Not for the first time, The Surreal Life opened with a stirring montage of coffee making, nail painting, sleeping, and George Jefferson yawning. I am now convinced that the show’s editors, upon realizing at the end of filming that this season was a real bore, thought it would be funny to start each show alluding to that fact. Let’s just say it doesn’t exactly get me excited to watch, let alone recap, the show. “Hey, sg-dub, what did you do for Easter?”
“It was awesome! I watched the following conversation take place at the beginning of “The Surreal Life:” The transsexual Alexis Arquette alerted Playboy TV’s Andrea Lowell that her thong was showing, for which she was grateful. This somewhat puzzled Alexis, who (despite having a penis) stated, “I like to show my thong.” Enter 80′s video has-been and spouse abuser Tawny Kitaen who elevated the discourse, noting, “I don’t like showing my ass, but I do like showing my thong.” Not to be outdone, classy Alexis quipped, “I like to show my ass IN a thong!”
Yes, dear readers, He is Risen!The rest of the cast gathered around the breakfast table and were essentially just blathering about nothing. We were able to gather that one of the topics was smoking and who had smokers in their families. Then the discussion shifted to that of children and smoking (or something). Florence Henderson asked Steve Harwell if he had any kids and after an uncomfortable pause, he offered up a soft, “No.”
After a longer, even more uncomfortable pause Steve told the gang that he had a son who sadly died of leukemia at 6 months. Hoo boy… As a father of a 3 month old, this is not something I enjoy watching on my television. Steve obviously wasn’t too keen on talking about the situation but Carol Brady pushed him a bit. Steve choked back some tears and offered up a few heart-wrenching details but really wanted to change the subject. Hey, I have an idea – how about more men in thongs! No? Yeah, you’re right, ain’t no way to segue out of this paragraph humorously or gracefully. Sigh.
The “Surreal Times” rag was delivered to the house and CC ran to grab it. What wacky adventure awaited the Surreal Seven? Why, they would each get their own “talk show” on which they would deliver a monologue and interview a guest of their choosing! In case they didn’t have the ability to get their own guests, a stable of circuit staples was offered up – Bridget the Midget, a guy with a giant mustache, a really old guy, some animal trainer guy… Oh Lori and Reba (ne Dori), where art thou?
Alexis immediately ran off to secure her own guests – presumably someone in his family. Tawny sauntered over to Mrs. Brady and proceeded to play a game of charades that fell flatter than her current career. “Ring! Ring! Ring! Telephone call for Florence Henderson! Ring! Ring! Ring!” Everyone just stared at her – why was she pretending to make a phone call to a woman sitting 3 feet away? She continued her weird little act and everyone just stared at her. Aha, she was “calling” Flo to “book” her as a guest on her “show.” (I got it from the get-go, but found it funny that the cast didn’t.)
Florence agreed to be Tawny’s guest which pleased the former Mrs. Coverdale very much. We then learned that Tawny apparently hates the lovely (if prudish) Mrs. Brady and was out to get her. This was all very strange – especially if it was borne out of the one little “surprise” question Florence asked Tawny during the live newscast the day before. Talk about useless grudges – let’s hope Mrs. Brady fares better than Tawny’s second ex-husband, Chuck Finley.
Steve Harwell teamed up with Maven to do a joint show – wait, would one of them actually have to exude personality? CC initially tried to team up with George Jefferson, but that later fizzled out. Some help arrived in the form of a talk show director type guy and a couple writers. Quite frankly, their credentials were so lacking that I think, “TVgasm writer” would have been more impressive. One of the guys explained that each would have a 10 minute “show” and they’d be judged, live, by a studio audience. The prize would be hosting the final “Surreal Life” episode – usually “Dirty Laundry.” Hey, does that mean old friend Sally Jesse Raphael will no longer take part?! Did Omarosa kill and eat her or something?
Thus began the Festival of Pixilation. Ok, so the first blur was warranted. CC, perhaps feeling a bit emasculated by not being able to drink or do drugs, trotted out this wholesome little t-shirt:
Liver? Hair? STD Collection?
Next, as Alexis discussed her show idea with CC, VH1 cleverly blurred out what I can only assume were her young, pert, nipples:
Maybe there were little Nike Swooshes there?
This was followed quickly by a scene in which Tawny’s shirt apparently slipped enough to show a tiny bit of areola, because you know how we Americans can’t handle a bit of contrasted pigmentation on a woman’s chest:
The Easter Bunny gave me NOTHING this year!
Anyway, with nips standing at attention, Alexis worked out her talk show with CC. She secured Bridget the Midget (a dwarf porn star) and was very confident because she does this sort of thing for Playboy TV. Presumably with a lot less blurred out.
Alexis was striking out with her family – yup, even David Arquette was “busy.” Wow, if that’s not the diss to end all disses, I don’t know what is. David did hook Alexis up with someone who does something with the Muppets or some other puppets. “The Surreal Life” isn’t always so forthcoming with details. Harwell and Maven were shown lying on their sides telling each other they were all set and didn’t need any planning session. In other words, they knew they weren’t going to “win,” they were just along for the ride, and they didn’t give a crap.
For the most part, it appeared that everyone else did though. Alexis had written his monologue and tested it out on the hired comedy writer. After a little bit about former castmates and their questionable health practices, the writer laughed and said that Alexis would “kill.” I wasn’t so sure about that but then again, what do I know about writing comedy? Not much, and I apparently don’t know what an attractive man is either – because Alexis claimed he only sat with the writer because he was hot, not to get advice. This guy?
George Jefferson wanted Marla Gibbs (Flo from “The Jeffersons”) but she wasn’t home. Plan B was to secure the services of the guy with the 10 foot mustache. All that hard work pooped George out, so he went to go take yet another nap. I dreamt of doing the same.
But then something crazy happened – the show got a storyline! Not one I liked, mind you, but something I could hang my hat on. Tawny was still on the warpath to “get” Florence Henderson. She was intent on asking Mrs. Brady all sorts of controversial and lewd questions like, “When did you lose your virginity.” Since Florence was right there (they were prepping for the “show”) she answered, “On my wedding night to my first husband.” Tawny then made fun of this fact and refused to believe it. You mean everyone didn’t writhe around on top of Jaguars and bang the lead singer?
Tawny was taking this fake talk show thing far too seriously. She had an agenda and nothing would get in her way. In her words, “We’re gonna find out more about Florence than her gyno knows.” Good lord, Tawny, the woman is 72 years old! The word “Gyno” in reference to a septuagenarian made me gag on my Cadbury egg, thanks. Tawny then called Mrs. Brady a bitch. Why? Who knows… The way things were going, I half expected Tawny to do something shocking for the sake of doing something shocking, like present a dildo to a 72 year old woman.
“I want a desk with a sex toy on it,” screeched Tawny to the set designers. Huh? Tawny’s losing it, which means that we (finally) have a reason to watch. I wonder how her monologue stacks up? “I love sports, I really do. You know how they say there’s racism in sports – that some races are better than others in certain sports? But now the number one golfer is a black guy! But an ‘Oriental’ winning the In-dee 500? That ain’t gonna happen!”
*Silence* (Even crickets hated that “joke.”)
Okay, let’s dissect the above alleged joke. I didn’t transcribe it word for word, but I assure you that hearing Tawny say it didn’t do it any justice beyond my writing it. It made no sense at all (she likes sports, some say some races excel at certain sports, but Tiger Woods has proved them wrong, but then “Orientals” can’t drive fast cars in circles?) It contradicted itself. The word “Oriental” as a race descriptor went out with disco. But what’s more is that I don’t think Tawny is responsible for the “joke.”
She was obviously reading it when she said it, she was obviously uncomfortable with the wording and what’s more, she said “Indy 500″ in such a way that we knew she’d never heard of the event. Which brings us back to the “comedy writer” hired on to help these hapless souls. Did that professional dude write that “joke?” Did Tawny murder it so badly that the true (possibly funny) joke was lost? I need to know. So, Mr. Comedy Writer, since I’m positive you’re reading this right now (honestly, if you’ve been behind the scenes in TV and you finally appear on camera, and you fancy yourself funny, you’re TOTALLY reading this right now). So please, for the rest of us, tell us the real joke. Or you’ll never work in this town again. (You can email me in confidence, if that’s easier.)
The episode ended with Alexis pleading with Tawny to tone it down and not to attack Florence. But Tawny wasn’t hearing it and promised to “slap” the 72 year old Mrs. Carol Brady if she refused to answer her “Gotcha” questions. For “The Surreal Life,” this qualifies as a HUGE cliffhanger.
“Mom always said, ‘don’t play talk show host in the House’!”