Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday Night Television Extravaganza doesn't usually hurt this much.

I never had any intention of watching Bromance and I wasn't particularly optimistic about The City, but Ed and I are in the habit of watching a week's worth of television every Monday night, and since none of our normal shows were on, we sort of wandered over to MTV and got sucked in by the combined horror of Brody Jenner and Whitney Port.

I only saw the second half of Bromance, but that was so much more than enough. I've grown accustomed to watching flimsy young women primp and prance in a desperate, clumsy struggle to win the favor of the resident queen bee. It's always pathetic, but it's such a common phenomenon, I think we're all inured to it at this point. Seeing guys do the same thing, though...well, it's new, which makes it harder to stomach. Watching Brody Jenner luxuriate in the role of the queen bee was creepy, to say the least. He's adopted Paris Hilton's "tell me I'm pretty and bask in my reflected glamor" shtick, which is weird enough to begin with, but he's thrown in a strong emphasis on objectifying women, naturally.

So last night, the competing "bros" were challenged to wrangle two sufficiently attractive women in order to gain access to a nightclub. Once they made it into the party, each was required to give a toast, celebrating Brody's general awesomeness. Later, Brody reclined in a large jacuzzi and arranged his potential "bros" in a row, pressed shirtlessly shoulder to shoulder in the water. He evaluated each "bro" based on some vague criteria and cast the least desirable "bro" out of the house, ostensibly because the rejected "bro" was a sloppy drunk, but really because his fedora and facial hair made everyone want to punch him in the face. (Myself included.)

The familiar fusion of homoeroticism, hyper-masculinity and misogyny is always revolting, but Bromance really takes it to a new level. It made me sad and embarrassed for men, and also sad and embarrassed for women. So many women are taught to believe that their value lies solely in their sexual appeal, and men have learned to believe that their value is determined by their ability to lure said sexually appealing women. So here we have a cadre of meatheads competing to demonstrate their sexy women luring abilities in order to win the love of another man. Gross, and not an entertaining kind of gross. Just gross.

As for The City, I didn't have high hopes for Whitney's ability to carry a show, because she is so very boring. But I thought there might be potential for the other characters to be interesting. I miss New York, and I miss the sort of people one tends to find in New York, and I thought I might enjoy watching New York people do New York things. But instead of making the premise more entertaining, the setting actually made The City far more difficult to watch. On The Hills, all the awkwardness and the tension and the fighting is silly and cute. It's like watching kittens fight. On The City, though, it's like we went from playful kittens to middle school mean girls, which is considerably more upsetting and less fun.

And, as I wrote last night during the show, I think that these new characters are just too self-conscious to make the staged reality format work. Lauren Conrad has a genuine talent for being utterly herself on camera. She doesn't seem to consider how she is being portrayed, or how she might intentionally skew the narrative. The other characters on The Hills do attempt to exert control over the storyline, but they are so laughably inept that reality shines through. The City, I think, will probably always feel less real and more staged, because the characters are so obviously thinking about how they wish to present themselves, and how they might secure a larger role and more time on screen.

Fortunately, Gossip Girl is back next week. Oh, and speaking of which...Olivia Palermo, you will never be Blair Waldorf! You can be pretty and rich and bitchy and wear headbands all you want, but we love Blair because she is witty and interesting, which I doubt you will ever achieve.

1 comment:

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks for watching these shows so I didn't have to.