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Thursday June 14, 2007 7:43 pm

Summer Reality: Part Two

Top Chef

Because everything’s hotter in the summer ... whatever that means.

Another week, another boatload of new and returning reality shows.  Here are some thoughts:

As I type I’m watching The Next Best Thing, so you can tell just how into the show I am.  So, evidently, this show is about finding the greatest celebrity impersonator.  You know how everybody’s been saying that we need a new great celebrity impersonator?  Oh, wait, nobody’s been saying that at all.  The last time we had a celebrity impersonator on tv it was ... wait, don’t tell me ... oh, I remember.  It was Rich Little at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.  It was, well, just as excruciatingly awful as this show.

There was just a montage of Frank Sinatra impersonators on the show, that’s how bad it is.  Ooh, and someone just said, “I make part of my living as a Gloria Estefan impersonator.”  Evidently 0% equals a “part.”  (Okay, I had a much ruder joke in here before that seemed far less mean when I was annoyed by watching this show.  It’s gone now because, evidently, I have a desperate need to be liked.  Or at least not hated. Apologies.)

It seems to be that we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel on competitive reality shows.  Yes, networks, the world needs more singers, fashion designers, chefs, and supermodels.  But I don’t know if we need more Rich Littles and Bret Ratners (haven’t seen On The Lot, not planning to).

Actually, I do know.  We don’t.

Lest you think I’m all about bagging on summer reality shows (as I did before with Ex-Wives Club and Pirate Disaster), let me just note that some of my favorite summer shows are, in fact, reality shows.  And it seems like they are all returning this week.  Leading the pack is Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and being a straight, married man, I’m a rarity in the fan base for this show.  But I shouldn’t be.  This week Bravo broadcast both the first episode of this fantastic show, and a new stand-up special.

Gay, straight, male, female, young, old, whatevs, if you’re reading this website, you’re interested in pop culture, and if you’re interested in pop culture, you should be watching Kathy Griffin.  She uses her self-proclaimed D-List status to speak truths about celebrities and celebrity culture, and since she is part of that culture, she gets the access of celebrity with a fan’s both adoring and realistic perspective on what’s going on around her.

No, I’m not getting paid for this mini ad, but I think the show rocks, I think she’s great, and the first episode was both funny and poignant.  Watch it, folks.

Also returning, brightening my reality show hopes, are Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef.  Now, Top Chef’s starting out by doing a Season 1 vs. Season 2 challenge, so the new season officially starts next week, but the screaming, sweating, swearing, and sobbing (who was an English major in college?  Ooh, sorry, not me.  I was a theatre major.  Emphasis in writing, though) of Hell’s Kitchen is back and it’s a train-wrecky good time.

Oh, by the way, an Austin Powers impersonator just showed up on this Next Best thing nonsense.  Austin Powers isn’t really a celebrity, right?  Oh, wait, now a dance montage.  if you’re in Georgia or Tennessee, the sounds you’re hearing right now are James Brown and Elvis spinning in their respective graves.

Okay, back to the cooking shows.  Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef are the Goofus and Gallant of cooking shows.  I’ve never seen anybody on Hell’s Kitchen whom I would trust to cook my dinner.  The show’s all about Gordon yelling at people and ... it’s awesome.  It has nothing to do with cooking.  Not even a little.  There are few reality shows that can produce catch phrases that I’ll continue to use a year after I’ve heard of them, and yet as soon as I saw Hell’s Kitchen reappearing on my TiVo, my apartment was filled with shouts of “Mophead!” and “Jean Philippe!”

Everything that Hell’s Kitchen does wrong about cooking, Top Chef does right.  The food looks great, the challenges are usually interesting and smart, and the chefs are all top notch.  Now, when the personal problems start bubbling up between the chefs, it gets into an alcohol-ridden, head-shaving place of awfulness, and that’s no good.  If Top Chef sticks to the food and Hell’s Kitchen sticks to what it does best, a retirement home cook in a cowboy hat sobbing uncontrollably for example, they make a perfect pair.  Like Bacon and Eggs.  (But don’t you dare give Gail on Top Chef brown, rubbery eggs.  She f’ing hates them.)

What’s left for reality tv?  America’s Got Talent?  No interest.  So You Think You Can Dance?  I’ve been watching it because a friend of mine recommends it, but I can’t quite get behind it yet.  More in coming weeks, perhaps.

Oh, I forgot, Reunited: Real World Vegas.  I’ve seen all of one episode and ... wait, somebody’s doing a Kramer impression??  Again, these are impressions of characters, not actual people ... okay, back now, and I’ve gotta say one word: awesome.

I loved the original Real World Las Vegas a lot.  It had three-ways, drunkenness, thrown forks, drunkenness, a pregnancy scare for two very stupid pretty people, drunkenness, and Frank, the voice of the average Real World viewer, who would say things like, “Brynn is a great go-go dancer.  She should do this for the rest of her life.” (that’s not an exact quote, but it’s close).  Now MTV is bringing back the cast for two weeks, five years later, and seeing how it goes.

The first episode involved alcohol, screaming, and a he-said/she-said about who tried to hit on whom in a bathroom 4 1/2 years ago.  The Real World Kids: they never really grow up.  Thank God.

Okay, I’m off to watch the rest of this horrible show for the first and last time.  Someone’s doing a Ralph Kramden impression, which, again, a character, not a person!  Maybe I’m getting too worked up over this.  And now they’re showing Britney impersonators, and I as a viewer have to decide which one is really a dude?  I’m honestly shocked that they all aren’t drag queens.

Come to think of it, a drag queen Britney might get in less trouble than the real one.  That might be a good use for this show after all.

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Comments:

Yep, you’re both right.  It was rude and a cheap shot, so I did a little editing.

Can we at least all agree that So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy is frightening?

- David


Comments: Page 1 of 1 pages

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