Before and Beyond the Kardashians…Reality TV: A Retrospective

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Remember when reality shows started to take over television? We all joked that eventually we’d just be watching people sitting around watching TV. Well, apparently that’s what it’s come to. The People’s Couch on Bravo is just that. Yes, it’s based on a British show, so we can’t blame this entirely on cutie-pie shark Andy Cohen…but still. Personally, I would develop my own show called Meta, which is of course just me watching The People’s Couch…while I have no doubt it would be a hit, you could not pay me enough to actually watch an episode of TPC. Anyway, seeing an ad for TPC inspired to take a look at some of the best and worst reality TV and see how we got ourselves to this point.

The Simple Life

Say all you want about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie— actually don’t I will defend them to the death– but at least they did something on their show. The Simple Life was no Kardashians sitting at home talking about how annoying Kim is being about her new Bentley (that is a real episode, people)– this was Paris and Nicole sitting on a farm talking about how cool a Bentley tractor would be. Really The Simple Life was deep: it took us into the homes of rural America. And they did  something. They worked. They made differences in people’s lives. They lived on a farm in Arkansas, road tripped ’round the country, worked for an airline, a mortuary, a summer camp, all while staying with regular families– including Ke$ha’s!* (That’s hot) We watched Nicole go from chubby with ratty extensions and black streaks to anorexic** and bobbed. Ugh, remember that season when they were fighting and had to do the show separately? Sure the competition and staged confrontation were fun, but like it was just so stressful for us. Were you Team Paris or Team Nicole? Don’t worry I’ll do celebrity feuds soon. 

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Keeping Up With the Kardashians

Ugh. The first family of reality TV. I know the title implied that this wouldn’t be about them, but it wouldn’t be a Komplete look at reality TV without mentioning the omnipresent Kardashians. First of all, I highly suggest you go back and watch earlier seasons. RIP Kim and Reggie Bush (true soul mates #NoDisrespectToKanye #NoDisrespectToBenAffleck). It’s amazing to see how different everyone looked back then. Rob was thin and cheating on a Cheetah Girl (how dare he?!!). Plus, Bruce Jenner was still a man. They also manufactured stories a lot more dramatic, whereas now we’re so invested in this family we’re content to watch them do literally nothing but deal with their relationships. I think in Judaism we don’t believe in the devil, but I’m pretty sure they’ve changed those teachings since we’ve been introduced to Kris Jenner. Are we sure she isn’t Rosemary’s Baby? Let’s not even deal with Bruce– I can’t. Ditto for Kendall and Kylie, like shut up literally the most spoiled brats, at least make a fucking sex tape like a hardworking Kardashian.*** Obviously Lord Disick is a God and is the only reason I watch. Kourtney is the luckiest “doll” on Earth. Although, it’s hilarious Scott and Khloé are bffs, weren’t they enemies earlier on? Speaking of KoKo, yes the circumstances of her split with Lamar are horrible, but everyone is saying how no one her age should have to get divorced– um hello KIM IS ON HER THIRD HUBBY! Speaking of which, if she couldn’t end up with Reg (ugh they were just so perfect and cute), I think she should have stayed with the Hump. LOL Ray J.

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Talent Competitions

Let’s be real, for every Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, there are 10 Taylor Hickses and Fantasias. American Idol was great at the beginning, but maybe it’s time to bow out. The Voice got me back into singing shows– the revolutionary format was enticing…until you realized that after the auditions it was pretty much the same. The judges dynamic was enough to bring views in (Blaaaaaaaake), something they’ve tried to mimic with new judges on AI and The X Factor, but I’m not biting. America’s Got Talent, however, is a family event in the Rez House. It’s a true talent show, but can get aggravating to see who’s auditioning– I’m sorry but you’re competing for a show in Vegas– no one is going to Vegas to see a contemporary dance troop of 10 year olds or a preteen playing piano. ALSO THE PLATE FLIPPER FROM THE CLIPPERS GAMES!! Highlights are always comics and magicians- also those dogs that won and my personal favorite, the guy whose talent was getting hit in the balls! Other faves are Last Comic Standing and the ever-wonderful Project Runway. Project Runway was just so original and the characters are just the best. ANTM is also great if you need a good laugh…Oh Tyra. Also let’s be real Shark Tank is the shit–a) it makes Mark Cuban likable and b) Robert Herjavec is amazing (yum). Finally, Chopped is my favorite show ever.

harrysSame guy right?

Dating Competition Shows

Fox recently cancelled I Wanna Marry Harry midseason, and I’m very upset about it. First of all, how could you leave us hanging like this, Fox? Obviously it only had the potential for one season, couldn’t you just stick it out? And, America, why weren’t y’all watching? How could you not wany to see a bunch of girls dumb enough to believe not only that FOURTH IN LINE TO THE THRONE OF ENGLAND decided to televise a bunch of Yanks competing for his love?? Firstly, like why were they not suspicious that he was into all these brunettes… EVERYONE KNOWS HARRY ONLY GOES FOR BLONDES. I mean it’s one this to believe the premise, but these girls spent time with the impostor and still believed he was Prince Harry! It was Joe Millionaire (which made it 2 seasons) but with competitors dumber than Paris, Nicole, and Kim combined! I’ve never seen The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but I can’t imagine them being any more entertaining than this. I at least have some respect for shows like Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, etc. because at least they’re not pretending to be anything they’re not. All these women on all these shows are batshit crazy.

Real Housewives

Has anyone ever noticed that the majority of the Housewives aren’t even wives? Nothing wrong with being single, but maybe Andy Cohen should have named it (Sort of) Real (Sort of) Rich Women? I started watching these when Beverly Hills came out (although also extremely misleading because I think literally 1 of them actually lives in BH, but I get the brand-name recognition). Like sorry but it hasn’t been worth it since the best character, Paul Nassif, left. TG he has a new show on E!, Botched. Yeah, at the beginning we were all obsessed with Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards–we were all like OMG Mauricio is such a DILF, but I’m so over it. I do love RHOA though. I miss Kim though. Also, how exactly did NeNe become a star again? She is literally the worst actor and the most annoying person alive. Like obsessed with everyone else though. The greatest jewel of the franchise was the short-lived RHODC. In all fairness I only saw the reunion and maybe a couple of episodes, but White House Crasher Mikaela Salahi should have made it a hit. Bravo finally nixed the RH title with their new shows Ladies of London– which is essentially a Real Housewives and is actually pretty great.

giphyIt was a Lexus. Her life was ruined.

My Super Sweet 16

Hilary Duff sang the theme song so every episode started off perfectly. (Wasn’t Come Clean the Laguna Beach theme? HilDuff really carved out a niche for herself on MTV) Who didn’t start planning their own 16th after each episode? The kids were brats but, like, entertaining brats. A girl’s party took over an entire school, but like I feel like that didn’t happen at my high school. I would have loved to see My Super Sweet Bat Mitzvah, and I hate to admit it, but I could have easily been on that. For sure, my tantrums were bigger than some on the show, and my party was just as extravagant as some on the show. #TBT to my Bat Mitzvah drama– I had originally listed a bunch of stuff but I think this deserves its own post down the road… here’s a taste though: at one point, my dad offered me any car I could ever want (a la Sweet 16) to get me to stop crying! (I also forgot to bring a bra which got inappropriate) Most importantly though, America’s Sweetheart and my future BFF Jennifer Lawrence was in a commercial!

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Laguna Beach/The Hills

I’ve actually never seen any of these so not much I can say. Having said that, I do know who Lauren Conrad, Brody Jenner, Kristen Cavallari, Speidi, etc. are. What is kind of amazing about this is that these shows completely created celebrities out of nothing (but maybe the popularity of The O.C.). We already knew Paris and Kim (quite intimately) when The Simple Life and KUWTK first aired, but LC was just a high schooler who is now a “fashion designer” and “published writer.”

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Storage Wars

People complain that A&E will make shows about literally anything, but Storage Wars is a goldmine. My cousin introduced me to it when we were in Hawaii and we spent literally an entire day inside watching a marathon– it may have been the best day of the trip. Barry is one of the most entertaining characters on TV, and I’m pretty sure his sole reason for doing this is to make friends, and boy has he. There’s also a married couple on the show who fight so much that their poorly matched relationship could be its own show. Except no one would watch because they’re so annoying– then again we’re on Season 9 of KUWTK.

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Newlyweds/Chaotic, etc.

The general takeaway from the Newlyweds was that Jessica Simpson was dumber than dumb (or was at least pretending to be) and that Chicken of The Sea was in fact fish, not chicken. The real takeaway, however, should have been DO NOT DO A REALITY SHOW IF YOU WANT TO STAY TOGETHER. (I’d worry about you, Giuliana and Bill, if I cared enough about you) Reality shows lead to divorce. Don’t believe me? Just ask Britney and K-Fed, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro, Shanna Moakler and Travis Barker, the Gosselins, Hulk Hogan, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, Tori and Dean (maybe), hell even Khloe and Lamar had their own show. The exception that proves the rule is clearly Ice Loves Coco, which chronicles real, honest to god, true love.

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The Real World

I’ve never seen it but I thought I had to include it because I feel like it really is the foundation of reality TV. I’m putting it last instead of first because I want to talk about the fact that they tried to make reality movies a thing. The Real Cancun came out in theaters and everyone was afraid that film was dead. It didn’t catch on though. Which I think is really interesting and one day I’ll have to sit down and watch it and maybe gain some insight why. I think we’re good on that front until we have The People’s Couch: The Movie, which is just people watching the last Divergent film and the new Judd Apatow movie.

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RIP and TBT

#RIP and #TBT to some of my faves: Beauty and the Geek, Dirty Soap, BridalPlasty, The Girls Next Door (the original with Holly Bridget and Kendra), Scream Queens, Pretty Wild, and of course Princesses: Long Island.

SHABBAT SHALOM. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

*Yes, I know she’s Kesha now, but she’ll always have the dollar sign to me

**Allegedly! Nicole Richie has said she does not have an eating disorder

***Just a side note, I love how Kim is always being referred to (by herself as well) as a workaholic

Ed note: I got really freaked out scrolling past the Super Sweet 16 gif thinking it was me–she looks eerily like me when I was about 15

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Uptown Girls, Two Thumbs UP: A Retraction of My Sixth Grade Review

Look, I made a lot of mistakes in sixth grade. Many of them were fashion related, as detailed in this previous post. Also, I’m definitely not saying that one time I may or may not have possibly farted during homeroom and tried to play it cool, but I’m also not entirely saying I didn’t… However, recently, another sixth grade mistake has come to my attention. And when I am wrong, I say I’m wrong so I’m using this blog to rectify that situation.

In sixth grade, I was on the El Rodeo Student News.* One weekend, I saw the Brittany Murphy/Dakota Fanning movie Uptown Girls with my father and we both hated it, so naturally I decided to show off my clearly higher-than-sixth-grade-girl standards to the entire school with a scathing review. I don’t remember details, but I do remember writing the headline, Uptown Girls: Two Thumbs Down. Now, I’d like to believe the “two thumbs down” was a play on the “Up” part of “Uptown,” but more realistically in a stroke of great pretentiousness I saw myself a mini Roger Ebert. I recently rewatched Uptown Girls, and I’d like to formally retract my review, a la The Patriot News.

Dakotaalways an adult trapped in a kid’s body, Dakota gives us a peak at a situation women know all too well

In the words of another great Weekend Update guest: This movie has everything: Turk/Murray’s mole aka “tickle button,” Heather Locklear as a workaholic exec (ha!), that hot Australian guy from House, Brittany Murphy in a DIY overall dress, and Dakota Fanning at her Dakotaiest. In fact, the only thing Uptown Girls doesn’t have is the titular (singularized) Billy Joel song.

It’s the classic modern day princess story. Rich, free-spirited Molly’s rockstar parents died, leaving her a fabulous New York apartment filled with a fabulous wardrobe, a freezer of loose cash, and a pet pig. Molly may have it all (other than a job), but she’s not your average superficial rich girl– she makes a hair accessory out of a mini candle shade from Home Depot!! She even gives flowers to her old neighbor, a thong to her doorman, and her gifts to the Salvation Army! Long story short, Molly loses all her money and must get a job nannying for anal retentive, OCD, Ray, aka Dakota Fanning in everything ever.

The movie has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I truly believe the 96 critics, as well as twelve year old me, didn’t fully grasp the true deepness of this movie. I mean, we’re talking about an unlikely friendship between a carefree heiress and a no-nonsense neat freak. AND it’s between an adult and a child. AND the child is the grown-up of the relationship and the adult is the immature one! Woah, way to blow my mind, here! Talk about originality!

This movie is just packed with emotional scenes on par with Academy Award Best Pictures. Ray may be an OCD nutcase, but there has to be a reason, right? Oh, is there! Ray’s mom completely neglects her, and her father is in a coma, a few rooms down the hall from her bedroom. She’s eight years old and must pass her father every day, but refuses to connect with him because he’s a “vegetable.” Guys, this is some real shit. As if that wasn’t enough, just one day after Molly convinces Ray it will help him to spend time with her comatose father, he up and dies. You may have felt a little twinge when Coney Island is closed the first time our girls go, but if you didn’t sob when Ray collapses onto Molly their second visit, you’re an absolute monster!

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Dakota Fanning gives a memorable performance as she evolves from quoting Baryshnikov, and sanitizing plastic scones to puking post-spinning teacups at germ-ridden Coney Island, and literally letting her hair down and letting loose during a ballet performance (pictured above). Along the way, she gives a show stopping performance slapping and punching her babysitter until she breaks down in tears.

The late Brittany Murphy (RIP) plays carefree as well as anybody. And I think it is truly a testament to her acting that despite how annoying and delusional her character may be in regards to her love interest, that I couldn’t help but cry the happiest of tears when Neal showed up at Ray’s recital to perform “Molly Smiles” and reveal it was he who bought her fathers’ guitar collection at auction— can you say plot twist?!!! I hope you were paying attention M. Night Shyamalan!!!

Overall, I’d like to retract my review from ten years ago, and apologize to the El Rodeo Community- I did not do you justice as a responsible journalist and reviewer. I hope this post can undo all the damage I may have caused.

*I have a bunch of memories of this fact and the following story, but no real evidence, so keep in mind there is a small chance this entire newspaper is a figment of my imagination.

Ed note: I think Jeremiah Atkinson is one of the most genius characters to come out of SNL. I cry laughing every time I watch his original appearance.

Confessions of A Tween Label Whore

2000I was deprived as a kid and tween. I never had a Kipling backpack or purse or pencil pouch and I still have nightmares about it sometimes. That was the first brand name I ever remember lusting after. I’m sorry mom, but was it too much to ask for something with a furry, plastic, freaking monkey hanging off it? I could spend an entire playdate sitting next to a friend’s bag, putting the monkey’s (did he have a name? or did you have to name him yourself?…see, it’s these things I missed out on knowing) thumb in his mouth. But for some reason, I just never became a member of the Kipling Kool Kids Klub.
I just wanted to tell you all that story so you can understand why I am such a tortured soul.Here’s why it was such a big deal… from about 4th to 6th grade brands were a big deal. They still can be, especially in girl world, but from 7th grade on it changes and gets way more expensive and over time thankfully I’ve matured and grown out of it….mostly.juicyThe height of my label whoring came in 5th grade with the introduction of the holy grail of pretweendom: the velour Juicy tracksuit. I mean, everyone was rocking velour hoodies, but if you had a J-shaped zipper, you were queen. By the time I figured this out, my mom already had the classic black tracksuit and after months of pleading let me wear it. Perfect, right? Wrong. Somehow, my mom had broken the “J” off the zipper. I finally was going to wear Juicy and no one was going to know about it. So the next logical option, being the superficial tween I was, was to just let the tag show as often as possible. I realized I could just role the pants over once and the tag would show (also a built in bonus of another 5th grade label staple: Hard Tails) and I could prove this was the real deal. I’m sure no one looked close enough to read the label, but I felt better. Eventually I got my own Juicy wardrobe, complete with real “J’ zippers, but by then everyone had them. Funnily enough, Juicy started putting their name huge on the butt of pants, which I’m guessing was someone’s solution to the tiny writing on the tag problem. (no? I’m the only one who tried that?)emmaThat same year, the new must-have “designer” trend was Ugg Boots. I had to wait to buy my first pair with birthday and Chanukah money because my mom refused at $100 a pair for boots in LA. The only options were Sand, Chestnut (or as I called them, Grocery Bag), or Black and they came in Short or Tall. I went Grocery Bag and Tall. There were knockoffs everywhere, but I had my real-deals and I was happy. Then, the next year, Ugg released the boot in Pink and Baby Blue. Code Red: I had to have them. But according to my mom they were just a fad and I ended up with pink Emus. I literally would press the backs of my ankles against walls so no one would see the label. Probably one of the most shameful moments of my life.And that’s my Throwback Thursday for you. Shout out to some of the other brand name items I had to have instead of the knockoffs: Rocket Dog wedge flip flops, Baby G watches, and Von Dutch trucker hats (okay I had one knockoff Von Dutch…sue me!)