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Thursday July 5, 2007 11:48 am

Reality Recap - The Best & Worst of June

Celebrity Fit Club

Now that we’ve said goodbye to June and its 30 days of weddings, trips to the beach, and the slow, crippling realization that it’s still a long, long time until comes back, why don’t we take a few minutes and look back at the best and worst of June reality TV?  Nope, that was a rhetorical question.  Yes, I know, there are lots of reasons not to look back, and yet I’m going to do it anyway.

Oh, and it doesn’t really fit here because it’s not a reality show, but Flight of the Conchords on HBO is pretty hilarious.  I don’t really have enough to say about it to write a full column, obviously, but it’s definitely worth checking out.  Okay, here we go…

Worst “Improvement” of a Reality Show: MTV’s MADE morphing into SuperMADE.  This one just got in under the wire, with a marathon of SuperMADE airing on the night of the 30th, but it definitely wins this prize hands down.  MADE was, at one time, one of my favorite reality shows.  It took fairly nice kids (with a few exceptions) and tried to boost their self esteem and help them live out a dream.  It was compelling and feel-good without being treacly.  Sometimes it didn’t quite work, but when it did (like Kitty, who went from supernerd to stunning beauty queen) it was a fantastic show.

So SuperMADE comes out and it’s just ... horrible.  The first two episodes were competitions among two or three people vying for the same goal (landing a role on a soap opera, playing in a battle of the bands) and that’s not what MADE’s all about.  It’s supposed to be one person doing everything he or she can to achieve a goal.  I’m supposed to root for the one person, not choose sides.  Also, the three girls in the first episode think that doing funny voices to annoy others qualifies as “acting,” and I wasn’t really rooting for any of them.

The last episode of SuperMADE had just one person.  Phew, much better.  Except wait, it’s Diem from Real World/Road Rules challenge.  And, don’t get me wrong, I really like Diem, and I think her story on that show was terrific but ... well, it was the same feeling I had when Svetlana from Real World was on My Super Sweet 16.  It just felt wrong and weird, like when Helen Hunt showed up on that one episode of Friends.  MADE is for unknown kids living a dream, not people I already know from other shows on your network, MTV.

Worst Male on a Reality Show: Dustin Diamond on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club.  The vote wasn’t even close on this one (mostly because I’m the only one voting, but still).  I said it about Chris Sligh when he was on American Idol and I’ll say it now: You can’t be on the show and too cool for the show at the same time.  Pick one.

Worst Female on a Reality Show: Ooh, and it’s a tie between Larissa (aka Bootz) from Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School and Brooke (aka Pumkin) from, yes, Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.  As I may have mentioned before, I’m utterly befuddled by this show and I have no idea if it’s accomplished anything besides getting a new house for Saaphyri (aka the girl who got kicked off of Flavor of Love 2 for fighting about five seconds after getting into the house).  We did, however, learn that Larissa and Brooke are two remarkably unpleasant people to be around, and that will be helpful when I send out invitations to my annual End of Summer/Reality Stars Party.

Best Use of Possibly Crazy People for My Entertainment: Pirate Master.  Every week, the conversation in my apartment about Pirate Master goes something like this:

My Beautiful Wife: You’re still watching this show?
Me: I need something to write about.

But, to be honest, I just want to see who goes a little bonkers next.  Who will use a fake British accent?  Who will refer to himself in the third person?  Who will compare her mundane everyday job to piracy?  Who will take the pirate thing a little too far and think he now has a shot with Keira Knightley?

The runner up in this category is, of course, Hell’s Kitchen for the casting of Aaron, who seemed to be cracking up the minute he started on the show.  He fainted, he cried, he had to have people help him with his pants, he ended up in the hospital and got fired by Gordon Ramsey over the phone (in the fakest looking phone call since ... well, any episode of The Apprentice where Trump talked on the phone).  It was glorious.

Best Way to Make Me Curse at the Television: My Super Sweet 16.  Really, any episode will do it.  For example, when Audrey had a hissy fit because her mom gave her a new Lexus convertible but didn’t give it to her on the day of her party ... well, I was reminded of the time when I turned sixteen and was allowed to drive the powder blue gigantic Cutlass Cierra that used to belong to my grandparents and then was handed down to my sister (who blew out the speakers, which she’ll deny, but come on, it’s not like my grandparents were blasting Glenn Miller).  I thought of getting that third-hand car and how happy I was to have anything to drive and I let out a stream of profanities at the television.

But the most recent episode of the show allowed me to mock Cleveland, which always makes me feel good because I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  Come to think of it, there were probably profanities involved in that mocking too.  So the award fits.

Best Way to Make My Beautiful Wife Curse at the Television: So You Think You Can Dance.  Not because she doesn’t like the show.  In fact, she really likes it and currently remains the only reason I still watch it.  The object of her profanity?  Mary Murphy.  Mary seems okay for a while, like it’s all going to be smooth sailing and judging dancers will be as easy as pie.

Then Mary will scream out some sort of Paula Abdul-esque word salad and make crazy noises and this will shock my beautiful wife into profanity.  And then my beautiful wife will rewind it and play it two or three more times just to make sure that it actually happened.  It makes me enjoy the show more, anyway.

Most Inexplicable Moment: Boy Shakira on America’s Got Talent.  I can’t explain it; you just have to see it.  I mean, I saw it and yet ... I still don’t quite get it.  He’s doing a Shakira impression by sort of dancing and not singing?  And that got him through to the next round?  I guess.

But the upside is that his mother gave me a new catch phrase: “I am Boy Shakira mom.”  It doesn’t really make sense either (especially if you don’t know who Boy Shakira is), but at least I get some enjoyment out of it.

Best New Reality Show: Confessions of a Matchmaker.  This is a great show.  As someone who did online dating for a while and went on a lot of bad dates (some my fault, some not so much), it’s great to see somebody hitting people in the head and telling them all the stupid things they’re doing wrong in looking for a potential mate.  Plus it’s made me appreciate the climate in which I live by reminding me of the weather I used to experience in Upstate NY.  Patty’s fantastic and I’ve enjoyed every episode of the show.  Check it out.

The runner up for this one is Big Medicine on TLC.  Not the most high profile show (it’s about father and son surgeons who primarily do bariatric surgery, aka gastric bypass), but really worth watching.  It’s structured, so far, with three cases each episode, typically one patient contemplating going through surgery, one patient who gets the surgery during the episode and we see a few months later, and one patient who has lost a lot of weight and goes in for plastic surgery on excess skin.  If you can’t stand watching surgery on tv, it gets a little graphic, but otherwise a really smart, interesting show.  I, oddly, have nothing snarky to say about it.

Best Returning Reality Show Episode:  Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.  A very good show has gotten even better this season.  It’s an odd thing when you think about it: Kathy’s striving to improve her station fame-wise, but she explains all the machinations of the entertainment industry to us, the audience, which means Kathy’s going to have future problems when entertainment industry people see the show.  It does, however, make for great television, and it’s funny and sad, honest and sarcastic, and just a fantastic show.

The very close second (and it might be tied for first by the end of its season) is Top Chef.  The casting seems to be pretty strong for this season, and, thankfully, they’ve kicked out the very annoying Micah.  At its best, this show makes me, at different points, hungry, angry, and happy (since I couldn’t come up with another “-gry” word).  It’s the strongest competitive reality show out there and, geoduct clams or not, I dig it.



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