Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel": A Critical Reappraisal

"Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel" is a television program in which grotesquely oversized steroid-addled higher primates with a surprising amount of disposable income and the microbikini-clad females who mate with them purchase $1,000 bottles of champagne, jump up and down and shout "REHAAAAAAAB" into a camera, and get into fights around a hotel swimming pool in Las Vegas, Nevada. I've previously considered the merits, or lack thereof, of the show, but it's been a few years and it seems time to revisit the topic.

(I don't believe the show is, as my friend Generic would put it, a Signpost of Cultural Death, although, it is true, that in 2008 I called it "yet more evidence of the decline and fall of whatever was left of American civilization." That seems a little harsh to me now.)

Long story short, this season isn't as good as last season.

(I know, I'm actually comparing seasons of "Rehab" now. Hey, life can't all be Jonathan Franzen.)

For lack of a better word, this season just seems staged. I know what you're saying: "When did you undergo a frontal lobotomy?" I mean, "What do you mean, staged? Aren't all reality shows staged?" Well, no, not really, and if they are, sort of, not as blatantly, I guess.

This is Jonna, which, for some reason, is pronounced "Jon-NAY." Recognize her? If you do, you have no room to talk to me right now, because you recognize her from The Real World season in Cancun.

(Let's pause here for a second. I don't watch the Real World any more, and I think I only saw a few episodes of the Cancun season, but it really is amazing that a show that started out with some charged conversations about race and class has devolved into essentially a multi-episode filmed Spring Break with more booze and dumber people. Also, the Cancun season featured something named "Ayiiia," three "I's," which sounds very much like the name of one of the blue things in "Avatar." Anyway.)

Why did I post her picture? I forget. Oh wait, I remember. Because she is on the show not as an actual waitress, like the waitresses in the first season, but as an actress playing a Goofy Waitress who Always Fucks Up and Is in Trouble All the Time. Krazy Hijinx ensue. They got rid of the first season manager, Justin, a normalish guy with a regular-looking girlfriend who didn't appear to be a bikini model or stripper, and replaced him with MATT, a combative little megalomaniac whose job seems to consist chiefly of apoplectic outbursts of sheer and unvarnished rage directed at his hapless staff, who seem to be trapped in some kind of Stockholm Syndrome relationship with their terrorizing nemesis.

It goes on. Whole episodes seem staged now, what with a troupe of drunk midget wrestlers causing problems or the inevitable don't-let-my-fiancee-catch-me bachelor party or the escaped snake or whatever.

I suppose the viewing interest here is essentially the same as something like "Jersey Shore" or, going back a ways, touring the Bethlem Royal Hospital to point and jeer at the hapless inmates within; something between an interest in a strange and foreign subculture and the basic need to feel superior. But, that being the case, TruTV, give me the actual subculture. Believe me, it doesn't need your help.

1 comment:

Skance said...

Real World Cancun has a cutter, lesbian action, a gay poolside fight and was STILL boring. Even I, avid CW (formerly the dubba,dubba,dubba,dubba,double u b) watcher can stand a second of "Rehab".