by David Brown
you’re stuck at home with a newborn baby in the
frosty months of winter, you do some crazy things. Not
crazy in the dance-naked-on-top-of-a-pool-table sense.
No, I’m talking crazy enough to watch Judge
Judy back-to-back at 3:00 and 3:30. Crazy enough
to know every local news personality by name and astrological
sign. And crazy enough to watch more reality television
than one man should witness in a lifetime.
So since I’m a housebound reality TV expert with
a few free moments before my daughter wakes up to discover
she is not in my lap but in her crib, let me break down
the current crop of crap for those of you who like to
go out every once in a while and don’t have time
to figure out which American Idol star can most
entertainingly interpret the works of Marc Anthony.
The original reality series (if you don’t count
The Real World, which was light years ahead of
its time). Survivor broke the prime time network
mold, and continues to dominate. I’m not sure why
this show is still compelling—perhaps because I’ve
destroyed my palette with hundreds of hours of bad TV—but
it is. And this season, the producers have returned to
the clever trick of forcing big-breasted ladies to wear
little or no clothing while competing in physical challenges
that challenge the limits of the bra industry. Contestants
were forced overboard without benefit of clothing appropriate
to the setting. The result is a lot of people running
around in next to nothing, an experiment that has yielded
mixed results. Eventually, this show will be all-nude,
with models as contestants, and broadcast on pay-per-view.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons for Survivor’s
continued success is host Jeff Probst. Most reality shows
feature wooden, expendable hosts who wear out their welcome
on screen in mere seconds. But Probst is there to make
sure things stay interesting, and he accomplishes this
week after week by fueling the fires of infighting, lies,
and jealousy by pitting the strong against the weak, the
hard-working against the lazy, young against old, beautiful
versus ugly, and sane versus psychotic. Jeff Probst is
not afraid to be a prick, and he plays the role to perfection.
The Amazing Race
This show has just about run its course (get it?). It
was compelling in the first season or two, although the
idea of a bunch of rubes playing the ugly American across
five continents, pushing around the meek and wretched
in a desperate, greedy quest to further enrich their own
standing as Winners was always grotesque. But even worse
than the often appalling behavior of the contestants,
the Amazing Race has turned into a predictable
battle between Third World taxi drivers, each being berated
to go faster in English as well as crude versions of their
indigenous language (assuming that language is Spanish
or that the contestants think the local language is Spanish).
They really should rename this show "Which Cab is
Faster", because inevitably, each week, cab drivers
ultimately determine who wins each leg.
This show must be an absolute bear to produce. But there’s
got to be a better way to do it. Make these people have
to traverse Mongolia in the winter time. Good luck getting
a cab at rush hour in Ulaanbaatar.
This is my new favorite, probably because the contestants
are mostly dim-witted, arrogant and flat-out nasty. And
then there’s the host.
The Apprentice is pure Donald Trump: completely
over the top, filled with self-promotion and not nearly
as brilliant as its producers would have you believe.
But that’s all part of the charm. The dramatic boardroom
scenes are a joke, right down to the grim stares of Trump’s
henchmen and his grand entrance from an anteroom after
all the others are seated. (What is he doing in that room
while he’s waiting on everybody to get settled?
Reading? Opening his mail? Playing Grand Theft Auto?)
For a bunch of young go-getters with strong resumes and
can-do attitudes, these idiot contestants come up with
some really bad ideas. The whole show is hysterical. A
recent episode featured a typical argument about who is
screwing up the team that quickly spiraled into a young
woman crying about how she considered cutting up her face
in high school because she was so much more beautiful
than all the other girls. And not for a second did I think
she was insincere. God bless Donald Trump and the minions
One more note about The Apprentice. This show
leads the league in product placement. Each episode doubles
as an advertisement for Yahoo, the Trump empire (Trump
Tower, Trump National Golf Course, Trump Taj Mahal, etc.),
and whatever product or company is worked into that week’s
assignment. This show must cost nothing for NBC
to produce. In fact, they probably make money on it before
they sell one second of ad time.
one show can match the shamelessness of The Apprentice’s
God, you’re saying, Does he actually watch that
show? Yes he does! And it’s on three times a week!
It’s an annoying talent contest doubling as a billboard
for Coke and Ford, hosted by a Level C teen idol and judged
by; a) a former Laker Girl turned pop star whose talent
is as questionable as her intellect; b) an effeminate
Brit who is clearly the smartest guy in the room and looks
really unhappy to even be involved with this show anymore;
and c) Randy Jackson. I don’t know who Randy Jackson
is or is supposed to be, but his affected hip-hop mannerisms
and speech is as unconvincing as mine would be.
show is simply about propping up the dreams of the stupid
and delusional in order to trample all over them while
embarrassing these fools for our own amusement. Honestly,
what’s not to like?
watching the premier of the latest Mark Burnett production,
I have to admit, I’m probably hooked (Sly had me
at “Yo”). The fact that this show is about
boxing was enough to pique my interest. But what’s
most interesting about it is that this is truly a reality
show. These guys are actual professional fighters, all
middleweights looking for a title shot. And each time
they fight in the show, the bout is a sanctioned fight
that counts toward their record. These guys have a lot
more at stake than some bartender from Seattle camping
out on a beach in the South Pacific. And if you don’t
appreciate that, then at least you get a five-round boxing
match at the end of each episode.
Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy
embarrassed to admit it, but this show held my interest
for almost two full episodes. That’s more than the
average television program, so I feel compelled to mention
it. Now forget I mentioned it.
Brown is a staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine)