Tag Archives: mtv

Better Than the Jersey Shore

Over the past few months, Jersey Shore has served as the tacit Bible for those who wish to follow the path of  DJ Jesus: a life of immodest tanning, unattractive hair styling, and exuberant fist pumping interspersed with punches in the face.  But now that the show is over, where will we find our future prophets, our next Snookis, J-Wowws, or Pauly Ds?  I’m so distraught that I can’t even deal with The Situation.  But, if MTV decides that they’d like to expand their Shore franchise, here are some recommendations:

  • Connecticut Shore: Clad in blazers, cashmere, and khakis bearing small crustacean logos, our pasty-white cast members will showcase the best of Connecticut living.  With this group, they don’t do hair gel; they do hair pomade… sprinkled with saffron and Bulova gold flakes.  Follow the drama surrounding Bernard’s trust fund tussle, Priscilla’s equestrian meet, and Theodore VII’s late-night car crash while drunk off white wine spritzers.  On the Connecticut Shore, controversy will ensue after Gabriel is found buying a sale item at Vineyard Vines.  Lawsuits will fly after Madison steals a string of pearls for her charity auction, Helping Hedge Fund Survivors.  And love will find a way, as outcast Zoe will fall for a grunge, homeless, starving artist from Brooklyn in a shocking act of Connecticut rebellion.
  • Cleveland Shore: Follow the travails of all-American Clevelandites as they try to find things to do other than drink beer every night in their moms’ basements.  Witness the tension between Joe and Mary during their eighteenth trip to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  Guess if Mikey will ever be successful in his nightly attempts to find LeBron’s house.  And see if sweet Carol Anne can actually summon Jesus Christ into her bedroom by using a Ouija board.  Plaid shirts, overalls, and yellow gingham dresses have never been so hip.  With our hot, denim-clad characters and the scandalous backdrop of Cleveland, you can hum hymns while humping hims (but only if you’re a “her”… it’s still a red state at heart).  And despite the fact that their “shore” is only on a lake, at least it’s a great lake.
  • Monterey Shore: The wine is out, the clothes are off, and the hazy Monterey Shore promises to be a laid-back lovefest of crunchy activists.  Follow Marcel and Kyaaledi (pronounced “Joan”) as they protest the deforestation of the Komodor dog.  Find out if Meadow can sell her rhubarb milk shakes at the beach while competing with the capitalist lemonade stand.  Try not to salivate from the mouth as you watch Isaac play the ukelele naked, just ’cause he feels like it.  With a beautiful Californian cast that includes four women, four men, and an adopted baby seal named Scooter (lone survivor of the club-a-seal booth at the beach fair), the Monterey Shore will get you thinking about more than just fair trade bananas and organic tea parties.  You know, it’s about life, man… and bangin’.
  • Texas Shore: If you want drama, turn off TNT and change your channel to Texas Shore.  In Texas’ own version of the Bloods and Crips, we have our red-blooded God enthusiasts facing off against the cryptic indie film lovers of Austin.  Throw in a side of Mexicans, and you have a hit show.  Texas Shore is full of brawn, religion, papis, and, of course, guns.  Follow George as he drives along the Texas coastline in his pickup, chanting “America!  America!”, with a rifle out the passenger seat.  Watch as Nina (single, bespectacled, bra-less) stumps for outdated causes, like women’s rights and freedom for Native Americans.  Will George and Nina ever find true love together?  Will jean cut-offs meet saggy polyester in an immediate union of love and retired fashions?  And what will happen when the U.S. tries to deport Ricardo in the middle of his American Idol audition?  Stay tuned…

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Worldly Lessons in Politics From The Hills

On Tuesday night, we welcomed the return of an American institution, The Hills, to primetime television. The Hills is MTV’s long-running reality show featuring the glamorous side of Hollywood life. We follow a handful of attractive trust fund babies as they get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, yell at each other, and then take sides in a Cold War of icy staredowns and sex tapes.

jbobbyIf you think about it, The Hills could easily be adapted to The Hill – that is, Capitol Hill. Where else will you get dramatic backstabbing and illicit romances? In fact, there are more interesting scandals in Washington than in the valley: All Speidi ever did was accuse Lauren of hiding a sex tape. Sarah Palin accused the President of planning to kill grandma. And what’s with this new “drama” between Kristin and Audrina fighting over our favorite hobo-riche iconoclast, Justin Bobby? There are far more people fighting over that slut of a public option than JB.

For every storyline about Brody creeping on a girl, I’ll give you John Ensign and David Vitter. For every storyline about Heidi saying something crazy, I’ll give you Michele Bachmann saying something even worse (“I’m very concerned Barack Obama may have anti-American views… The kids who voted en masse for Barack Obama are the ones being fitted with shackles and chains.”) And for every storyline about The Hills having some redeeming social value?  Well, YOU LIE.

thehill

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Semi-Serious Ideas in Entertainment

singled-out1. MTV FOR OLD PEOPLE: With a rapidly aging population and a surplus of baby boomers who still want to stay hip, I propose the creation of a new TV network for the older demographic. Like its teenage counterpart MTV, FOP (“For Old People”) could feature variations on popular shows. There could be FOP versions of classic MTV hits, like Singled Out: Octogenarians, My Super Sweet One Hundred (Esther gets a new motorized scooter!), or True Life: I’m a Denture Capitalist. Some other ideas for FOP programming: Survivor: Nursing Home, Are You Smarter Than a Senile Old Coot, and The Amazing Race to Heaven.

 

madoffd2. RENAME PUNK’D: In our new recessionary era, Madoff’d is the new Punk’d. The pilot episode could feature a $65 billion bonfire, with Bernie lighting up dollar bills while Alan Greenspan roasts marshmallows over the flames. Then Kutcher’s lackeys can go around to all of Madoff’s former investors and give them their pile of ash, along with a S’more. You just got Madoff’d! This can be followed by a new Publishers Clearinghouse show, where we watch Ed McMahon as he goes into people’s houses with a big camera crew and, “Surprise!” — forecloses their homes.

sesame

3. MODERNIZE SESAME STREET: With these hard new times, let’s see the effect of unemployment on the Street. Are Bert and Ernie worried about paying bills? Does Big Bird look extra-frazzled? Is there a surplus of unemployed day laborers in the neighborhood? This is a great opportunity to get toddlers thinking about the impact of credit default swaps on their cookie jar. “A is for AIG, B is for bankruptcy, C is for collateralized debt obligations… and F is for failure.” And speaking of cookies, maybe we can also encourage the Cookie Monster to watch his waistline. Yogurt Monster might not be as fun, but he’ll probably live longer.

gladiators

4. AMERICAN GLADIATORS MEETS C-SPAN: Every few years, we deal with the same drama in House, Senate, and Presidential elections. There are counts and recounts, hanging chads and run-off votes. There are promises and lies, hacks and phonies, Joe the Plumbers and Sarah Palins. (No wonder there’s political apathy in this country.) What if there was an easier way to decide it all? Why can’t we just run all our politicians through the Eliminator? (Junior Senators and House reps can opt for the easier Aggro Crag on GUTS instead.) The real decisionmakers, though, must perform Gladiator-style. They must face ‘roided up men and manly women. They’ll joust with Justice and try to deport Helga. The Eliminator will test their physical strength and mettle, and all of it will be shown on national TV. Then after the competition, Ryan Seacrest will announce the winner: “America, you voted… The new President of the United States is… Find out after the commercial break!”


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Best All-Around: Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX)

Now that awards season is upon us, it’s time to reflect on the past fall’s TV lineup and welcome the spring slate of shows (new and returning) that will ease our winter hibernation. While American Idol will likely win its 8th “Most Popular” title in a row, here are some television superlatives, high school-style, for your viewing pleasure:

MOST POPULAR: American Idol (8 pm, Tuesdays, FOX) The crazier Paula Abdul gets, the better ratings the show receives… That’s a good combination for FOX, since that woman is straight up insane, and Simon’s getting a bit boring.

tim-rigginsBEST LOOKING: It’s a toss-up between Simon Baker on The Mentalist (9 pm, Tuesdays, CBS) and Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins of Friday Night Lights (9 pm, Fridays, NBC). Given that Riggs is actually in high school, perhaps he deserves this award. On the other side, I’ll let the guys decide who they prefer on Gossip Girl (8 pm, Mondays, CW): Blair or Serena?

MOST CRAZY (IN A GOOD WAY): Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock (9:30 pm, Thursdays, NBC)… This is why 30 Rock won 5 Golden Globes.

MOST CRAZY (IN A BAD WAY): Mrs. B as a crazy mom on the reality show, Momma’s Boys, which had its season finale on Monday night. Her poor son Jojo (who, by the way, was looking for love at the ripe old age of 21) tried to win over girls after his mother’s racist speech, declaring all but white Catholics suitable for her darling son. Jojo may need to try the priesthood now that this show has aired.

Layout 1BIGGEST TRAIN WRECK: I will nominate the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy (9 pm, Thursdays, ABC) for this award. Let’s see, George has slept with 3 of the female leads, Meredith has had two ridiculous near death experiences (hand in bomb, ferryboat accident), and now Izzie is sleeping with the ghost of her dead ex-fiance (whom she accidentally killed). I used to watch this show religiously… these days, it’s lucky to get DVRed.

SAD FOR HUMANITY: There are a whole host of shows that fall into this category–Tool Academy on VH1, Rock of Love 2 on MTV, Nip/Tuck on FX (how fast it’s fallen)–but the runaway winner is MTV’s A Double Shot at Love, with the Ikki Twins. I think it’s pretty easy to justify how this show is sad for humanity; if you Google “double shot at love,” the first link leads to this proclamation: “OMG! i love a double shot at love even know im 10 years old i stull love you guys you guys are buteyful.” Future of America…

KILL IT NOW: We like watching fictional rich girls live out melodramas on the Upper East Side, but we don’t like watching melodramatic rich girls live out fictional storylines in The City (10 pm, Mondays, MTV). Spare us the misery of watching Whitney attempt to be interesting. I’d almost rather watch Bromance on repeat than sit through another episode of The City… well, almost. In both scenarios, death would be a welcome alternative.

damagesBEST ALL-AROUND: Speaking of death, I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Glenn Close as Patty Hewes on Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX). Why is it that Glenn Close always plays crazy so well? With the best cast, the best plotlines, and the best stony looks on television (thanks, Rose Byrnes), Damages is my new favorite show (FNL is a close #2). And you know it’s got to be good when you need to keep a light on while watching.

WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING THIS SPRING: (suggestions, comments, insults, and digs always appreciated)

Monday:

8 PM: Gossip Girl (CW)

9:30 PM: Samantha Who (ABC)

Tuesday:

8 PM: The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Wednesday:

9 PM: Lost (ABC)

10 PM: Damages (FX) / Top Chef (Bravo)

Thursday:

9 PM: The Office (NBC) / 30 Rock (NBC) / Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Friday:

9 PM: Friday Night Lights (NBC)

And on occasion: Bones (8 pm, Thursdays, FOX), Without a Trace (10 pm, Tuesdays, CBS…and the only CBS show I’m watching), House Hunters and Property Virgins (HGTV), Iron Chef America (Food Network)

They’ve got potential: Some new shows with promise… Kings (8 pm, Sundays, NBC), Lie to Me (9 pm, Wednesdays, FOX)

 

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Whitney Houston Has a Point: The Children Are Our Future

…And it’s looking like our future is grim.

Recently, I’ve heard myself lamenting quite often about “kids these days”. With such esteemed role models as Paris Hilton, bingin’ Lindsay Lohan, and a semi-literate former President (thank you, Texas), it’s no wonder that fears about the future generation are growing. Here is a cynic’s list of a few concerns I have for young’ns today…

  • Each day, we hear another story about drunk teenagers getting into car accidents, mugging strangers, lighting fires, and/or vandalizing buildings. bustedShows like MTV’s “Busted” chronicle these transgressions, but in typical MTV fashion, the thin veneer of morality is superseded by deference to the teenage delinquents (much like the spoiled brats in “My Super Sweet Sixteen”). So, getting arrested is now permanently in the “cool” category. To rephrase President Bush’s famous quote, “Is our children learnin’?”, we probably ought to ask, “Is our jails big enough?”
  • Also in the “cool” category: There has been a huge swell in the teenage baby-making business. We have seen girls keeping pregnancy pacts and looking for homeless suitors to be their baby daddies. Celebrity teen moms are churning out newborns faster than Levi Johnston can get out of Wasilla. From Juno to Juneau, pregnancy is “in”.
  • And just how are these pregnancy pacts being made? Well, by text message, of course. A side effect of improved technology is illiteracy. As kids spend less time at home and more time with iPhone, the language of MySpace becomes the language of our space (oh, snap). That is, all communication will be through a limited assemblage of letters and numbers: C U L8ER, IM GOING 2 JAIL 4 LIFE (but watch my MTV show at 9).
  • chuckAnd finally, with countless fellatio-themed jams on the radio, and hit TV shows that glorify sex, drugs, and underage drinking, we must blame the media for its omnipotent role in poisoning the young minds of America. Because if it weren’t for lollipops and Chuck Bass, Jamie Lynn Spears would not be pregnant again. Kids these days…

Considering all this, if the children are our future, I’m scared. I’m hoping that Whitney was in one of her bad spells when she made that prediction. To loosely channel Van Halen via The Kinks, where have all the wholesome times gone?

…Then again, I grew up with Monica Lewinsky, Cuban cigars, a stained Gap dress, and the Starr report moonlighting as a supermarket tabloid. Not to mention 90210, O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman in a dress, Pam and Tommy Lee, the height of Jerry Springer, the birth of video games, the Michael Skakel case, beanie babies, Furbys, and acid-washed jeans. All weird, and potentially poisonous to the brain. And I think I turned out OK… So maybe we should just let the kids lead the way… and remind us how we used to be.

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We Love Them Rich White People

On Monday night, Republicans gathered in Minnesota to celebrate their geriatric candidate and his new minx of a running mate. However, the GOP’s grand kickoff, complete with fierce antiwar protests and exciting baby news, was overshadowed not only by concerns about Hurricane Gustav, but by another convoy of teenagers having premarital sex: the second season premiere of the racy high school drama, Gossip Girl. The CW hit, which exposes “the lives of Manhattan’s elite,” was followed by an episode of The Hills on MTV, making Monday the waspiest night of television since the days of Leave it to Beaver. And although Mrs. Cleaver may not have approved of the shows’ (and the GOP’s) rampant superficiality and gratuitous sex, she probably couldn’t help but be a teeny bit entertained… While we may loathe to admit it, the guilty pleasures of The Hills and Gossip Girl are the highlights of our week.

For those unfamiliar with either show, the basic premise is the same: we follow young, attractive girls in their formative years as they go through boys and Blahniks, helped along by an endless trust fund that finances their many exploits. Both shows have likable female protagonists (GG’s Serena/The Hills’ Lauren), shameless male villains (Chuck/Spencer), and a supporting cast that provides much of the rich-white-people drama that we love (Jenny and Blair’s bitchy feud/Audrina and Lo’s nasty-look catfights). Gossip Girl is replete with older woman scandals, best friend betrayals, and (OMFG) social class mixing between the Upper East Side sophisticates and the intellectually-inclined bourgeois of Brooklyn. The Hills maintains its intrigue with the “unscripted” drama encircling Lauren and her friends, who spend their time making appearances at clubs, “working” as peons in Hollywood, and yelling at each other.

Both shows have managed to build an adoring, slightly-obsessive fan base. We have always had a soft spot for the spoiled rich girl (Kelly from Saved by the Bell, Jen from Dawson’s Creek). With the proliferation of similar shows, like the Real Housewives series and the return of 90210, the young TV audience today has embraced the immodest lifestyles of the elite.  But even while we lap it up, the semi-serious storylines of our privileged friends almost seem denigrating to us “common” folk, who don’t drive Bentleys or summer in the Hamptons. While we may have been able to identify with Kelly or Jen, the lives of Lauren and Serena are far removed from the average viewer: most of us actually have a real job (ahem, Lauren), and most of us did not accidentally kill anyone in a cocaine binge (ahem, Serena).

The reality is, these shows are so entertaining not because we can relate to these characters, but because they represent a lifestyle that we find both fascinating and preposterous. The absurdity is what draws us in and keeps us watching. While socially conservative critics have condemned the shows’ excesses and moral hollowness, we’d argue that most viewers are discerning enough to separate fiction from reality… After all, if we’re looking for sex, lies, and scandal this week, Minneapolis is a good place to start.

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