In order to train for this week of reviewing the reality shows that I had bypassed over the past month, I had to do some very rigorous training so that I was fit in body, mind, and spirit for the challenges that lay ahead. I started an argument with my estranged mother, I ate self-destructively, and I lived with the family of my fictitious girlfriend, Hymrhy’nahh. She is a Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk, so I had to learn to kill game with my paws and sleep in a hammock suspended hundreds of feet into the air.
It was grueling and pushed my endurance to limits beyond the normally human. I am rapidly becoming part of the unique brotherhood of Special Forces television watchers. They have burnt my identity so that I can later go on to ridicule Bollywood and the largely un-criticized world of underground pornography. My mind and body have been sharpened to a razor’s keenness, and I am ready to debrief you on what my reality recon has revealed.
Imagine The Biggest Loser without any charm. Instead of being a competition, it is a disturbing look at the lives of individuals that are gradually eating themselves to death. The people are morbidly obese, unable to live normally because of their great heft. They are often suffering from numerous medical ailments and are playing peek-a-boo with their own mortality.
What I think
I will be the first to admit that obesity is a gruesome way to die, and an epidemic in America, not to mention the afflictions that are associated with it, such as heart disease, hyper-tension, high cholesterol, and myriad others. Over three hundred thousand deaths are attributed to obesity in America, which makes it a far more insidious killer than cancer can ever hope to be.
I am fine with the show acting as a public service announcement and bringing the ugly shame of obesity and compulsive eating into the forefront. It is not something I will watch, because the drama of the grotesque feels too much like a side-show to me. It feels like an extended episode of Maury and I just do not care to watch.
Pauly Shore hosts a show in which an engaged couple from very different backgrounds are forced to live with their future in-laws for a week. They are forced to abide by whatever strange rules the families choose to force upon them. Sometimes a city girl is forced to do chores on a farm while her cowboy fiancé tries to live life in the big city. After a week they come together to share their experience, what they have learned, and how they have grown.
What I think
Usually invocation of the words “Pauly Shore” is tantamount to chanting “Bloody Mary” in a darkened bathroom. Actually, being chased out of a pitch black room by a woman wielding a bloody knife would be significantly better than hearing the haunting lilt of “Hey Buuuuuudy.” In this case, whoever the producers and / or editors are have done an outstanding job of reigning in Pauly’s moronic input.
While the fish out of water idea has been beaten to death by the spectacles of shows such as Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life” or “Wife Swap” this has a cute spin to it that was enjoyable in a gushy, girly sort of way. Seeing the devoted partners learn about some of the trials of the life of the other party was sometimes very touching. While the show too often aims for the quick laugh with prissy party girls slopping hogs or a man wearing a string tie to a wedding, when someone actually walks a mile in the shoes of someone they love, there are aspects that can be very endearing.
Joan Rivers moves in with her daughter, Melissa, her “tween” son Cooper, and brings her funny antics as well as the typical reality-TV screaming matches and hijinks that must ensue in any show that follows this formula. It tosses in Melissa’s boyfriend, personal assistant, gorgeous Swedish nanny, and a long-time friend to help round out the cast that plays the backstop for the mother-daughter extravaganza.
What I think
It is Joan and Melissa Rivers. It is reality television about the undeservedly wealthy living in a faux-dramatic environment to pretend they are just like other people, with the same wishes and woes. It is just a mother and daughter sharing their lives and their love. The family dynamic is no more charming or endearing than it was when the Hulkster knew best, and at least that had a kitsch appeal. This is just the sad bleating of unlikable people.
I have begged before when I was horrified by Fairly Legal, and I am begging you now: women, do something about this. This is on WE, which means it was probably shot down by E!, by Oxygen, maybe even Oprah did not want it on her emergent network. Let us be honest with each other, when lady O might be boycotting it, shouldn’t everyone?
In a Project Runway type showdown, a group of upcoming makeup and graphic artists come together to compete for an opportunity to work on the makeup and special effects crew of an actual Hollywood production.
What I think
Finally, something everyone can relate to: The Makeup Showdown. Just as so many of us were drawn into ill-advised dance-offs during our rough and tumble high school years, so too have many of us gone toe to toe in the ring of foundation and toner. I know this took me back to the years when I would be blindfolded by my drill instructor and then air dropped deep into hostile territory with nothing but my wits and a service compact to survive.
It is not a bad show and is very much a “behind the mask” look at the special effects community. I have never been a “Making of” kind of television viewer, but I like the option in the event I want to learn while I watch instead of just stare like a bug in a jar at my television. The competition is not as preposterous as the cooking shows, and they do not try to trump up the drama as much. It showcases some very talented artists and has an engaging balance.
I could die happily without ever seeing anything else that claims to be reality television. It might because I want to have my emotions manipulated by a group of writers instead of trying to connect to the painted trollops that masquerade as real people when actuality reveals them to be little more than media vampires that attach to the underbelly of society and we scrape and fawn to give them the attention they desire.
It might all be fake, but I like my falsities a little more honest than reality television offers.