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Keeping it Real in 2009

2009 is well on its way, and so far I couldn’t be more thrilled with what the year promises in television. In addition to the season premiers of Big Love and Flight of the Conchords to look forward to on HBO in this Saturday, I’ve really been drawn back into an old love this year: MTV reality television. I’ve always been a fan of The Real World (really, the original “reality” show) but have fallen off in recent years because what started out as a mildly interesting non-scripted soap opera turned into a bunch of attractive idiots getting drunk and screaming at each other. Do you hate people who are different from you? Do you look like an Abercrombie model? Welcome to The Real World! Similarly, I used to really love The Hills (don’t judge me) but lately I’ve opted for less obviously scripted wealthy kids drama (aka Gossip Girl). However, the two new Hills spin-offs, Brody Jenner’s Bromance and Whitney Port’s The City have already been a million times more entertaining. Sorry, LC.

Holy cats, why do I enjoy Bromance so much?? I really shouldn’t have been able to make it through even one episode, and yet I find it on my weekly list of regularly watched programs. Why?? I suppose, in part, it’s because Brody Jenner is so good looking. And maybe I like watching him sort of laugh at all the douche bags who want to be his friend. He seems to have a sense of humor about the show and about himself, which is nice. Also, as Qualler pointed out, we are learning from the show that not all douchebags are the same—they each have their own unique annoying personalities. They’re real people…just like us. And they have feelings (sort of). In fact, most of the would-be bros have already cried. In each episode, Brody and his friends come up with hilarious challenges for the bros and each episode some has to cry. I'm not exactly sure why running down a slip-and-slide elicits heartfelt emotions about family tragedy or causes one to relive a painful experience...but these challenges really get to the bros. And each time someone loses it, you can watch Brody surpress his laughter and attempt to console the injured party. Of course Ryan Seacrest was behind this...

The City
Perhaps I just prefer the young, wealthy, and fabulous living in New York to the young, wealthy, and fabulous living in LA? Or maybe MTV did a better job this time of surrounding their pretty boring main character, Whitney, with interesting and dynamic people (at least by comparison). Or maybe (and most likely) the novelty of new characters and a new city just hasn’t worn off yet. Whatever the reason, I’m really enjoying The City. It’s sort of like watching an issue of Vogue, since it’s mostly just good looking people wearing the latest trends. In fact, I really think that almost any still taken from this “reality” series would make an excellent high fashion spread, which is both ridiculous and wonderful. I still prefer Gossip Girl by about a million times, but this is a really nice show to watch while painting my nails or flipping through a magazine or doing the dishes. I also like to keep up on what the kids are wearing these days. It’s funny—if you watching something like The City or The Hills and approach it as a glamorous reality show, it seems like these people are all just so beautiful. If, on the other hand, you look at it as a low-budget, poorly written scripted drama, it would be unbearable, because no one can act, the twists and turns area actually pretty boring, and you can’t even always tell what people are saying. One thing I love about MTV, though, is its ability to reveal so much with just a look. Really, MTV has some terrific editors working on these shows. Each scene had very little dialogue, but thanks to the music playing and the incredible editing of people making what, in a real time version of that conversation, no facial expression at all, I know exactly what's happening in each scene. And in case I'm wondering what cool tune I'm listening to that's letting me know what the characters are feeling, MTV has me covered by scrolling the name of the song, artist, and album title, and where I can download it on their website at the bottom of the screen during that scene.

The Real World: Brooklyn
Ok, so I have yet to watch an actual episode of the newest season of The Real World..I've only seen clips on The Soup. But the clip I saw of two bros (sensing a theme here? You can't really have an MTV show without bros...) sitting together in a boat, playing guitar and singing to each other was enough to get me interested. I typically save my Real World viewing for vacation day marathons, but now that my Wednesday nights lack America's Next Top Model (why Tyra!!! Why take this away from me?!?!) I think I just might give The Real World at least a couple of weeks*. This season features a post-op transgendered individual, and I for one am really greatful to Tyra for paving the way for all transgendered people who want to break into reality television. I guess even when ANTM isn't on the air, her pop culture influence can be seen in 2009.

*Reader should note that I did not end up giving this show a couple weeks. I did watch it for about 10 minutes before deciding that my time would be better spent watching old episodes of
Bevery Hills, 90210 on DVD. Maybe I'll try again next week.

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  1. Blogger chris | 9:23 AM |  

    How long do you think they can follow the Laguna Beach kids with various shows? Will we have "The Suburbs" when they start having kids?

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