Tuesday, September 06, 2005


In the beginning of the summer, it looked to be a fairly dismal TV season, with only a few items warranting notice:
  • True Entertainment, a reality TV production company and subsidary of Endemol (oh, no, that’s Big Brother's Big Brother) announced in July that they’re looking to air a new series centered around contestants looking to be political operatives when they grow up; in other words, they’re looking for the next, better-looking, Karl Rove. I would actually watch this show, which bodes ill for its future;
  • The continued delight of “Laguna Beach,” (MTV, Mondays at 10p) and the sudden shock that “Big Brother 6” (CBS; Tuesday at 9p , Thursday and Saturday at 8p) was watchable and even kinda interesting, despite the long (and continuing) history of insipid contests and contestants. This season, though, we are treated to a substantial population who avow that the secret to winning is by playing smarter—it almost never works out that way—and blessed with a group who think they are smarter than they really are.
Haifa Wehbe with goats (For Her)
Haifa Wehbe on the cover
of For Her

But, as usual, the most illuminating and important stories are taking place outside of our field-of-view: in the Arab world, “Al-Wadi,” a reality program that looks to be a hybrid between “Big Brother” (the popular Middle East Broadcasting Centre edition of the franchise was abruptly cancelled in last year’s inaugural season) and “The Simple Life,” is aired by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation and is taking the region by storm.

On “Al-Wadi,” video-clip siren Haifa Wehbe plays Paris Hilton [see inset, left]; so, the esteemed Abu Aardvark can be expected to be on the case in his usual coverage of The Nancy-Haifa Culture Wars. The show’s website has to be seen to be believed; anyone who watches the slightest bit of reality television will have no problem recognizing common scenes, tropes, and situations. Here’s Haifa, clad in a L.A. Lakers tank-top, in a snap that could be out of the American BB; and a fetching Haifa posing with a burro (images courtesy of Marc Lynch).

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Blogger mernitman said...

fascinating as usual... so: should I shell out for the 1st season of Laguna Beach on DVD, or just dive into the new season (having not caught a single episode as yet)?

4:18 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Welcome back, dude.

You've perhaps already absorbed the substance of Laguna Beach, given that you've been thinking about the nitty-gritty of romance for a long time, but I can't get enough of it. I love seeing the kids riding home from a date after they've just gotten laid, as delirious as they can be; the dread (and denial) when they know it's not going to work out; the comraderie when they're surfing, or going to a formal, or just hanging out; the pain of not being confident enough to say what you're really feeling; the frustration of unrequited love; the carom from girl-to-girl (or boy-to-boy); the different shades of love and lust and friendship and how baffling it all seems; the realization that there are only a very few kinds of lovers.

I understand why folks find it banal, because it is, but at the same time it's pretty much the most fascinating, essential stuff: folks are never as real as they are when they're mating.

I only saw an ep or two of the first season and just picked it up on DVD myself—$20 at our local record store—but you can pick it up pretty fast by catching reruns on MTV (exactly how I did it): repair to the TiVo.

1:17 AM  

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