Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tip of the Week

As anyone who pays attention to this space knows, I am no fan of so-called “Reality TV,” a genre that as a viewer, I consider to be the sweaty, unwashed armpit of the television industry. Reality shows have the same chance of serving up the truth about real-world life as I do of learning to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix -- zero.

Still, we all have to make a living in this town, and sometimes that means taking whatever comes. In that light, I would be the proverbial pot calling the kettle black to criticize anyone working in Reality Television, given that most of my income this year has come from slaving in the salt mines of Disney, helping make a series of noisy, idiotic sit-coms designed to penetrate the ADD-afflicted brains of pre-teenage kids... and thus pry open the pocketbooks of their parents.

Which means I too am a sinner beyond redemption, and cannot throw the first stone.

I do, however, thoroughly enjoy reading reviews of Reality shows, particularly those from the pen of Mary McNamara, who with Robert Lloyd, deliver a one-two punch of consistently razor-sharp television criticism for the LA Times.  These two dissect the network’s offerings with a precision and power I haven’t witnessed since the heavy-hitting days of Mantle and Maris, Mays-and-McCovey, or Canseco and McGwire. *

Mary hit yet another ball out of the park with her recent review of “Beverly Hills Nannies,” the latest barge of fetid reality garbage to drift across our screens. The “Beverly Hills” series reminds me of those stiff-legged zombies in “Living Dead”; regardless of how ridiculous such brain-rotting shows are, they just keep coming. I can’t help wondering what’s next – “Beverly Hills Gardeners,” “Beverly Hills Podiatrists,” or maybe even “Beverly Hills Dentists?”

 Be still my heart...

Whatever you think of Reality Television, read the opening paragraphs of her review.

“During the 18th century, a fashionable pastime among London's rich and royal was to visit Bethlem Royal Hospital, most commonly known as Bedlam, and watch the antics of the mentally ill. In the 21st century, it is the rich and famous who are gaped at, their habits and habitats reveled in and reviled through the lens of reality TV. 

What started as an aspirational experience, epitomized by the gushing "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," has become a cottage industry of class schadenfreude, the crown jewel being the "Real Housewives" franchise. Just look at the size of their closets and their neuroses, see how their children sass them and their "friends" disrespect them, how their marriages rot in front of our shocked and grateful eyes.” 

Good stuff, that.

Check it out...

* Yes, those are sports analogies, which seem entirely appropriate given the National League’s glorious victory over the Forces of Darkness (and the odious DH) of the American League in last night’s All Star Game. If those names draw a blank, Google will be happy to fill you in.


Peggy Archer said...

I love Mary. She wrote an awesome article about me for the Times a few years back. She's an amazing writer and a very nice person.

Michael Taylor said...

Peg --

I read that article in the Times when it came out -- which was the first I'd heard of you -- and long before the idea of writing my own blog occurred to me. I've been reading Mary for a lot longer than that, though -- she used to write a wonderful column called "Drive Time" about LA in general. Her prose just knocks me out -- really great stuff. When she's "on," she's the best, and the rest of the time she's just very, very good. I'd be thrilled if I could write half so well...