Recently in Hollywood Self-Congratulation Corner Category
The new A&E show Wahlburgers brands itself as a "real life reality series," but it's really just one long commercial and/or recruitment video for the restaurant that bears the same name. It's not a terrible show per se, and the Wahlberg family matriarch Alma with her thick Boston accent ("I BEG YA PAH-DON, " "That's MAHK when he was doin' The Perfect Staaaahm) and lovingly no-nonsense demeanor is certainly a delight to watch, but this is as glossy (quite literally, as the camera looks like it was doused in Vaseline), low stakes and carefully produced and edited as a reality show can be.
The Season 2 premiere of Episodes ended with the cast and crew of Pucks learning that the show's pilot had pulled in boffo ratings despite receiving largely terrible reviews from critics. But last night's episode revealed another key Hollywood truth: in television, success can turn to failure within the span of a single week.
There's definitely something appealing about the idea of hanging out with a bunch of really funny people. Not only are you probably going to have a laugh, but you'll probably get to feel a little bit funnier by proximity. However, when you let Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. - who could each justifiably be labeled as brilliant -- get together for some light chit-chat about what makes them so funny, you end up with something that's more egotistical, self-congratulatory and smug than, you know, humorous. In case you didn't tune in to the premiere airing of this awkwardly edited conversational circle jerk, here are some of the more outstanding insights of the night:
It might not be apparent to the casual viewer, particularly those of us who are members of the supposedly cynical Generation X, but MTV is actually gearing its current programming to the "civic-minded" millennial generation. Yes, really, that's what the president of MTV Networks believes. And though at first we had scoffed at his bold claim (we are, after all, grievously jaded), upon closer inspection (extremely close) and much to our surprise, we did indeed discover that shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom really are virtuous and educational after all. Here's why:
It's Emmy Award nomination day, which means that we all get insanely frustrated when quality programs get snubbed, while some old standbys get put on the list out of habit. While there were quite a few welcome surprises this year, and some truly deserving television spotlighted, it's pretty clear that the Emmy voters did not take heed and follow our wish list very closely. On the plus side, while watching the nomination announcements this morning, we got to see Grey's Anatomy's Chandra Wilson and Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons read off the main categories, and we love both of them. So that was something. Let's break it down category by category, shall we?
What constitutes news, you might ask? An awesome celeb hosting an awards show we've never watched? That's news. Two fallen 1980s movie stars being cast in TV shows? That's news. A TV show set in the 1970s getting dropped like a bad habit? That's news. A 1990s TV star being cast in a remake of a 1980s TV show, due to appear on TV in 2010? That's a math problem, but it's also news. All those decades and more on today's... TwoP News! (Cue American Idol theme music.)
In the consumer culture we inhabit, company spokesmen have long been elevated to the equal status alongside their legitimate cartoon and comic-book brethren. Captain Crunch, Ronald McDonald and the football-playing Fox Sports Robot are among the corporate shills who have been immortalized as action figures, hanging on racks alongside G.I. Joe and Spongebob for nostalgic reasons, kitsch factor or sheer coolness of design alone. And I think that's awesome. But we are about to enter a new age: the age of the TV production company mascot toy.
Apparently, this year being the first year that reality show hosts are eligible for Emmy awards isn't good enough for some people. DHD has reported that, according to a "reliable source," the hosts of this year's Emmy awards ceremony will be not one, not two, not three, not six, but all five of the nominees in the Reality Host category. So if you usually watch the show to escape reality TV (despite the fact that it... is... reality TV), you're S.O.L. But if you love reality TV and want to have a million of its babies live on a major network during primetime, you are in luck.
Apparently, and don't spread this around too much, television can sway people's political opinions. No, it's true! It was true back in the day, when an unshaven Dick Nixon debated a fresh-faced JFK and came off looking like a cartoon hobo, and it's true today. At least, that's what actor Dennis Haysbert would have us believe. He thinks that playing the President of the United States on 24 for two seasons (as well as one season as a candidate and one season as a former prez) showed America how awesome it would be to have a black president, and said as much to the Associated Press. But if that's the case, why didn't Hillary Clinton benefit from any of the numerous female presidents we've seen on TV?
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