Tag Archives: reality show

Scraping the bottom of the barrel with ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here!’

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!Besides the change in temperature, crappy television also signals the beginning of the summer season where writers save their wit for the fall and actually “go to there” – there being vacation. While the smart people play the suits stray away and we end up with the American revival of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here! Continue reading

Young dudes compete for The Cougar

cougar_staceyTV Land’s new series The Cougar is more along the lines of “classy” reality dating shows like The Bachelor or, most recently, Mama’s Boys instead of deliciously trashy VH1 Rock of Love-style trainwrecks. The show, hosted by Vivica Fox, follows Stacey Anderson, a self-proclaimed “cougar” who is looking to find love with a younger man. Continue reading

Model Madness

Tyra Banks of America's Next Top ModelIt seems like modeling shows are everywhere these days. VH1 has The Agency, Oxygen has The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency, and America’s Next Top Model has mutated into both another Tyra-centric season and a Australian spin-off, airing on VH1. So which of these shows are actually worth watching for the trashy reality fan?

VH1 seems to be the new home for model shows, airing The Agency, the Australian version of Top Model and marathon block reruns of the original Top Model. Sadly, every day can’t be Christmas and not all of these shows are worth checking out.

The Agency failed to impress me because I completely lost interest in everyone involved after a few minutes. There’s the bitchy lady with an accent, the guy who yells at people, and tons of stick-thin kids trying to break into the business. Still, nothing about that is inherently appealing when you consider what else is on tv. If I wanted to watch a guy tear down someone’s dreams, I have American Idol, who practically invented that formula. If I want to see someone make models cry and tell them they’re too fat to be in the business, I have the deliciously guilty pleasure of flipping over to Oxygen for The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency.

Nothing on The Agency reinvents the wheel. It’s just another behind-the-scenes show about running a business, something already saturating tv. What The Agency lacks is any sort of major competition to play up the drama for tv. There are no challenges, no elimination segments, no bonus prizes. All we’re left with is some crazy people running around an office saying that the modeling industry is tough and we’re supposed to feel that’s competition enough to captivate us.

Australia’s Next Top Model is like an artificial sweetener that can’t quite match the flavor of real sugar. The pool of contestants lacks any kind of diversity, and I don’t mean just racially. All the girls look very similar, pose the same, walk the same, and act the same. It’s hard to pick a favorite when they all seem to be carbon copies of each other. Even host Erika Henyatz lacks the egomaniacal appeal of Tyra Banks, the H.B.I.C. on the original American version of the show. Henyatz is actually supportive of the girls, giving them advice, sympathizing with them, and not desperately trying every minute to shift the focus of the show from the competition to herself like Banks does every episode. Unfortunately, this makes the show lack the guilty pleasure factor. It loses the trashy reality title and just becomes another reality show about the modeling industry.

Oxygen’s The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency, on the other hand, gives Top Model a run for it’s money in the guilty pleasure department. The show chronicles Janice Dickenson, self-proclaimed World’s First Supermodel, as she starts her own agency in California. It follows Dickenson as she recruits new models, brings in new clients, struggles to balance her more commercial models and her high-fashion division, gets into fights with her business partner, and tries to keep the agency’s head above water.

The show made the right move in focusing on the same set of models again and again because it establishes characters and favorites. You’re never staring at a line up of all new faces trying to decide whether you even care if these people land the job. Instead, you’re rooting for Stina, an exotic beauty who Dickenson has exceptionally high expectations for and constantly tears down. You’re feeling bad for Andrew when, despite his efforts, his best friend Chris keeps booking all the jobs instead. You’re even getting into the tension between the first season models and the new crop of pretty faces from season two.

While there’s no set competition, the show manages to succeed where The Agency fails because there is enough drama with Dickenson and the moody crop of models to carry the program through it’s seasons.

While Dickenson knocks it out of the park in the diva host department, there’s one guilty pleasure show that raises the bar for bitchiness. America’s Next Top Model is the OG of modeling shows.

When I think about all the modeling shows out there and what makes them succeed or stumble, the main factor is the people involved. Most of the shows follow the same formula. Hell, Australia’s Next Top Model is an exact clone, yet without the insane cast of characters, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the original. There is so much two-faced back stabbing, so much behind-the-back bitchiness, and so much drama in the house that there’s rarely a dull moment.

Especially interesting is the way the show shapes and develops it’s “characters”. In the beginning, the girls usually start out the same and Banks rules the roost with her all-about-me attitude. After a few more episodes, the claws come out and the girls start fighting in the house, tearing each other to shreds in their confessional interviews, and sabotaging each other during shoots.

This year bitchy torch has been passed to Renee, a 20-year-old stay-at-home mom from Maui. She put it best herself when asked by shoot director Jay Manuel why none of the other girls like her saying, “Because I’m a bitch.” Renee conducts herself with a bipolar demeanor that’s fascinating to watch. One minute, she’ll say that she wants to shed her bitchy image and start getting along with the other models. Then the next she’ll tell plus-sized contestant Whitney that there will never be a fat girl as the next top model or criticize Latina beauty Jaslene for being too perfect. The best part about Renee’s psychotic mood swings is the way they do nothing but reveal how jealous and insecure she truly is. It’s more transparent then when a five-year-old tells you they don’t know who drew in crayon all over the wall.

Still, even though contestants like Renee and Jael, a quirky punk rock girl, are fun to watch, the real reason Top Model is so much fun is because of Banks herself. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t know that I’ll ever get tired of watching her spin every single subject into a Trya-centric rant about how fantastic she is or how much she has done for black women, modeling, the world, etc. She seems to think of herself as some kind of modeling Martin Luther King Jr.

The “inspiration” she offers to the girls consists of stories about herself and how she “overcame” her own struggles. All her tips involve striking a pose herself and then instructing, “Do it like me.” Even on episodes where she’s supposed to meet with the girls one-on-one for a cry-fest, she manages to turn their personal troubles into a story about how great she thinks she is. Witnessing her ego growing to epic proportions is absolutely astounding, and it’s hard to look away. It’s made especially fun because I keep wondering when one of the models will snap and say, “Could you stop talking about yourself for five minutes?!”

Top Model is the top of the line in guilty pleasure reality shows. It’s completely addictive, but you don’t want anyone to know you watch it. The very idea of tuning in and supporting Banks’ shrine to herself could turn anyone’s stomach, but the models, the photo shoots, and the tension of the competition are enough to keep anyone watching. It may only fuel her gargantuan ego, but Banks’ Top Model is definitely the best model show on tv.

LaToya Jackson stars in "Armed and Famous"

LaToya’s got a gun!

LaToya Jackson stars in “Armed and Famous”Ok, you know how I said The Surreal Life Fame Games was the greatest celebreality show on TV? Well that was before I saw the premiere episode of Armed and Famous on CBS. The race for the most outrageous celebrity reality challenge is heating up with this new contender.

In the first episode, the cast arrived in Muncie, Indiana to being their training in hopes of becoming official police officers. First to appear was Erik Estrada, then LaToya Jackson, followed by Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus and Jason Acuna. They began their journey with a briefing by Sgt. Rick Eber, who informed them that their celebrity status meant nothing in the mean streets of Muncie.

Next up, the gang got an overview on safety and learned about dangerous scenarios by doing mock traffic stops. Each cast member was outfitted with a fake gun and told to pull over an officer pretending to be a suspect. Estrada took the job a bit too seriously and started barking at the man like he was a wanted murderer when the scenario was only for a routine traffic ticket. Osbourne excelled at the task by staying on his toes and jumping into action when the fake perp pulled a gun. Jackson wasn’t so sharp and she panicked and emptied a clip into the man as he was attempting to comply with her orders. This lead the training officers to proclaim, “Jackson shot an unarmed man!” and caused me to laugh for 20 minutes.

It only got better after the commercial break when the celebrities were learning to use their tasers. Apparently the rule in Indiana is that you can only posses a taser is you have been tased yourself. In what seemed like some awful frat initiation, each celebrity lined up to be tased by an officer of the Muncie police department. They were given the option of being shocked with clip on wires or being shot with the little metal spikes that the police normally use. Osbourne was up first and he opted for the less painful clips. Even with the clips, the shock was strong enough to knock him on his knees for a while. One by one the rest of the crew got ready to take their tasing. Soon, Jackson stepped up for her turn.

At this point, I nearly lost it. I was laughing so hard already that I almost blew a funny fuse, but the idea of seeing LaToya Jackson getting tased on national TV was more than I could handle. I had to pause it for a minute and regain my composure before I could actually watch the scene.

She got ready and they fired up the taser. She screamed like Michael in the “Smooth Criminal” video and then collapsed to the floor. Being the crazy lady that she is, she then turned it into a big production, complete with shortness of breath and strained speech. Everyone stopped for a moment to ask her if she was alright. Of course, she was fine and they moved on the the next celeb.

While all the other celebrities opted for the clips, Trish Stratus proved that she’s a tough cookie and opted to be shot with the little metal spikes. She lined up and they shot her, sending her to her knees as well. She quickly recovered and was back on her feet and smiling seconds later, making all the guys in the group feel like total pussies.

After recovering, the recruits were ready to move on to the next lesson, but not before LaToya decided to make a phone call to her brother Jackie. I can only imagine the look on Jackie’s face when he picked up the phone to hear, “Hi! I’m in Muncie, Indiana and I’m training to be a cop!” LaToya looked around confused as there was a long pause from the other end. Jackie proceeded to ask her why she was doing this and whether their parents knew about it. She explained her motivations and begged him not to tell their mother about it. All this was coming from a 50 year old woman, mind you. I can only hope that every episode gives us little glimpses like this into the kookiness that is the Jackson family.

Later on the celebs learned to use real weapons. Osbourne again lead the class with his marksmanship and Jackson was again in the bottom. At one point, she emptied an entire clip at the cut-out target and her instructor remarked that, “There’s eleven bullets that aren’t even on this target.”

The show was so filled with priceless moments that it’s impossible to even capture it all in this blog. Just know that I had to immediately watch it again after it ended because I just couldn’t believe my eyes. This might be one of the most outrageous and amazing things to ever air on television. I can only pray that every episode is as awesome as the first one.

If I had to pick one little clip that could sum up the episode I’d pick this one:
During training for hand-to-hand combat, Jackson was paired up with Osbourne for a scenario using pressure points on the neck. She grabbed his neck with one hand and applied the pressure to the side of his neck with her other hand. He flailed around and then grabbed his neck in pain before saying in terror, “LaToya is scaring the hell out of me!” That just goes to show you how terrifying the Jackson clan is; they scare the hell out of Jack Osbourne, son of the Prince of Darkness.

If you are a fan of trashy reality shows, you simply cannot miss Armed and Famous. You can find out more about the show at cbs.com/primetime/armed_and_famous and check out episodes and extras on CBS’s Innertube Player.