random high school class set to have its twentieth reunion and have them cohabitate in a resort house in Hawaii. This is right in my wheelhouse since I graduated at roughly the same time (from high school; college took me seven total years as, uh, the NCAA granted me three redshirt seasons). They try to populate the “reunion” with key stock characters: the Jock, the Class Clown, the Snob, the Beauty Queen, the Dickwad, the Stalker – all your favorites are here.
Plotlines: The producers attempt to make it interesting with various subplots: a woman has held a 20 year grudge against another woman because of a slumber party snub (gasp!); two of the reunionites were formerly married (and the wife is inexplicably in high demand) leading to some awkwardness; two frat boy types from a different graduating class at the same school are air-dropped in to stir things up.
The mechanisms for personal interactions are Hall Passes (you get to pick someone to go do an activity with) and Detention (the producers pick someone for you to be stuck with on some random activity). This being TVLand, there won’t be much adult-oriented action. Although one of the girls was allegedly in Playboy (must have been the “Insecure Girls of Botched Plastic Surgery” issue).
What Interesting Things Happen on the Show: Nothing. It’s super-duper boring. The staged fights/rivalries generally fizzle out.
One of the interlopers (the two guy from a different graduating class) got pretty drunk the first night and made some inflammatory comments. The rest of the cast spent approximately four consecutive episodes deciding whether to kick him out, culminating in a Jedi council meeting where they nearly-unanimously decided to do so. He walked in on this meeting and apologized. Instant forgiveness was granted (except for one tool who could not abide this forgiveness and sent his own message by leaving Hawaii). In his defense Shalonda’s high school picture does bear more than a passing resemblence to that of Buckwheat. There’s nothing wrong with that – most of the children of the 80’s have at least one regrettable look in their past. If I could go back in time, along with preventing myself from watching Real World: Brooklyn and HSR, I would skip over my “parachute pants and sleeveless white tee shirts” phase.
The “wannabe” girl who was snubbed by the other girl (who herself carried some (literal/fun) baggage – she had apparently suffered brutal teasing for having large breasts) used this hatred to fuel a Keyser Söze-esque quest for revenge. It was all resolved as a silly childhood misunderstanding after ten minutes. They spent like eighty hours of screen buildup for this quick and easy resolution. Sweet. Glad I invested some time in this. Awesome how they repeat stuff 7-9 times to make sure you get how major the issue is and then it just disappears.
Another radically unattractive guy was dropped in a few episodes later as the long-time “crush” of the one girl on the show who is not hideously ugly. This gentleman had had a rough go of it lately – his roommate had stolen all of his shit (or something like that, too lazy to track down the details). So the producers hooked him up with multiple Hall Passes with his crush. It was excruciating to watch his fumbling advances (even though the two interlopers tried to give him some ladykilling advice). She was at least nice about it, belying her “snob” past. Ultimately, her rejection led this sad fellow to nude up and jump in the pool, probably one of the least-desired images in television history.
Conclusion: Again, don’t bother. But one question for the producers: where the fuck did you get this homely menagerie?? They are from Arizona, for Christ’s sake – couldn’t you at least have found a graduating class with 1-2 average looking people? The “hot” guy in this group has skin that would have Tommy Lee Jones seeking out the nearest laser skin resurfacing center. Even if you hypothetically wanted to watch this program, you would have to spend much of your time averting your eyes (one of the girls either has Type 10 skin cancer, 7th degree sun burn or leprosy). Spare yourself.