Thanks, Barbara. Glad to be a Red Sox fan. That's hockey, no?
For those of you not wise enough to quit reading this blog while Barbara suns herself, I look forward to sharing my deeply spiritual, Protestant insight. After a week of me, everyone will flock to Mass.
Let's start with my views on reality shows, since I've worked on four of them. You could call me "an insider," though you'd probably be the only one.
Reality TV offends me to the core. I'm a comedy writer living in a fallen, Punk'd world. Everyone (besides TV execs) knows that the reality genre is of the devil.
I’m not talking about classy shows like “The Amazing Race” or “American Idol” or the exciting new season of “Survivor: Des Moines.” I’m speaking of shows where Jerry Hall shuttles between a British and Texan accent, choosing a "kept man" or where someone gets an hour of tattoos on The Learning Channel.
If reality TV has convicted me of one spiritual truth this summer, it’s this: As a pro-lifer, I need to remember that even Pauly Shore’s life has dignity.
Instead of paying me to write sitcoms, Hollywood thinks its cheaper paying twentysomething hardbodies minimum wage to remove their underclothes in a hot tub. Clearly, they haven’t seen how cheap I'll work.
Having said this, I must admit: I LOVE REALITY SHOWS IN THE SUMMERTIME. Summer has always been filled with boring re-runs, except for historic 7/11/91 when FOX chose to air the heavily-sideburned “Beverly Hills 90210.” Good times. Anyone currently between the ages of 27-33 can give me two Brandon Walsh fist-pumps, perfectly timed to a break in the theme song.
Last summer, I leased my soul to Satan and decided to work as a casting director for reality TV. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I went on the road for the FOX series “Trading Spouses,” a “re-interpretation” or “re-image” of the ABC series “Wife Swap.” It was my job to find what my boss tolerantly called “religious nutjobs under the spell of George Bush.”
The reality of reality involves a term called Franken-bytes. This is a widely-shared secret of the genre. Let’s say a vegetarian isn’t “vegetarian-enough.” Or a minority isn’t “sassy enough.” Or a Christian isn’t “born again-y.” The story department simply tells the editors that they need a franken-byte—a sound byte pieced together from hundreds of hours of interviews. Hidden under B-roll footage, the editors can create a sentence that never came out of the person’s mouth.
For example, using the above paragraphs a good editor could piece together the sentence “Brandon Walsh is a sassy summertime vegetarian” even though I never said such a thing.
Visuals can be manipulated too. I once noticed a sly editor putting a yawn in super slow-mo because the producer needed the contestant to look “shocked.”
Is it real? Of course not. You’d be crazy to allow your kitten on reality TV. The producers would twist the footage to make your cat express something she never meowed.
Still, it’s the only place where Christians are allowed to roam. What would “Beauty And The Geek” be without “the Christian nerd?” Where would “Elimidate” be without the virgin being kicked off due to her stance on chastity? What would “Celebrity Fit Club” be without "Bibleman" star Willie Aames beating up his front door in a fit of holy rage?
Until well-written shows like “Arrested Development” and “Gilmore Girls” return, I’m forced to watch class-less reality shows.
Here are my top five, in very-specific order. Bring on the love in the comments section!
5. The Cut - You haven’t laughed until you hear Tommy Hilfiger tell some loser, “I’m sorry, but you’re out of style.” Fantastic writing! Somewhere, Donald Trump's writer is sweatin' it.
4. Blow Out - Hairstylist and sound byte king Jonathan Antin spends the summer weeping on-camera that his product line landed on QVC.
3. Being Bobby Brown - Who knew Bobby (on a recent prison break) was the sane one in the marriage? Whitney needs to pick up a Bible and put down the junk!
2. My Life on the D-List - Kathy Griffin is one funny atheist who calls celebrities on their crap. She's got the funny. Now she needs Jesus.
1. Big Brother 6 - Julie Chen, sprinkled in body glitter, hosts this annual psychological soap where 12 houseguests try to one-up each other’s moral superiority. Good fun.