Friday, June 29, 2007

Yaye's Second Favorite Show on the TV

Oh. My. Jiminy Chricket.

Though no TV show can usurp "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" as my favorite (when it's on the air), "Hey Paula" is a close second.

Last night was the "Sneak Peek" and then premiere of Paula Abdul's new reality show on Bravo (damn me if I could see a difference between the Sneak Peak and the premiere!). Brilliant stuff, my friends.

In a nutshell, Ms. Abdul is a high-functioning mess. I shan't speculate on what causes the slurred speech, manic eye-rolling, verbal-diarrhea incoherence, giggly inappropriate flirtation, or tendency to fall asleep in the middle of a business meeting -- her publicist wants us to believe it's all due to insomnia and a heavy work schedule -- but I do know it's damn fine entertainment!

Can you say schadenfreude?

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Anonymous lyf said...


I am sorry, Yaye, but I am going to have to disagree with you on this. Despite my good wife pulling me in to Project Runway and Top Chef (not so much a fan of this season...), we stumbled upon this sneak peek, and lasted less than a minute. I cannot stand Ms. Abdul at all... It IS like watching a train wreck, but I feel that watching it is somehow enabling and rewarding the train for crashing. And Bravo is starting to dredge the gay friendly celebritainment lake a bit too deep if you ask me. But at least they're consistent :)

I too am a fan of a good D-List Binge every now and then, but I think Kathy has become too self aware of her own shtick, and it seems to be bogging down in contrived situations that are too much for me. If your celebrity increases by promoting the fact that you aren't a big celebrity, how long can you be "in" by proclaiming you're "out?"

I think Jon Stewart is a good example of someone who manages to be outside of the established celeb mill while being an item hisself. But sometimes the beams get crossed - when the marketing machine intrudes on his little world - witness the truly uncomfortable Daily Show interviews of Posh Spice or Jennifer Love Hewitt - peeps he would ostensibly be making fun of in non bizarro world.

Jeez, I do go on, don't I?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous yaye said...

Ooh, Lyfie, I REALLY like it when you do go on!! No apologies, please. I always welcome dissent, and I certainly can't fault your arguments. Everything you say is true.

What I think I enjoy most about Kathy Griffin (the stand-up comedian and reality show persona) and Paula Abdul's show (not so much Paula herself, you understand) is that both reveal and mock celebrity's pretensions and the greedy, self-deluded underbelly of the glittering glamour puss that is Hollywood (in the broadest sense).

Besides her wicked, unvarnished wit, I appreciate Kathy Griffin's raw yearning for, fascination with, and cynical parody of fame and fortune. She's a woman who shamelessly scavenges for upscale goodies at awards show promotional tents and brings us along to watch. She doesn't talk about celebrity excess in the abstract, she makes it concrete, naming recognizable people, places, events and misdeeds. With all the mealy-mouthed pandering we're accustomed to in the media (in both the entertainment and political realms), it's incredibly refreshing.

Yes, all reality shows are ultimately far from real. The closest you get to reality is usually the first season of any cameras-following-celebs shows -- once they've seen themselves on-screen and the network marketing department has identified the key demo, it all becomes more stagey. But with Kathy Griffin, at least she's not pretending to do anything other than forward her career. If she has to set-up some situations for entertainment value, she does it because she believes in "doing her job," pride be damned. She seems to be abundantly self-aware and I just really like her.

Paula Abdul's show, on the other hand, is more along the lines of the "Anna Nicole Show" or "Being Bobby Brown." The entertainment lies in the fact that the celebrity is in no way self-aware nor coming clean with the audience. Her slick, ever-present publicist is your first tip-off. That her "best friend" is her hair stylist is clue No. 2. She's a B-list celebrity surrounded by toadying employees and ruthlessly working it from every angle (QVC, vanity perfume line, designing costumes for "The Brats" for jiminy's sake!), but with NO sense of irony. And that's her sin (and mine, for finding her delusion entertaining).

Amazingly, the reality show was there for the erratic interview spectacle from earlier this year that set off a tidal wave of speculation about Ms. Abdul's questionable sobriety, and the next episode promises to show the aftermath from behind the scenes. What I'm most interested in seeing is how Paula herself reacts to what she's done. Any chance she'll walk away with a more lucid view of herself and a desire to address reality? Or will it be about how the big mean media is misrepresenting poor little famous, rich, privileged her?

Poor Jon Stewart. He's brave, brilliant, and provides an invaluable service to the public, but ultimately, he's a network employee who's got to render unto Caesar. The marketing machine will ALWAYS intrude.

Love you, Lyfie!!

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Lyford Von Lyfingham III said...

As always I am in awe of the Yaye Insight.

It is interesting to compare the two shows in this light - I lasted just about as long with Bobby and Anna as with Paula, and, likewise, only stumbled upon their shows by accident. Ms. Griffin does get a little meta with the concept of reality TV as a celebrity generator -whereas her use of the vehicle actually contributes and reinforces her public persona, the other celebreality shows strike me as almost an admission of defeat. Or at least the surrender of any pretense of actual celebrity currency and a cashing of all the marketing checks while one can.

It's like Styx playing Magic Mountain a few years back - one has to hit the small venues on the way up and the way back down. Ms. Abdul has now joined the heady ranks of Screech and Don Trump who trade in being known for something, to just being known for being known.

This apparently holds sway in American political (un)consciousness as well, since we could just be trading the last names of Bush and Clinton for some time now. Name recognition has come down to the level of an on-off switch.

But I digress.

Ms. Tallu invoked the good name Spinal Tap a few posts back and I think that film and album have
such staying power because they are truly written from the outsider perspective, which, despite or dips into the rock world, is the one with which we resonate. Their second album, once they were "famous" included duets with Cher and had guest solos from other metal rick stars. It felt forced and I felt betrayed in a way - you can't both make fun of the pep squad and then go sit at the cheerleaders table.

And here is a link to the most uncomfortable interview ever (this side of Jennifer Love Hewitt pimping Garfield the Movie on the Daily Show):

To be generous to Ms. Posh, I think she is irony challenged, and mistook Jon's mock surprise that her baby with Mr. Beckham was not a cyclops with a angry mother's scorn.

More later when the Vicodin wears off... (oh and btw, they don't tell you about some of those side effects.... well, I guess they do but you don't really pay attention BECAUSE YOU'RE ON VICODIN!!!!!)

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Talluded said...

Jeeez...I've become dull, dull, dull god am I dull, reading your repartee.

You two are so smart it makes my head hurt.

9:26 AM  

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