Thursday, February 28, 2008

Games Celebrities Play

Remember when Thursday night television featured the best comedies the networks had to offer? If you've been watching The Celebrity Apprentice, then you know that Thursday is still the best night for comedy, even without 30 Rock. The first thing to consider here is the Trump notion of "celebrity." I'm fairly certain the casting director was told to ensure that the Donald would be the biggest "celebrity" on the show, so what we're left with are a couple of people I've heard of (Carol Alt, Lennox Lewis, the ubiquitous Marilu Henner), a bunch of "Oh, it's that guy" types (the guy who played Big Pussy, the ugliest Baldwin, a tall country singer), and of course Gene Simmons and Omarosa, who is obviously now so famous she needs only one name. Then there are the people I've never heard of - some ultimate fighter named Tito or Tino or something, some pasty tabloid editor from England, some Olympic softball player.

Most of these "celebrities" have been fired. In fact, we're down to six contestants: Carol Alt, country dude, ugly Baldwin, tabloid jerk, Lennox Lewis, and Omarosa. The Baldwin thinks he's Billy, but he's not that good looking, and he dresses like Alec as his Glenngary Glenn Ross character. The tabloid jerk thinks he's smarter than everybody and proves the stereotype of the drunken Englishman. Country dude has a deep voice and often seems confused about the whole affair. Carol Alt is surprisingly serious and, well, Carol Alt, so at least there's something nice to look at each week. Lennox Lewis spends a lot of time trying to look as cuddly as possible, which is not that cuddly. And Omarosa argues with everyone, has had some work done, uses too much make-up, and seems convinced that she is in fact a celebrity. In other words, the whole thing should be a train wreck but somehow it's not.

Some of the fun is that the ridiculous pretext that this is a "job" interview has been removed. The winning "celebrity" will not have to spend a year pretending to work in the Trump organization, and instead wins a large check for his or her designated charity. Each week the winning PM also gets a check for his or her charity. So, for these people there's really little at stake. With the exception of Omarosa they have lives to which to return, and they aren't on the show because they're famewhores but because they already have some measure of fame. Not one of these people have really cared about being fired, and they all know it's a game (again, with the exception of Omarosa, for whom being on reality shows is a career). This makes the show refreshing.

Most reality shows center around "bartenders" in their early 20s getting drunk, fighting, hooking up. Here we have instead the middle-aged, bickering. And they do bicker. Tabloid jerk drove Big Pussy right off the show and has a small ongoing feud with the Baldwin and a huge hatred of Omarosa. In fact, it's the enmity between the Brit and the bitch that creates the comedy. He manages to silence her with his barbs; she pours champagne on his head and tries to look superior. Who needs the travails of Jim and Pam when we can have this?

The biggest improvement over previous incarnations of the show is that it's really not about Donald Trump. It's not about impressing him, not about pretending to want to work for him, not about "emulating" his success in "business." It's about semi-famous people playing a game for charity and being good sports about it while they bicker with each other. I don't know how many episodes are left - I'm thinking it will be gone by April in order to make room for new episodes of the regular Thursday programs - but do try to catch it before the show is itself fired.

2 comments:

tunsie said...

benjamin said I was invited to a basketball game between the phillipsburg police and the phila eagles by a policeman.while enjoying my favorite sport in a charity manner.one of the players became injured.i hope none of the celebrities break any bones while running 4 trump.they will have 2 write the injury into the script of their show.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

tunsie said...

A classic adolescent trait is bickering and the people who try their case inpublic away from the object that is angering them HE SAID SHE SAID.I hope that the bickering is part of the scipt because i wouldn't want to deal with these children in real life.something a majority of the people r detached from. GROW UP.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie