A few weeks ago, I brazenly suggested that There and Back was one of the worst reality shows of all time. I still stand by that statement, and yet I have been compelled to watch every episode since then. Granted, I haven’t always had the time to recap all of Ashley’s exploits — the high point being his inability to operate an automatic door — but the curiosity factor has certainly hooked me. Just how affably dumb can this guy be? The answer: VERY.This week’s show started off with Ashley telling us that his birthday was coming up, but in typical doe-eyed fashion, he said he didn’t want Tiffany to go out of her way at all. Of course, we knew that was exactly what would happen. Nevertheless, after the generic opening credits, we then found ourselves in Glendale, California, a.k.a. Ashley’s newish ‘hood. He and Tiffany lay in bed together, pondering such weighty topics as sleep and how much they love sleep and wanting to sleep all day and oh yeah, Dan’s coming over today! Yay! (Uh, who?) After stroking his chest one time too many (at least for me), Tiff then put on her baby-talk voice and said, “Baby, your birthday’s coming up soon!” BABY!!! It’s coming up, BABY!!!
But babe, Ashley doesn’t want to do anything for his birthday! Babe, he never celebrated his birthday as a kid. Don’t you hear me, BABE? Well, Tiffany was not happy with this response, and said, you guessed it, “Baby…” This was then followed by, “I don’t like that answer, baby. That wasn’t what I was looking for.” Around this time I was sort of wishing that Scarlet would come in and hit them both over the head with a frying pan.
Well, despite his protests, Tiffany went ahead and began planning a surprise party while Ashley stepped outside to call his manager Larry, a.k.a. the only man proud to share names with “Leisure Suit Larry.” Anyway, Ashley had some pressing financial issues, as usual. “Every time I check my bank account, I get freaked out,” he said. Huh. Then maybe you shouldn’t have bought a house. It’s called “waiting until you’ve saved up the money.” I know, crazy concept.
Later on, Dan showed up at the house. Who’s Dan? Well, just another crazy cat from O-Town! He was in G-Town (that’s Glendale Town) as part of the “Boys of Summer” tour, or as its more commonly known: the worst tour of all time. Yes, this wonderful tour featured all sorts of former boy band guys like Jordan Knight and Jeff Timmons (From 98 Degrees. The non-Lachey one. No, not the dorky guy with the beard. The other one).
Anyway, Ashley introduced Dan to Scarlet (who shockingly was not chugging down a margarita), and then the two took a stroll down memory lane as they watched home videos of the O-Town days. Was it me, or did Ashley sort of look older than he does now when he was younger? Did that make sense? Oh, never mind.
Afterwards, the guys headed into the kitchen where Tiffany was carving out an avocado and then mused about life after boy band. “What we do after the group is gonna do so much more to like justify…” Dan said, trailing off. “…the members of O-Town actually being talented,” Ashley said, finishing the sentence. Yes, what you guys are doing now really will prove to the world what wonderful artists you are. For instance, Dan’s boy band tour is very impressive. And hey, Ashley’s doing a reality show! Two luminaries indeed! Somebody call the Kennedy Center!
Just when this summer afternoon was shaping up to be one of the very best ever, bad news descended from on high. Tiffany discovered that the Boys of Summer concert at the House of Blues HAD BEEN CANCELLED!! Could this be true? Yup. Dan went to the internet and read the news with his own two eyes, causing Ashley to pop out of the scene (oh god) and address us in his trademark way. “This is awkward!” he said. You don’t know the half of it.
“We used to sell out our tours, and now this? Poor Dan!” Ash continued. “What do I say? Do I change the subject and compliment his hat? Should we watch more O-Town videos? I don’t know. That might make him feel worse!” What a predicament! Well, the screen unfroze, and Dan ambled out of the house in high spirits (although you could tell he was crying inside. As Ashley said, poor Dan!!).
The next morning, Ash announced at breakfast that he wanted to have a yard sale, but Tiffany quickly shot him down. “We’re not having a yard sale in this neighborhood. It’s a nice neighborhood!” Look, it’s Glendale, not Bel Air. And furthermore, what the hell did Tiffany put on her breakfast? I know I saw her use the maple syrup, but that was some of the nastiest shit I’d ever seen. It’s like she’d doused her waffles with swamp water. Or something worse.
Well, despite Tiffany’s protests, Ashley went ahead with his yard sale, which was the perfect opportunity for Scarlet to crack open some morning Heinekens and hone her inner-alcoholic. Amazingly, people showed up to this bauble showcase, which featured knickknacks from all the finest souvenir shops in America. I was personally shocked — SHOCKED — that Ash would offer up his metallic replica of the Chrysler Building, but maybe that’s because he thought it was the Empire State Building (the dumbass had this thing for years and thought it was a completely different building. Awesome).
Later, a woman in an old car pulled up at the yard sale and simply watched from the comforts of the drivers seat. This spooked Ashley out (then again, I’m sure styrofoam peanuts freak him out too. “Hey babe, I think there’s styrofoam in here. Can you check it out??” Cut to the screen pausing and Ashley telling us, “This is scary. I hate styrofoam peanuts. Hopefully Tiffany can help me out. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”)
Anyhoo, the lady in the car finally stepped out, revealing the one-two punch of a fat ass and a nifty fanny pack. She may have been unsightly, but I enjoyed this kooky woman — almost as much as she enjoyed pressing Ashley on prices. She manhandled many of the objects, including an oversized metal jack, and then ultimately plunked down some cold, hard cash for various mint-condition Superman memorabilia. Amazingly, Ashley sold most of the Superman stuff for $5, and I’m no appraiser, but I gotta figure that stuff was wroth more than that. I mean, has he even heard of eBay?
Elsewhere on the lawn, Scarlet was downing a few more beers, commenting, “This beer sure is good because it’s so hot out here.” Another thing that makes it taste so good: your rampant alcoholism.
“You need to drink your beer, honey, and stop being lagging behind. I’m almost done,” Scarlet then told Ashley. You know, I’d love to see Scarlet in a bar fight. Because we all know she’s been in them before. Heck, she was probably in one two hours earlier.
Meanwhile, financial guru Ashley continued to sell off his belongings, taking a mere $40 for what looked to be quite the expensive keyboard. Tiffany said he could have gotten $50 for it. I would have said $100. And I would have sold it on eBay, but now I’m just repeating myself.
Later, Ashley signed an unopened, rare, Asian-edition of an O-Town CD for Marilyn (fanny pack woman). And how much was this relic of boy band memorabilia? Oh, a whopping $1.50. Congratulations, Ashley. You’ve officially become sad.
Luckily for the fam, Ashley managed to raise a whole $154.50, which should pay for the cases of Zima that Scarlet probably had waiting in layaway. Ashley then headed off to his music producer’s house (Shep Soloman, clearly the son of a Navajo Chief and a yenta), and as he walked by a pool, the screen suddenly froze, and we had by far the most ridiculous Ashley Parker Angel still shot yet. First, Ashley stepped onto the brick hot tub wall in the pool and “balanced,” and then he went all Jesus-y by simply walking on top of the pool’s surface, which just so happened to ripple with each footstep. Okay, producers. You’re having fun with your visual effects. WE GET IT.
Anyway, once this distracting bit of FX passed, we then commenced a back-and-forth montage of Ashley working on his music and Tiffany preparing the big surprise party. This basically consisted of Tiffany using her baby voice to coerce friends to stop by the house and Shep straining his vocal chords as he attempted to sing Ashley’s music.
Well, for better or worse, the music production was going nicely, but Tiffany was coming to the realization that no one actually wanted to come to Ashley’s party. So what did she do? You guessed it: cried. As tears rolled down Tiff’s cheeks, Scarlet tried to cheer up her daughter: “Look, she’s gonna let go of all these balloons, and we’ll put them all out, and you know how much Ashley loves balloons.” Okay, first of all, is Tiffany five years old? And second of all, did Scarlet just say, “You know how much Ashley loves balloons?” What the? Is Ashley five years old too? Or maybe just borderline mentally challenged? I can just imagine Ashley going to a carnival and chasing a balloon around, pointing and giggling, perhaps screaming “Bawooon! Bawooon!”
With nothing better to do other than whine (her only natural talent), Tiffany called up Ashley and asked, “Baby, do you think the baby hates me?” That’s a two “baby” violation, I’d like to point out. And yes, I do think the baby hates you, Tiffany. Mostly because you keep talking shit about it. I’m sorry, I should use the baby’s name: LYRIC.
Well, Ashley tried to quell Tiffany’s nerves by saying how she’s just freaking out, much the way Scarlet yells and screams during traffic. And because Tiffany is such a thoughtful person, she let Ashley go on and on about Scarlet’s road rage, not bothering to tell him that he was a) on speakerphone and b) within Scarlet’s earshot. (Of course, it’s sort of Ashley’s fault for not realizing he was on speakerphone. Then again, he is an idiot). Well, Scarlet was not happy with Ashley’s rant and shot him (or the phone, really) the finger. Okay, no one wants to hear someone talking about them behind their backs, but seriously, all Ashley was doing was saying how Scarlet yells and screams during traffic. Let’s not be ridiculous with the middle fingers and such. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration just how drunk Scarlet was at this point. For all we knew, she was hearing her ex-husband cursing her out in her brain.
Anyway, Ashley eventually arrived home and surprise! Happy birthday! And look, Ashley! Ballloons!! Your favorite!! Well, Ash went around and greeted all his guests including two former O-Town guys and… Donald Faison (huh? He’s way too cool to be hanging out here).
Before we could party too hard though, Ashley and Scarlet had a private, obviously staged scene where he apologized to her for what he had said on the phone. Scar explained that at first, she was annoyed but knew he wasn’t being sneaky because, “You don’t have a sneaky bone in your body.” At this point, Ashley gave her a relieved look that seemed to say, “REALLY???” — almost like he feared that maybe, just maybe, he did in fact have a sneaky bone in his body.
With Ash and Scar on good terms again, we rejoined the party for more fun, and when the cake came out, we got one last wonderful freeze frame. Ash turned to the camera and told us that he really thought this year would be his year. Well, duh. You have a reality show on MTV. Of course this year will be your year. Now get Scarlet a Long Island Iced Tea before she gets the shakes.
What did you think about this episode? Does anyone else secretly wish they had been to Ashley’s yard sale?