Vinny, Sammie, J-Woww, Snooki, and Situation all had a nice run on MTV’s Jersey Shore. With the low attention span of the public eye and the constant need for something new, It seems that Jersey Shore peaked before heading off to Italy. This doesn’t mean that next season won’t score high ratings, it just means that the novelty is about to wear off, and I’m thankful for that.
Reality shows bothered me since the first ever Real World on MTV aired in 1992. I’ll admit that I was into the first few seasons of American Idol, but then I dropped off like an Acme anvil over a cartoon cliff. Reality shows killed sitcoms and that is why I will forever hate them. “Give me Webster, or give me Death!” – Me.
My built in hatred of reality shows had me disgusted as soon as I heard that Simon Cowell was bringing The X-Factor to the U.S. There’s no need for another televised singing competition. Think about it, when did you watch Star Search? I remember flicking channels and seeing it when nothing else was on and I was bored out of my skull. Usually it aired at some weird time, like 1:00 PM on a Sunday. Nope, not X-Factor. I’m sure it will be front and center in Fox’s fall lineup.
The Sexy Armpit attended The X-Factor auditions held last night at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. After waiting outside for an hour in 95 degree heat on a line nearly as long as one for a Justin Bieber kissing booth, we were finally let into the building. From there we were told to choose our own seats, a task that could’ve turned into mass chaos, but went surprisingly smooth.
The M.C, who happened to be a Jersey guy, went through his shtick and told us NOT to BOO the singers. WHAT? Isn’t that what we all do at home when watching these lame shows? If we don’t like someone we should be able to communicate that. I hear the Idol audience booing all the time. Aw, how sweet, The X-Factor is being all tender and compassionate. Simon Cowell is running the damn show! Simon, you better not have instituted this stupid no Booing policy.
The judges, Simon, Paula, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A Reid, all walked out to their table in a swirl of lights and maniacal applause to Guns N Roses “Live and Let Die.” Simon wasn’t nearly as entertaining as he was on Idol, hopefully it’s because it was merely the audition phase. Paula’s responses were still all over the place, but more constructive. Nicole sounded like she was stoned out of her mind on crystal meth. Everything she said sounded like she was on a higher plane of existence. Maybe she was nervous since it was her first time judging on the show. L.A Reid was actually the best part because he cut to the chase. He’s an icon of the music business and someone who can provide an expert perspective to the singers.
Did they find any talent in Newark, NJ? Hell yeah they did! Some of the singers actually thrilled the audience to the point of standing ovations. One Brooklyn woman resurrected Billy Vera’s “At This Moment,” and blew the roof off the Pru Center. Needless to say, she made it through as did many other superb singers, many of whom hailed from The Garden State. But don’t you worry, there were enough laughable performances to drop into those promos that will suck you into watching the show.
on MTV’s controversial show, SKINS. He also explores two of the cast members’ Jersey roots.
With television saturated by so-called “reality” shows, MTV cheerfully bathes in it from head to toe. At any given time on any given day, shows such as True Life, Teen Mom, The Real World, and (ugh) Jersey Shore can be seen and have, in a sense, become the network’s standard in terms of programming. But when it was announced that it was producing Skins, few could have anticipated such a myriad of hype and controversy about a hand-me down drama from England about teens up to their eyeballs in sex and drugs. Forget its other show The Hard Times of RJ Berger (whose geeky high school protagonist has the endowment of John Holmes); Skins seemed to have a bulls eye on it from the get-go. After its initial airing, major sponsors pulled their ads and the Parents Television Council (PTC) called for its cancellation, citing that the nudity amongst its cast was dangerously near child pornography (despite the brief nude scenes, it never becomes graphic or sexual in context) since most of its cast was under the age of 18. But if you look past all the cries of denouncement, one would find that MTV has finally put on a good show, but one that seems destined for a brief life.
Using a talented cast of unknowns (including New Jersey natives Sofia Black D’Elia and Daniel Flaherty), the show follows the lives of a small clique of teens with a penchant for anything bad. From scoring legal and illegal drugs to switching sexual partners on a dime, this is KIDS (that cult classic from 1995) for the new millennium, but with more sympathetic characters than their New York counterparts (hell, even more sympathy than those Jersey Shore clowns). Stanley (Flaherty) is the group’s warm heart and soul, an aloof kid with marijuana smoke for brains who is torn between his best friend’s girlfriend and his own girlfriend, all of whom carry their own sorts of baggage. Meanwhile, Tea (D’Elia) is an open lesbian who questions her sexuality after a forbidden tryst with her friend’s boyfriend Tony, the clique’s macho leader whose swagger is only matched by his appetite for destruction, sometimes at the cost of his own friends. Along with the group, the show features subplots as a student-teacher relationship, a disastrous class trip into the woods, homelessness, and ill-equipped parents either not ready to deal with their kids or are too busy being kids themselves. For one hour each week, all of these ingredients are stirred together to give people a reason to forget “reality” shows and see a grossly (but not too distorted) view of why teenagers are revered and abhorred in today’s society. Every teenager seems to have feelings of superiority and invincibility and combined with irresponsibility and a lack of remorse, nothing good can come of this which is what the show demonstrates.
With Jersey Shore as its lead-in, Skins seemed to be a guaranteed success, not to mention the heavy promotion the network put behind it. But with its numbers far below expectations and the viewers dwindling week by week, the fate of the show (at the time of this writing) was still up in the air. An online petition was formed in the hopes of keeping it alive at least for another season if not more. While MTV thrives on controversy, the backlash may have worked against it. Is the show racy? Yes, but it never crosses over into sleaze territory, and those who have cried foul over the show’s depiction of sex and drugs failed to realize that the show never glamorizes or promotes it. Whatever the outcome, Skins has introduced NJ’s own D’Elia and Flaherty into the mainstream; two actors who are sure to become stars sooner or later. Let’s hope sooner.