By Ed Hill
So let me ask a question to all you loyal TVgasm readers out there. What were you doing 8 months ago today? I know what I was doing. Sitting in my family’s living room opening presents. I can picture it now….
Well whattya know, I got the new God of War game for the PS2! And look, my sister Rosemary got that iPod she’s been wanting! What’s that Mom? Another Tanqueray and Tonic? You got it. Hey everyone, lets sing a song!
I bet we been together for a million years
And I bet we’ll be together for a million more.
Oh, It’s like I started breathing on the night we kissed
And I can’t remember what I ever did before.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
What would we do baby, Without Us?
And there ain’t no nothing we can’t love each other through.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
Sha la la laaaaa.
Ahhh, Christmas in the Hill household. Presents, liquor and the theme song to Family Ties. Pure bliss. But alas, not everyone’s Christmas was as joyful as mine. Some of them downright sucked. And those people would be described best with one word: Brats!That’s right! Decorate the tree, turn the AC on high, put on the ugly green sweater and get out your Rankin Bass videos. It’s Christmas at Brat Camp! When last we left out troubled youths it was graduation day for a few of them, and the focus was on whether or not everyone would be able to graduate by Christmas. Sadly, it looked as if most of them were going to be sticking around. So the episode opens with everyone making the best of an admittedly sucky situation. We get each kid sharing their Secret Santa lists, decorating the huge makeshift Christmas tree outside the tent, and trying to keep their spirits up. It’s the day before Christmas at Brat Camp and everyone is secretly praying that Santa will come tonight so they can bumrush him and steal the sleigh because 40 days with a guy who calls himself “Fire Bear” is 39 days too many.
The counselors, however, still feel the need to put them through one last test. This one is about trust. So they have the kids walk a tight rope between 2 trees with only a few dangling ropes to act as handrails. They are kept safe by a person known as the “belay” who acts as a spotter and is holding the ropes attached to each kid, keeping them from falling. It’s a typical summer camp “build trust” exercise. And if that isn’t hard enough, the kids are subjected to listening to the counselors down below scream up empty platitudes like “Push though this!” or “This exercise is symbolic of where we are right now” and “Why don’t you share with the group what you’re goal is?” Before I could answer that last question myself by screaming it to the TV screen, Lauren, my favorite, answers it for me. “My goal? Um, to not fricken fall!” Yup. That’s my girl. Lauren is also forced to have Jada, the one we have discovered is an unrepentant lying brat, be her belay. Once Lauren gets across to the other side, the narrator concludes “This proves that Jada was trustworthy after all.” No, this proves that Jada can hold a rope. For the most part the kids come through with flying colors and even Derek, who had to back off because of his fear of heights, is able to do the cheesy fall backwards and let people catch you bit.
The next morning it’s finally Christmas. And what a surprise the kids have in store for them. There are stockings on the tree outside the tents! And what’s in them? Oh great. Granola and a candy cane. Goddamned hippies. The candy cane is probably made of tofu too. Not to be outdone, each kid now gives the other their Secret Santa presents. They mostly consist of handmade objects: Lauren made Isaiah a pouch, Shawn made Derek a frog out of a tin can, and Frank made the drug addict Shawn a spoon. Hmm, maybe not the best idea, but it’s the thought that counts.
Later Lauren is walking outside the tent and hears someone calling her name. She starts wandering over to see who it is (it’s a blinding snowstorm by the way) and soon enough she sees that it’s her mom. I have to admit, the look on her face was actually really touching when she saw who it was. A single tear ran down my ruggedly handsome cheek, I won’t lie. But unfortunately they keep the stunt going and its gets old fast. Yep, its graduation day for everyone. But being the TV-aware group of counselors they are, they make every single reunion a “surprise”. We see Shawn’s family, Derek’s family (Whose dad looks suspiciously like an old prospector), Frank’s family, even Isaiah’s mom who says “I feel like Isaiah is ready to come home”. Yeah well, ask your neighbor that and see what he says.
And last but not least we have the brattiest of the bratties, Jada. The counselors clearly think she’s a gigantic failure, but even they want to go home for Christmas and not get stuck with her; so they are left with little options. “Flying Eagle” confronts Jada in a now empty camp and tells her that all the others have graduated, but they are still concerned about her. She responds the only way she knows how. Having a full-on bratty, screaming, crying meltdown. It works, and they shove her out the door to her family. You can practically see the boot mark on her ass. Flying Eagle can only take so much. We then have a big group party in the main tent where everyone cries and hugs and talks about how much they’ve changed and grown. It’s a tent full of Dr. Phils. And can you imagine anything more glorious? But wait! How will we know how they fare back in the real world? Don’t’ fret because that’s coming up after the commercial break.
The last 10 minutes of the show is basically a “where are they now” segment following each Brat Camper up to the present day. Think of the finale of Six Feet Under with less death and overblown melodrama. Shawn has morphed from a Drug user to a Jedi Padawan as we see him meditating in the back yard. Isaiah talks about how his heart is now more open (to racism apparently). Heather is at boarding school and looking pretty good as well. Even Lexie, who was molested, is back to riding horses. And my Lauren looks to have really straightened up and flown right. How much of this is editing? I don’t know (they did edit Isaiah to be all better too), but it’s nice to see. It warms the cockles of my heart. That’s right. I have warm cockles. Wanna see?
Yay Brat Camp!
And then there’s Jada. She’s right back to where she was at the beginning: a lying, pot smoking, manipulative pain in the ass. It’s as if B-Side turned into a 16 year old girl (just kidding boss…). She talked her way out of boarding school (did I mention her parents are wimps? Well they are) and is back to being as annoying as we remember her. Ah well you can’t win ‘em all.
Did the kids really change? Was ABC right to put this show on the air after all the controversy? Was a big gaping hole in ABC’s dead summer schedule successfully filled with reality show bilge? Will I be able to go at least a few months without typing the word “brat”? Maybe we’ll never know. All I know is this hopefully marks the last episode of Brat Camp. Unless they come up with a Reality Star’s Brat Camp where Trishelle from Real World and Allison from Big Brother finally learn some important life lessons and everyone gets “Fairplayed”. That would be awesome.