Reality TV is in trouble. The Situation is in rehab, America’s alcoholism mascot Snooki is pregnant, and there are only two shows left on the air worthy of inclusion in the GRTFL. With this in mind, I’ve decided to change it up this week and take you with me on my deep dive into the creepy/scary triple-digit section of your channel guide in search of new shows to celebrate in future columns. I spent the whole week sifting through endless hours of hoarding, cooking, rehabbing, building, destroying, partying, arguing, driving, swamping, dancing, parenting, storing, eating, puking, and RuPauling in an attempt at finding a digital nugget of reality TV gold. To be honest, I enjoyed the shit out of it. It was so exhilarating/depressing, I decided that every week I will go in on at least one new show and share with you my thoughts on it.
Here are some of the shows that I shame-spiraled into this week. I considered letting you know if you should watch them or not, but really, you shouldn’t watch any of them. You SHOULD raise your kids, or study, or clean, or write poetry, or volunteer, or learn Swahili. You should not watch these television shows.
Title: The Vanilla Ice Project
Network: Do It Yourself (Yeah, man, there really is a network called “Do It Yourself”)
Premise: Vanilla Ice fixes up houses for resale.
My Take: First thing I want to do is acknowledge the fact that I am forcing myself to write this paragraph without citing any Vanilla Ice lyrics. That would be too hacky, even for me. I would also like to acknowledge that this is the biggest challenge I have given myself since the day news spread of Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks nude photos on the web and I forced myself not to look at them on my work computer. That was a long day. Anyway, all you need to know about this show is in 'Nilla’s read under the opening credits, “My name is Rob. You may know me as Vanilla Ice. Back in the '90s, my hip hop record became the fastest selling record of all time. And it still is. And I still am Vanilla Ice. When I am not touring around the world, I am here in Palm Beach making money in real estate. I. Flip. Houses.” Remember when you loved Vanilla Ice? C’mon, don’t lie, you totally loved Vanilla Ice. How could you not? The guy was dating Madonna and pulled off the “Word to Your Motha” jacket. Now Vanilla Ice goes by “Rob” and bros his way around Palm Beach working a glorified construction job. I would love to make fun of 'Nilla and his new life as a handyman. Matter of fact, I full-on intended to make fun of ‘Nilla and his new life when I decided to watch this show, but something strange happened around the midway point of the second episode: I fell back in love with Vanilla Ice. He is just a humble, regular, hardworking dude that wants to pick a nice wallpaper for the bathroom and get the damn travertine to dry before the bathtub gets in.
Seriously, how much fun would it be to have seven beers with Vanilla Ice and get him to tell stories? What does Vanilla Ice think about Eminem? Has he talked to Suge Knight in the last 20 years? What was he thinking with Pickin Scabz? What is Vanilla Ice’s favorite soup? Vanilla Ice, you have an open invite to visit the Grantland offices; we’ll hire you to redecorate the conference room or something.
Will this show be included in the GRTFL?: No. That would mean I would actually have to watch it and take notes and stuff. That’s crazy talk.
Title: Shahs of Sunset
Premise: Super-wealthy Persians in L.A. do shit that super-wealthy Persians in L.A. do.
My Take: Ryan Seacrest? Just stop it, dude. Seriously, stop it. First you infected us all with the Kardashians, then you were dubbed “the future of media” by friggin' Fortune Magazine, and now you are making me watch Shahs of Sunset? You are the Krispy Kreme of content creation. I hacked into Ryan Seacrest’s phone and have a transcript of the Shahs pitch to Bravo:
- Ryan Seacrest: Hey, Andy Cohen, it’s me, Ry Ry. I have a new show for Bravo called Shahs of Sunset — it is about a group of wealthy Persians that live in L.A.
Andy Cohen: Persians, huh? Are they hateable?
Ryan Seacrest: Yep, super hateable.
Andy Cohen: Will the audience love hating them like they do Housewives of Atlanta or really hate them like they do Housewives of Orange County?
Ryan Seacrest: Love hating them.
Andy Cohen: Is there an alcoholic?
Ryan Seacrest: Yeah, this chick M.J., she drank two shots of paint thinner in the pilot.
Andy Cohen: What about fights? Do they fight?
Ryan Seacrest: All the time. In the second episode, this one chick yells, “I SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS A WEEK SHOPPING!” in the middle of an argument for no reason whatsoever.
Andy Cohen: Ry Ry, if I green-light this show, will you tell me once and for all if those rumors about Simon Cowell's sex life are true? I keep hearing these rumors
Ryan Seacrest: No.
Andy Cohen: Please? I’ll sign for a second season sight unseen.
Ryan Seacrest: No chance, Andy.
Andy Cohen: Fine, one season only, then.
Ryan Seacrest: Deal. I'll have my people start drawing up the paperwork.
The show is really nothing special. It is just the latest example of the reality TV show formula du jour: Rich Folks + Plastic Surgery + Alcohol + Argument = Television Show. The highlights of the first couple episodes include M.J. sneak-puking in a nightclub, this girl Anita not going in the pool because her bathing suit is too expensive, and the presence of a joyous man named Reza. Check out Reza in this clip — there is nothing I can say about Reza that can describe how quickly you go from loathing him to loving him. He openly owns his disgusting superficialocity to the point where you end up just going with him on it even though he is making vile statement after vile statement. I love him. If I could get Reza, Vanilla Ice, and Redman to have a bowl of soup with me I would die of happiness right there at the table.
Will this show be included in the GRTFL?: Nope. I could not write about this show every week without offending someone and getting fired. I barely made it through this little summary.
Title: Brooklyn 11223
Premise: “Let’s make Jersey Shore in Brooklyn!”
My Take: When Jersey Shore punched the world in the face with a look into their boozy, bronzed subculture, everyone assumed we would be inundated with Jersey Shore knockoff shows. There was talk of a Boston version, a Russian version, an Asian version, and so on. Then a weird thing happened — none of the shows made it. Sure, there was that Geordie Shore thing, but nothing Stateside materialized until now. Brooklyn 11223 is the story of six or seven twentysomething ladies in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bay Ridge is in real Brooklyn where people from Brooklyn live — it's not in “I Just Want My Pants Back” Brooklyn. The show is focused on childhood BFFs Christie and Joey Lynn. These two were the best of buddies until a controversial evening in which Joey Lynn allegedly coitused Christie’s then-boyfriend Roberto. You might think that this one alleged transgression of girl code isn’t going to provide enough drama to fuel an entire season of a reality show, but as the episode goes on there are accusations that:
- A. Christie was in the room encouraging it to happen.
B. There was a third girl in the room.
C. Christie was only upset because she wasn’t in the room when it went down.
Most of these accusations get thrown around the office of Nicky’s Auto Glass. The dudes that work at Nicky’s Auto Glass are so damn entertaining that I want to buy a car, drive it to Brooklyn, and smash all the windows just so I have an excuse to interact with them. They are like Click and Clack x Uncle Nino x Wendy Williams x four Coronas. I love them. The debut episode climaxes when “Joey Lynn’s Crew” and “Christie’s Crew” get into a “get your hand out of my face” “No bitch, get your hand out of MY face” argument on a Coney Island beach. There is an authenticity to this group that makes the Jersey Shore cast look like the bridge-and-tunnel tourists they are. They aren’t trying to be anything that they're not, they aren’t creating a “brand” for themselves, they aren’t famous. They are just doing their thing. And their thing is gossiping about Joey Lynn, drinking Coronas around a backyard pool, and dishing out ignorant soundbites at a clip that forced me to drag out the ol’ GRTFL top five.
This week’s top five is the top five quotes from Brooklyn 11223 that made the Jersey Shore cast realize they had just been replaced — listed from “No big deal” to “Snooki who?”:
- 5. “I am full Italian. And I am from bleeping Brooklyn so I have no problem bleeping someone up.” —Valona
4. “I love what I do. I love to socialize, so I fit in really well in here.” (The “here” she is referring to is a gentlemen’s club) —Carla
3. “I don’t care if you are a guy or a girl, hemale, shemale, female, I will knock you the bleep out.” —Valona
2. This exchange:
- Christie’s boyfriend Matthew: “What is talking to him going to do?”
Christie: “What is fighting with him going to do?”
Christie’s boyfriend Matthew: [Confused silence]
1. “The only Muslims that I know are, ya know, Muslims from Islam or something.” —Amanda
When Snooki or Deena make similar statements you get the feeling that they're calculated, tongue-in-cheek attempts to stay in character. When the Brooklyn 11223 gang makes these statements you get the feeling that they legitimately think there is a place where Muslims live called Islam.
Will this show be included in the GRTFL?: 100 percent. Now I just have to make up some dumb rules, find someone to score it, and listen to Bill bitch about not getting the first pick in the supplemental draft. He always bitches about not getting the first pick.
Don’t for a second think I’m going to skip recapping the scoring from this week. I’m not that lazy.
Johnny and Camilla (The Challenge, Lisanti), 15 and 10 points: Johnny Bananas after winning the final “Dome” (10 points) and turning his attention to the final challenge: “Whatever it is, it will be the biggest triumph we have ever completed in our entire lives.” TJ Lavin on the final challenge: “Super gnarly challenge, man.” Yes TJ, super gnarly indeed. Every year the level of physical, emotional, and mental torture that they put the remaining alcopsychoholics through in order to obtain a cash prize gets more and more “gnarly.” This year they flew them to some place in Iceland called Langjokull Glacier where it is -23 degrees out and the sun shines for like three hours a day. When they were scouting locations, I swear the producers just Googled “worst place on earth” and booked tickets immediately. So far, we have only seen them complete the first part of the event and already they've dog sledded for a mile, jogged a couple miles, jumped in a river that was -1.1 degrees (5 unintentional nudity points for Bananas), and slept in a tent on a glacier. I swear next year TJ is going to hand them each a saw, look them right in the eye, and say, “In order to get the prize money this year you have to remove your pinky finger with this saw, eat it, throw it back up, eat it again, and then run a marathon while covered in killer bees. Good luck.”
Oh yeah, almost forgot, as if jumping in a freezing river and sleeping on a damn glacier wasn’t embarrassing enough, they named the final challenge Viking Quest. Why did they do that? Because Johnny is suing HBO for using the moniker “Johnny Bananas” in Entourage. Bananas, if you need legal assistance I would be happy to represent you in court. I have like three suits that I never get to wear and can’t think of a better occasion to break one of ‘em out. I got you.
Evelyn (Basketball Wives, Connor), 10 points: Things that have been used as a weapon during altercations on Basketball Wives: cocktails, cocktail glasses, heels, hair weaves, chairs, and now a purse. Basketball Wives are nothing if not resourceful, and Evelyn is the MacGyver of maliciousness. After seven or eight hundred drinks at Shaunie’s birthday dinner she gave a teary toast that included, “I will forever be here for you because I am that bitch” (5 points), and later turned her attention to frenemy Jennifer Williams and gave a second toast that included, “And don’t be writing lies about our friends on no blogs!” This launched the argument (5 points) that launched the purse attack that launched a catchphrase insult.
While Evelyn was being removed from the restaurant she screamed, “You ain’t about this life! You ain’t about this life! You ain’t about this life!” I can’t tell if this is a death threat, an insult about Jennifer’s lack of class, or an existential meditation. I do know that it just replaced “You don’t know me” as my default “thing to scream as I want my friends to hold me back because I am too scared to actually fight someone.” YOU AIN'T ABOUT THIS LIFE!
CT (The Challenge, House), 5 points: What happened to CT? He scored five points for unintentional nudity this week, but he also went from Jeffrey Dahmer to Dr. Phil in one Challenge season. CT a mere season ago: “I’ll rip your bleeping face off and eat it!” CT to his teammate Diem this week: “The final isn’t about how much you can squat or who can do the most push-ups. It is about heart, you know. And I have the trump card because you have the biggest heart.” He used to say things that you would find prison-tattooed on bikers and now he says things that you would find on a Hallmark card.
Emily (The Challenge, Lisanti), 5 points: Emily cried this week (5 points) when Ty said to her, “Emily, you are the best person I have met outside of my immediate family.” I really thought that instead of “outside my immediate family” he was going to finish with “that smeared chocolate all over her face and mocked me.” I was wrong. Weird.
Suzie (Basketball Wives, House), 5 points: This episode, Suzie got in an argument with Tami at Shaunie’s birthday dinner and also traveled to North Carolina to meet Kesha’s family. Kesha is from a part of North Carolina where they say things like, “My grandma’s brother married my grandpa’s sister. So those kids are called double first cousins. So my mom is double first cousins with Lisa and her three sisters. It is as close as you can be without being sisters And it is not incestuous in any way.“ WHAT? DOUBLE FIRST COUSINS!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!??!!? If you ever find yourself in a situation where the people around you are explaining how they are related and they finish with “And it’s not incestuous in any way.” Get the fuck out of there. Stat.
Tami (Basketball Wives, Simmons), 5 points: Tami yelled at Suzie. I don’t remember why, but I do remember that it didn’t finish with her yelling, “You ain’t about this life! You ain’t about this life! You ain’t about this life!” Which brings to mind the ancient riddle, “If an argument doesn’t end with 'you ain’t about this life!,' was it even an argument at all?" No. No it was not.