Throw Away Your Television: Vh1’s Love & Hip Hop

Anybody happen to catch this show on VH1?  In short, it’s Basketball Wives meets Real Housewives meets Dipset, essential trashy Sunday night viewing when you don’t have HBO or Showtime.

It’s so great because it’s a reality show shot like a Hype Williams video from 1998.  Everything is staged.   The participants: Jim Jones, Olivia from G-Unit fame on the comeback trail, Capo’s loud and somewhat heinous looking girlfriend of 6 years, Fabolous’ longtime boo/babymama/full-time paid stylist, Swizz Beatz’s ex-baby mama that he left for Alicia Keys (upgrade), and this busty-er Amazonian upstart Minaj clone who thought it would be a good idea to move from LA to NYC to pursue a rapper career because Ortiz, Uncle Murda, Papoose, Jae Millz, and Saigon are doing so well in the rotten apple.

The confessionals are shot with extra high flourescent bulbs like the closeups in “Mo Money Mo Problems”.  Fab’s babymama has a tearful breakdown then runs to her Fabmobile, the Bentley, in hi-def slow motion like it was Foxy Brown’s “Gotta Get You Home” video.  Capo’s wiz’s handgestures are reminiscent of a young Earl Simmons when she speaks.  Jim Jones is on camera high out of his fucking skull for a good 10 mins of airtime. And everyone is coached to start shit wit a bitch over nuffin and/or “have each other’s back” when none of this chicks knew each other 10 minutes before the first cameraman showed up. 

It’s awful and trite, though not as corny as the “Brown Sugar” movie since the title of the show led me to believe it would be in that chamber, but I’ll check in just to see Jim Jones high on sour diesel laughing at nothing, getting tattoos, and judging more female boxing matches in New York night clubs because he’s a “hustler”.   If this show takes off, there will be an inevitable gimmick song Jones will put out to capitalize.  The adlibs will be glorious (“CONFESSIONS!”).  

Joe Budden is already taking notes on these chicks and their corresponding rap boyfriends/ex’s for future punchlines on the Slaughterhouse album.

The Gentleman’s Corner: Jersey Shore Edition

One of the best compliments a man should strive for is to be called a gentleman.  A gentleman carries himself with respect, class, humor, intelligence, and confidence.  He never allows himself to be taken advantage of, and he never loses control of himself in a pressing situation.  He opens doors for women.  He buys the first round of drinks.  He doesn’t talk on the cell phone while picking up his dry cleaning.  It’s simple respect, and the more he gives, the more he gets back. 

A “guy” makes things up as he goes along.  Sometimes he strikes it rich, other times he goes home quietly and falls asleep to Sportscenter.    A “player” builds himself up on illusions, shortcuts, and schemes to achieve his set goal of possessing or ensnaring women.  A gentleman uses wit, conversation, attention to detail, an air of playfulness and mystery.  Rejection doesn’t deter him from enjoying his time, nor does it fuel retribution to all future women he encounters.  Fast annonymous sex doesn’t validate his idealized power over women because his desires don’t stem from self-loathing and fear.  A gentleman is entitled to nothing; he knows how to cope with anything.  And his impression is always a positive one.

I bring up The Gentleman because I watch Jersey Shore.  I trust your intelligence and the likelihood that you have basic cable, so I won’t write an essay on the wonders of cheap sex, hair gel, and the burgeoning emergence of the Tan American (when being labeled a simple “Caucasian” just doesn’t do the trick, choose “Tan” on your next job application).  The latest episode I watched focused on Vinny, a misguided 22 year old momma’s boy from Staten Island with a hunger for homemade broccoli rabe, aviators at night, and waxed eyebrows.   

 

The women of Miami just can’t get enough of the guy after 4 am.  Look at him:  youthful Italian exuberence, babyfaced innocence, no visible effects of veneral diseases.  Even his female roommates are powerless to his vast knowledge of tank tops and cuddling.  But the episode “All in the Family” presents Vinny as a kid who can joyfully stick his traditional Italian American braciole into willing skanks, but deep down he’s a serial romantic looking for “wife material”.  And just like how Barack met Michelle, Vinny meets the girl of his dreams gyrating for attention at a club on South Beach. 

I’m now going to outline every single way Vinny blew it with the girl of his dreams, Ramona, then provide the Gentleman’s approach to the same situation for greater results.

Vinny’s approach
-Walk up to Ramona
-Tell her how beautiful she is
-Tell her you love her
-Tell her you couldn’t possibly even talk to another girl the rest of the night because she is a Bentley and other skeezers are Subaru Outbacks, more or less 
-Ask for her phone number
-Put tongue back in mouth
-Pump fist to “Sandstorm” in celebration

Gentleman’s approach:
-Walk up to Ramona
-Compliment her on a trivial underappreciated element of her outfit (purse, shoes, finger nails, etc)
-Discuss the merits of “Bad Boys 2” vs. “Scarface” as the ultimate tourist guide to Miami
-Do not tell her you love her because every drunken a-hole in the place has tried flattery and lust as a means to capture her.  She knows she’s hot, hence that $9 cranberry and vodka she did not pay for.
-Do not vow a night of celibacy in her honor because women see through bullshit and you will most likely break that vow with a slightly overweight housemate whose last name ends in a vowel anyway
-Politely ask to continue the conversation with her later because she is interesting and attractive and it’s much too noisy to get to know more about her in this wonderous environment
-Ask for her phone number
-Smile and then walk away

Vinny’s approach: 
-Declare Ramona, a total stranger you know next to nothing about, to be the type of woman you’d actually “take out on a date” and introduce to your mother
-Project extremely high expectations for you eventual long-term relationship with this stranger
-Call her the next day and awkwardly ask her to join you on a double date with two other strangers that night
-Buy new threads, get hair cut, and purchase flowers with Pauly D, your co-captain for tonight’s voyage on the Love Boat

Gentleman’s approach:
-Catch up on your reading, improve your eliptical training, relax in the jacuzzi with a copper mug filled with Mint Julep, go to a Marlins game with the fellas, then wait another three days to call Ramona
-Casually ask her when she is free
-Offer to pick her up at her home or to meet her at a moderately priced restaurant without Pauly D and his Cubana bombshell.  You want to get to know her
-Do not buy her flowers because that is subtely asking for acceptance and approval.  Wait until the 10th date, or her birthday, for flowers.  She has taken free gifts and free dinners from many other men in the past.  She has to earn it, the same way you have to be charming, interesting, and respectful to earn a second date

Vinny’s approach:
-Call Ramona a second time the same day for confirmation
-When she says she cannot make it tonight, tell her you understand then immediately hang up on her
-Mope and pout by the jacuzzi and await insight from Ronnie and The Situation
-Dramatize the entire exchange while expressing how much of a good guy you are.  Become frustrated that Ramona, a hottie stranger you met 15 hours ago at a club, doesn’t value your classy upbringing and immaculately shaped eyebrows

"How could she not be into you?"

Gentleman’s approach:
-Do not call Ramona a second time for confirmation.  You have already cemented definite plans with her on the first phone call, which lasted almost five minutes.
-If she calls back to cancel, tell her it’s quite alright and await for her to reschedule.  If she does not intiate plans for a make-up date, she’s giving you the brush off and you move on to another Bentley at the club.  She feels guilty but if she is interested, she’ll give you options to see her again.  If she does not give options, she feels guilty for even giving out her number, and she will be back at the club allowing other fine chaps to rub their crotches against her for free.

Vinny’s approach:
-Mope and pout around the house for another 2 hours
-Envy Pauly D, who had no problem securing a date with his future wife Cubana Whatshernamealina
-Devise a plan to convince Ramona to uncancel with you tonight by calling her a third time in the same day
Guilt her with charm and desperation: apologize for hanging up on her earlier with a flimsy excuse that you quickly gloss over, let her know about the flowers you already bought her and the pending engagement party The Sitaution is already planning with your Uncle Nino and thirty-seven other family members
-Hope against hope your romantic tactics were too much to turn down
-Fist pump in celebration to “Sandstorm” when Ramona awkwardly re-agrees to an awkward double date with your awkward creepy ass
-Sit around the house fully dressed for three hours while Ramona ducks your fourth call today
-Curse the Gods for smiting your journey to bliss with Ramona after she stands you up
-Put on Kid Cudi’s CD and relate totally.  Then meet up with your housemates at the club and rub your crotch on a Subaru Outback

Gentleman’s approach:
-Wish Pauly D all the best on his date and realize you probably dodged a bullet with the flaky Ramona.  Do not call Ramona again.  She has to contact you if there is any interest on her side.
-Catch the latest Noah Baumbauch film with JWoww, who LOVED “The Squid and the Whale”,  instead of moping around the house
-Take Ramona’s rejection with a grain of salt
-Do not listen to anything Ronnie or the bumbling Uncle Nino tell you about women ever
-Do not have sex with Snooki or Angelina tonight.  A gentleman never acts desperately or uses sex as therapy.  A gentleman also doesn’t sleep with women he shares a house with unless they are in committed relationship
-Take pride in your youth, your celebrity that you worked very little to earn, and remember that everything you’re doing now with be on tape, archived and recorded for future viewing to the world for the rest of your life
-Put on your Dean Martin CD, make a fresh Sambuca Con Mosca, and feel fucking invicible.  And Italian.

Sit Down. Close the Door.

***SPOILER ALERT***

There’s something to be said about a television show that keeps me energized and invorgated almost 14 hours after watching it.  I’ve been burning through every TV critic’s blog after the opus that was the Season 3 finale of “Mad Men” last night. 

It had it all.  Tons of laughs.  Near domestic abuse.  Good ol’ British sneers.  The ill cashmere V-neck Don wears as he tells the kids daddy is gonna be shaking up in a bachelor pad in Manhattan.  Secret marriages in Reno.  And the promise for a brand new show next year that will certainly look and feel and move wholly differently than the past three.

I’m a TV junkie.  TV is so good right now that new films and DVD’s take a backseat like a dumpster baby in my spare time dedicated to consuming as much media as possible on a weekly basis.  My mark of a great television show is as follows: as soon as the episode ends, I begin replaying it in my mind to consume every nuance (The Prisoner, Mad Men, The Wire, Twin Peaks), memorizing and laughing at quotable jokes  like an old hillbilly skinning a ferret (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Parks and Recreation, Bored to Death, Modern Family), and feeling immediately strung out and dilapidated as a Motley Crue guitarist fresh outta H while I wait for next week’s episode (Damages, Lost). 

Consequently, I know a show has jumped the shark when the following actions take place:

-I only watch it on DVR and find myself fast forwarding to the main character’s screen time because every other character and plotline has devolved horrendously (House, Dexter) over the years.

-I DVR it because I won’t be home to watch it live…and the next thing I know it’s 3-4 days later and I watch the show only out of habit (Season 6 of 24, Season 2 of Heroes).

-The plot becomes so tired (Entourage) or so insultingly far fetched and re-hashed (Alias) that I cut it off cold turkey to minimize loss and to appreciate the good seasons. 

Last night’s Mad Men, in relation to the rest of season three, was like watching your favorite basketball player coast through three quarters on autopilot, dishing the ball, feeling out the defense, setting up his favorite teammates to keep the game close and then BOOM! dropping 35 points in the fourth quarter.  You walk away from that game thinking, “You know, that guy’s way too good to be so conservative and economical.  He HAD to be setting us up for that fourth quarter.”  And then you’re up until 1am, geeked up on adrenaline and fanboy opiates exploding every 5 minutes when you think back to your favorite moments.

Kudos to Matt Weiner and the writing team for delivering tenfold on the finale.  See you next year!

I’m Sending In The Wolf

From the neck down, that could be Robin Williams

From the neck down, that could be Robin Williams

MTV is going to remake the epic 80’s wolf comedy Teen Wolf into a weekly show.

Not cool, MTV.  Not cool. 

5 reasons why this will fail horribly:

1.  Rupert “Stiles” Stilinski is one of the most iconic 80’s characters of all time.  In the pantheon of Cocky/Dorky Friend of Main Character With a Quirky and Vaguely Homosexual Name Who is a Big Talker but Gets Clowned At Every Turn, Stiles is Earl Manigault.  You wanted to punch him in the face and then immediately go roof surfing with him.  Stiles always seemed like he would grow up to be Jerry Heller.  No one wanted to be Stiles when Teen Wolf came out, but 20 years later, he’s actually winning.

2.  This scene was so badass that I can’t imagine MTV having the minerals to pay homage to it.  It’s also the most accurate action taken by Michael J. Fox as the Wolf–destroying cans of beer with his new fangs.  I doubt an actual Teen Wolf would care enough about baskebtall to do suicide drills and practice the bounce pass to his center in the post.  Teen Wolf would want to party, hump, and possibly kill things.  The MTV weekly series will probably make him a paperboy whose dead set on going to college or some other lame shit

Oh Boof!

Oh Boof!

3.  Boof was hot.  Boof.  I just like saying her name.  And looking at it on my computer screen.  Boof.  Boof is also an all-time champion in the Hall of the Fame for “Childhood Friend of the Main Character Who is Secretly Smoking Hot but Goes Unnoticed Until the End Because the Guy is Too busy Chasing Perrier Skanks”.  Her character’s actual name was Lisa Marconi.  Use your imgination to determine where “Boof” came from.  I know I did ALOT in the 80’s.

4.  Chubby.  This guy played a key role not only in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure but as the lovable fat slob who is clearly 34 years old but still attends high school because of a severe learning disorder and because his dad was the janitor for 40 years.  Chubby is one of the teammates on the b-ball team that gets inspired by the Wolf’s charisma and Vince Carter-like hops to actually box out, get some put-backs, and sink a key free throw in the championship game.  MTV is looking to cash in on the True Blood/Twilight goldmine that is saving several studio heads from unemployment.  There will be no room for a character like Chubby because they want something “dark” and “sexy” but “modernized”.  Look at this guy.  The writing’s on the wall.

5.  TV versions of good-to-great movies mainly suck cow chode.  For every Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there’s dogshit TV versions of  Ferris Bueller, Indiana Jones, and Uncle Buck.  Even campy crap movies like Harry and the Hendersons have bombed on televsion.  It’s an absolute crap shoot, even when a film reaches cult status or makes a billion dollars.  Remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the TV show?  No?  It lost big money, XFL-style.  It’s like drafting a white shooting guard: enter at your own risk.

The moral of the story is try to adapt a TV series into a movie.  Like “Land of the Lost”.

Limit Your Exposure

“I love that this show can make me say “Don Draper is such a fucking good guy” right after watching him cheat on his pregnant wife”–commenter on The AV Club

I’m a HUGE fan of Mad Men so I was peeing my pants with excitement last night when Season 3 premiered on AMC.  I’m not going to do full re-caps of each episode–The TV Club over at The AV Club does it perfectly with all of my favorite shows.  I will dispense some things that jumped out in my mind of each episode though. 

  • When your mother is a man-hating whore who abandons you, it’s pretty difficult to unconditionally love and honor your wife.  That seems to be a part of Don Draper/Dick Whitman’s struggles with fidelity.
  • After they fired the Account Manager, I noticed that when he stormed out onto the floor and knocked over stationery, he was still in his socks.  Always take your shoes off before enterting Bert Cooper’s office–even when you’re getting shitcanned.
  • I loved how this episode’s big client was London Fog.  As a kid, I remember feeling grateful to own a London Fog winter jacket .  It made me feel worldly and sophisticated at 7 years old.  Turns out the “fog” was just the dust and grime in the air blowing over from the factories and debris from the war.  Dammit.
  • Loved how Joanie still asserts the little remaining power she has left to that limey office assistant to the big British cheese.  While the girls swoon over him, she sticks him in a glorified broom closet disguised as an office, which he later gets slammed for.  Smart move, Red.
  • Even when he’s getting a promotion, Pete makes every single moment of his interactions as excrutiatingly uncomfortable as possible.  Conversely, Ken getting the same job felt smooth and fun, like he was about to hit the beach and drink some Corona’s. 
  • “Have a cigar, but don’t touch the Stoli”–even when Roger Sterling isn’t given much to do, he’s still cutting people down to size and loving himself for doing it.
  • Sal looked like he was about to throw up a dining room set when Don appeared to be ousting him on the plane.  Turns out he gave him an idea for an ad, and cautionary piece of advice.  Even when he’s catching gay men in their secret lives, Don Draper can still sell a raincoat AND dish out wisdom.
  • Peter Campbell: The Buck Stops Here

If I left out any of your favorite moments, share them below.  I might make this a weekly feature.  If not, I’ll still keep up my post-Mad Men Monday morning routine of Bourbon and cigarettes at 9am.