August 26, 2005

By The Water Cooler

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For television lovers everywhere, summer is usually a dry season, between season finales and season premieres. Our favorite shows are all temporarily on hiatus and we’ve got nothing but reruns to keep us company. Enter the new network plan: bomb summer with shows as equally frivolous as viewers’ everyday agenda. Here is the genius behind shows like Kept, Dancing With the Stars and Hit Me Baby One More Time, thankfully none of which are being covered in the following story. So what did we watch this summer? Only the best that trashy TV could offer, of course and if you hurry, you can probably catch a glimpse yourself before substantial fall programming begins to emerge.

The Real World: Austin

Before this summer, I had never watched The Real World and it wasn’t until an extremely slow Saturday afternoon spent at a friend’s condo in front of her roommate’s shamelessly huge flatscreen TV that I finally decided to give it a try. You see, that was when I discovered the train wreck that was The Real World: Austin and let me tell you, there’s just something horribly delightful about watching a camera being shoved in someone’s face as they’re in one of the following moods: drunkenness, pain or anger. Yeah I know, this is old news. For a newbie, however, it was great. I just couldn’t stop watching super-anal Lacey attempt to actually be productive while at the same time dressing like a cross between Lydia Deitz, a schoolteacher and a nun.

Sure there was also super annoying, punch-worthy Wes and the unthreatening minority quota filled by Nehemiah, but the thing about Real World: Austin that kept me hooked besides the shameless heaps of willing groupies was the all-American couple: Danny and Mel. Admit it, you were slightly disappointed when Danny made zero groupie hook ups and remained faithful to Melinda on his guys’ night out, thus avoiding potential romantic drama. And then you probably felt like a horrible person when Danny received news of his mother’s death over the phone from his father. Or you just felt like you should have felt like a horrible person but instead merely enjoyed the invasive close-ups and dramatic music cues. Shame on you!


Blatant Coffee Bean plugs and oodles of parties filled with Playboy playmate-status extras aside, this HBO comedy first charmed me last summer, when like the rest of the females in the human race, I found myself scouring for a cool, clever hit during the snide HBO comedy drought brought on by the end of Sex and the City. Then I started watching Entourage, a satiric gem from the production brain of Mark Wahlberg (impossible, I know!) supposedly based on his own life and flavored with various other “too close for comfort” incidences of art imitating life. The show essentially revolves around movie star Vince as well as the two friends and one sibling who decided to follow him to Hollywood. Bonus points come from Jeremy Piven playing Vince’s asshole Hollywood agent and Debi Mazar as Vince’s tough-as-nails publicist.

A year later and Entourage still doesn’t disappoint. The slew of cameos from Hollywood’s familiar faces gets better and better with each episode while star Adrian Grenier has finally found a stylist who realized that the super grungy look was also bordering on super disgusting. Although Piven’s biting Ari Gold makes up most of my umotivated adoration for the show, I must also give props to writers who could possibly squeeze out an entire episode solely devoted to finding marijuana in Los Angeles.

Laguna Beach

While I was originally skeptical about viewing a reality series about spoiled rich kids, as usual, I am now hooked. It seems to show a recent trend of MTV, who might want to branch out to a teen network with shows like My Super Sweet Sixteen.

Last season saw two sun-tanned and well-developed blonde young girls, Kristin and L.C. fighting over Stephen and other puppy love pursuits gone wild, and the same can be said for this season. Basically it’s high school, well not my high school, but a reality TV high school. This season follows last year’s juniors as they become seniors, with two groups of girls feuding. On the show’s most recent episode, one girl asked another’s boyfriend to a formal and a West Side Story-like street fight ensued –sort of. The girls bitched about each other and gave each other dirty looks the whole night.

There have been inquiries as to whether the show’s cast are really who they say they are (or actors) but that remains to be seen. As any summer hit, Laguna Beach is high on drama and low on depth — but not star power. Anyone can be a celebrity these days so long as they are young and looking for a good time. They did give Tara Reid her own Wild-On on the E!, remember?

Archived article by Tracy Zhang and Logan Bromer
Arts and Entertainment Editors