The Osbournes
Ozz Well That Ends Well

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Punk'd

Quick cut to a phone call. Ozzy is talking to Sharon, wondering if she's coming back. Sharon says that she needs to be on her own for a while. She can't be in the house because Minnie is everywhere in that house; she's is in Malibu. (Sharon, not Minnie. Minnie is in the dumpster in back of the Viper Room.) "I don't know where the house in Malibu is," Ozzy says. It's a funny line, but what does it matter? He never drives anywhere, anyway. "I'm so terribly sad, you know," Ozzy says. Sharon says that she doesn't want to talk about it and that she needs to be on her own. Ozzy tells her not to do anything stupid. "I love you," Ozzy says as Sharon hangs up. "Fucking hell," Ozzy says, and walks to the TV couch. He picks up the remote and says that he's stuck on the fucking Weather Channel again. He calls for Jack. He bangs on the remote. "Sharon!" More banging. "Kelly!" He gets up. "Aw, fucking hell," he says, and walks out of the room. The theme music starts. "And…cut," says someone. (Yes, at this point, watching, my jaw was on the floor…and then even more so right…now!)

Ozzy comes back into the room as we see a huge crew lined up all around, including a cue card guy holding lines from the "scene" we just saw. Ozzy asks if it's all over. "It's all over," says the director. "I don't have to say the F word anymore?" yells Ozzy. He cheers. Everyone hugs. The camera swings over to show Sharon holding Minnie! What?! Yup. It's Minnie. The real Minnie. Ozzy and Sharon hug. There's Bad Nanny and Bitch Boy and Jack and Robert. Animal wranglers start putting the dogs in crates. (Get it? Because the dogs are not really theirs!) Ozzy hugs crew members. "Now you can all fuck off!" yells Ozzy.

Outside. About forty crew people and "cast" wave from the front steps. "Bye!" they say.

Now we get the shot from the first season where a shirtless Ozzy sits on the couch covering his face and stammering. "I love you all…" he says. But then he "flubs" the line and someone off-screen yells, "Cut!" He tries again. They cut as he stammers the line, using a different shot of Ozzy. Then he says the famous line and they pipe in cheering as Ozzy mumbles the line that comes right after that, but which we never heard: "A chip off the old block." And that's it!

Okay. So here's the deal. That last sequence where it was made to look like the show has been fake from Day One…the sequence that was perceived to be a big "Fuck you!" to the audience by some. That was fake. Brilliantly constructed. But fake. They just used separate audio. A couple "wild" lines layered on from other places of Ozzy stammering, and a shot of a clapper clapping off the shots between the same shot over and over, just ended at a different place, and that's all you need. Very very clever. But fake.

Here's my take on it: the show is real. At least as real as any reality show. Creative editing and crafting of stories by the Boys With Avids, sure, but real. This last episode was a wonderful prank. A mean prank, maybe, but effective. Now the reason that it's so dicey is the exact reason it worked: because it plays with the whole flawed notion of reality television in the first place. It plays with the claims that the whole thing is fake. It plays with the notion of what we believe, very much in the way that The War of the Worlds did. I think this was one of the most brilliant half hours of television I've ever seen. Historic, I would say. I was fooled, absolutely. And very disturbed. But goddamn, was it memorable and incredibly well set up. Set up over a full year, really. Because it all built to this. Sure, if you go back and watch, you'll see "flaws." Jack's performance is not great. (Hope it's better in the Olsen twins movie he signed onto.) Ozzy's is wonderful. Also, the weird camera issues. But man, it worked. And so all the people who are so betrayed and scream to the heavens that you will never watch the show again: take a breath. Think about it. These people let you into their homes, and you came. They did it willingly, and there is no reason to feel sorry for them. However, is there really any reason to feel sorry for yourselves that they played a little joke on you? It doesn't negate the whole show. It doesn't actually change anything. We were all challenged and made to feel something by a basic cable television show. To feel. Which is what art is supposed to do, if you can call this art. So to react with anger and a refusal to ever watch again? As Ozzy might say, "Aw…c'mon. I mean…woo-- can't you take a fucking joke, man?"

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The Osbournes

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