Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Last Call for the Delusional

The end of the "regular" TV season means the beginning of the "summer" season, which is in many ways good news. Mad Men returns in August, for example, and True Blood will be back this summer as well. The bitter always comes along with the sweet, though, and this week will be the last time to watch, possibly ever, two of reality television's most ridiculous and despicable participants. Of couse I'm talking about Ben "Coach" Wade on Survivor and Kelly Bensimon on The Real Housewives of New York City. Who else could it be?

If you haven't been watching, let me catch you up. I have no idea what Coach's real biography would include, but he claims to have been a trumpet prodigy, to hold the record for longest solo kayaking trip down the Amazon, to have been captured by pygmies on said trip and to have escaped from them just as they were about to slice apart his ass and eat it, to hold the world's highest honors in a martial art so secret no one knows about it and he can't even say its name, to be a world-class symphony conductor, and to be the most successful women's soccer coach in the world, ever.

In confessionals he calls himself "Dragonslayer" and then claims that the tribe has nicknamed him "dragonslayer." He believes he can control minds with his eyes and that he is in control of the game, even as each of his "allies" has been voted off, one by one. His body is covered with fake tribal tatoos, he wears his hair in a Steven Segal style adorned with feathers, and his delusions seem to know no bounds. Despite his claims to physical strength and mental acumen, he is completely ineffectual in challenges, and has been carried along late into the game precisely because he is nonthreatening and expendable. It's worth watching to see the clash between his self-regard and the disdain of all around him. You can watch the last regular episode of the season Thursday at 8 on CBS; the season finale airs Sunday at 8.

The facts of Ms. Bensimon's biography are better known. She was a model, and she did in fact serve as "editor" of the short-lived Elle Accessories magazine. She was in fact married to a famous fashion photographer. She was also recently arrested for assaulting her boyfriend, although I doubt she includes that on her resume. Also withheld from the bio is the fact that she appears to either be stupid or drug-addled, that she has trouble putting a simple sentence together, and that, like Coach, her self-regard has no limits. She is clearly a person that everyone, everyone, ends up hating. On a show built around cat fights and strangers hating strangers, Kelly has managed the singular feat of making each and every other participant cringe at her presence.

I don't know and will never know Kelly, but I hate her as well, for two simple reasons:

1. She is always seen flitting from place to place in completely inappropriate outfits, like short skirts with flourescent green Wellies, which is bad enough, but what's incomprehensible is the fact that she appears to never have a purse, bag, wallet, or keys. As if she expects her bill will be paid by someone else, as if she expects someone will appear to unlock her door, as if she expects whatever needs arise during an outing will be met by those around her. Hate.

2. In one memorable clip, a Kelly VO intones, "I love running in NYC. You just throw on some shoes and you go." We then pan to a shot of Kelly, sans purse, keys, bag, etc., jogging down the middle of 5th Avenue in midtown, surrounded by traffic. Plenty of people go running in Manhattan; no one runs in the middle of traffic. Of all the unrealistic things about this scene, the most unrealistic thing of all was the fact that a cabbie didn't just run her over.

The title of this series is ironic. It is not about the "reality" of "housewives" in the OC, Atlanta, NY, or, beginning tonight, New Jersey. It is instead about the fake, the pursuit of youth through chemicals and surgery, the replacement of class with lifestyle, the substitution of shopping for intimacy. In a world of fakery, Kelly stands out as fake, and that's really saying something. The season ended last Tuesday, but Bravo runs marathons pretty much endlessly. You don't need to have seen a second of the show to enjoy the reunion show airing at 10 tonight (with part two airing Thursday at 9). Housewives reunion shows are always filled with acrimony, accusations, tears, and cocktails, and this one promises all of the above.

In a fair and sane world, this will be your last chance to see these two in action. In a fair and sane world, Coach will be banished from screens both large and small after Sunday, and Kelly will not be asked back for the next NYC season. Let's hope that the world is in fact fair and sane, and tune in this week to catch them while you can.

1 comment:

tunsie said...

don't watch any of that crappy television,instead watch the last lecture on youtube.it puts it all in perspective.tunsie