Wednesday, November 18, 2009

YMD's Super Sweet Sixteen: REALITY EDITION (pt. 1)

This was an amazing decade for television. It featured an amazing run of hour long dramas (the Wire, the Sopranos, Mad Men, Lost, L&O: Criminal Intent) that were eons ahead of the best the 90s had to offer and reawakened its funny bone a few years in with gems like Undeclared, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Office (UK and US), Parks and Recreation (which has gotten amazing this season), the Venture Brothers, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

But a large part of this decade's narrative will undoubtedly be written about the decade that reality TV took over in a cynical attempt by the networks to cut costs, put actors out of work, and turn our brains to mush. Whatever. While reality television may not have the brilliant acting and sophisticated plotting of Party of Five or the Nanny, they have developed their own set of conventions, characterizations, and narrative devices. It's been amazing, enlightening, and batshit crazy, and I am honored to present Yes More Drama's Sweet Sixteen Reality Show Characters of the Decade.

16. Teresa Giudice (Real Housewives of New Jersey)
Teresa may not have consistently been the most entertaining Real Housewife, but she is responsible for one of my favorite catchphrases of the decade, and easily my favorite of the year so far. In an argument so intense Bravo took 4 episodes (the actual episode, a "Director's Cut" of the argument, and 2 reunions) to sum it up, Teresa famously uttered the best insult anyone has ever uttered, calling poor ex-something-or-other Danielle a "prostitution whore" before flipping a fucking table. Bravo.

15. Bret Michaels (Rock of Loves 1 thru Bus)
He has the finest European horse hair money can buy. Enough said.

14. Hayley Ray (Dr. 90210)
Sure, Robert Ray's blatant sleeveless flouting of health codes and martial artistry may be more central to the show, but if you combined the tragedy of all of his victims patients you still wouldn't come close to the sadness coming through the screen every time his poor, domineered wife is on the screen. She's probably the reality character you most want to (wrap in bubble wrap and then) give a hug and say everything is going to be all right (even though you know it isn't).

13. Flavor Flav (the Surreal Life, Strange Love, Flavors of Love)
I saw Public Enemy last year, and Flav said something about being the King of Reality TV and a few folks booed and I think I booed them. Flav's TV persona is no different from his PE persona, except instead of having Chuck D to play off of he has a house full of equally silly and much dumber people to frolic with. A pioneer in the field.

12. Daisy de la Hoya (Rock of Love 2, Daisy of Love)
I was tempted to include Riki Rachtman for his mountains of pathetic well-meaning but he just missed the cut and anyways, there would be no Riki (as a reality character) without Daisy's constant terrible decisions. She is the best though. Her "face" alone makes her inclusion necessary, a face seemingly designed to portray some exploded, carnivalesque version of what "cute" means, those permanent-pout lips, those huge eyes. When she cries, the world cries with her but sort of laughs too.

11. Cohutta Grindstaff (Real World: Sydney, RW/RR: the Island, RW/RR: the Ruins)
With apologies to the Miz (a Real World character whose life goal actually came through), C.T. (the supreme loud idiot of them all), Evan (a RW/RR: Fresh Meat entrant, wise-ass, and maybe the most effective overall player, in terms of a combination of plotting and physical aptitude), David ("dee-da-boo-dee-da-boo-dee"), the drunk Las Vegas shitheads, Hollywood Joey ("what you gonna do when the 12 steps run wild on you?"), and a legion of other idiots, Cohutta is our only Real World Universe rep. The RW/RR challenges have become much more interesting and fun to watch than the actual Real World, and we can only hope he keeps featuring in them. Cohutta is television's premier source of homespun wisdom and endlessly likable. His elimination of self-righteous idiot bully Wes (who dates Cohutta's ex-gf) on this season of The Runs was a special moment.

10. Kelly Cutrone (the Hills, the City)
Kelly is an essential and unique part of the Laguniverse (I really hope I just coined that) in that she, about a thousand times more than anyone else on those shows, acts like she's completely unaware of the show. Now, obviously she is aware of this and the show takes advantage of it, but the amount of Real Talk she lays down on the regular is astounding considering the show she's on. She is by far the best part of the City and brings so much fury that her walking into frame in a recent episode provoked an audible gasp from my viewing companions and I.

9. Spencer Pratt (the Princes of Malibu, the Hills, I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here)
This renowned drinker of "whatever is better than Patron" is basically an undergraduate course in postmodernist narrative unto himself and/or an idiot. He is as great at being a cartoon villain as he is about talking about being a cartoon villain (see his starring performance on I'm a Celebrity or well, don't see too much of it, that show mostly sucked except for Spencer, LDP, and Patty Blago). He is the opposite of Kelly Cutrone in that he exposes the business at every turn. And now he has a silly cowboy hat.

Whew. Stay tuned for the top 8 soon.

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