Full disclosure, I am mailing this one in. I'm on vacation and didn’t plan on doing the GRTFL this week but there was so much asinine shit to joke about in reality TV I just couldn’t pass it up. But before we get to all of that, I learned two big travel tips that I wanted to share: (1) If you are married and traveling together, tell everyone it’s your honeymoon — upgrades all over the place. (2) If you are planning a trip to a beach location, whatever you do, make sure it doesn’t coincide with Discovery’s Shark Week. After watching a bajillion shark attacks on TV, I am not even comfortable going into the deep end of the hotel pool. And for all those people that are all, “Humans aren’t even part of a shark's natural diet, what is there to worry about?” Of course humans aren’t a part of a shark's natural diet, WE DON’T LIVE IN THE WATER! Lobster isn’t a part of my natural diet, but I will tear one up like a savage if you put it in front of me. We are a rare delicious delicacy to sharks. Never go in the ocean again.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on a busy week in reality TV, a little shorter than usual, but let’s be honest, these columns are too long anyway.
Of all the reality television dinosaurs, The Real World is maybe my third favorite, behind the friendly brontosaurus Survivor and the reliably mean T. rex American Idol. At its best, the flexible format and the world's endless supply of virgins with weird backstories make for an interesting social experiment (see: Hollywood's Greg Halstead with his "peasants" and "associates"; New Orleans's Ryan Leslie with his homophobia and inventive new uses for hair dryers). The compulsory employment, introduced in Season 5 (this season, everybody's working at an aquarium called Coral World — the aquarium has been used as a metaphor for the show for like 20 seasons; remember that crappy poem from Real World: San Francisco?), provides the only real structure for the show. Its watchability hinges almost entirely on its cast: You don't have to have any vested interest in housewife culture or assimilated Gypsies to enjoy it, because there's usually someone to identify with no matter what your bag happens to be. I ran into Puck at the Studio City farmers market two years ago and remembered how influential he was on my junior high school's loogie-hawking scene, and I can't hear "Goodnight, Irene" without my brain reflexively playing the words "because you're a homosexual, Stephen" over it, with a slapping noise.
I’m not going to lie to you: This was a shitty week in reality TV. First, there is the fact that Big Ang, the “classy” ladies of Mama Drama, and Joseline of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta are all not in my living room because the suits from Viacom and DirecTV can’t make a deal. Suits, get something done soon; I need these people in my life. Second, it seemed like every show in the GRTFL decided to mail it in this week. The Bachelorette was the let’s-squeeze-another-episode-out-of-this-franchise "Men Tell All" snoozefest; the most exciting event on Real Housewives of New York City was a woman putting her face in a bidet; and the Real World cast is so boring that the producers centered this entire episode around a dead fish. There is good news, though: I have just as much fun making fun of boring reality television as I do compelling reality TV, so you're in for a treat. Let’s hit up the top scorers:
We decided it was time to turn our standard office conversations into a podcast. Reality tsar David Jacoby invited me to the podcast studio to talk about who Emily will choose on The Bachelorette, why I hate Laura from The Real World, the new royalty on the Real Housewives of New York, and whether Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta is even television at all. (Still unclear on that one.) And if you're not excited already, we also ponder the hypothetical, beautiful union of LeRoy (from Real World: Las Vegas) and Team USA, and our favorite Real Husband of Beverly Hills. This is for you, reality TV fans.