For the past 30 years, MTV has been a major part of my life. And on its 30th birthday (which probably puts it soundly out of its own demographic), it seems important to acknowledge that while the show was originally a haven for music video, the network switched gears in the '90s when it more or less invented something entirely new: reality TV. Ever since Julie from Alabama met Eric the male model back in 1992, the network has been in the forefront of innovation of the genre, creating the candid reality show, the competition reality show, celebreality and a multitude of other subgenres that have transformed the television industry for good and for ill. So while there's a part of me that still misses Downtown Julie Brown, those antiquated things called videos and Remote Control, I can't help but be impressed by how MTV has changed the way TV gets real.
Ah, Orange County. Land of so-bad-it's-good televised opportunities, exemplified by shows like The O.C., Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor and Real Housewives of Orange County, where the average household income consists of too many digits for the shows' stars to add up (without the help of a calculator-toting assistant). What those shows fail to acknowledge is the existence of lower-class families in their neighborhoods, living paycheck-to-paycheck to reside in a single filthy motel room they can barely afford, which is the focus of Alexandra Pelosi's new documentary series on HBO, Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County.