"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

April 26, 2006

"It's not America's Next Top Best Friend"
If you've spent any time on the reality TV bandwagon, you know that every show needs a villain. From Omarosa to Johnny Fairplay, there's been no shortage of hateable, awful people whose sole purpose is to piss us off exceedingly. However, they're not all created equal. So, to break down the antagonists on three reality shows currently on my schedule, I'm turning to an old George Carlin sketch hidden away on his 1981 album A Place for my Stuff: that's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Asshole, Jackoff, Scumbag! Today's participants are Shane from Survivor, Stephen from Top Chef, and Jade from America's Next Top Model. Let's dive in...

Shane is clearly the asshole here. Belligerent, prone to mood swings, and looking like a drowned rat, all you need to know about Shane is that he decided to quit smoking multiple packs a day right before the show started. No, actually, he decided to go cold turkey starting the day he got to the island. Biiiiiiig asshole move there. To his credit, though, what makes him much more bearable than the other two is that at least he's not arrogant. There's a bumbling fool element to his personality that makes for fun TV (such as his dropping trou two weeks ago out of fear he had contracted some nasty genital disease (which ended up, naturally, just being an irritated rash from wearing the same cruddy, wet clothes day in day out)). I never scream at the TV at him, which brings us to...

Stephen, the smug, "sophisticated" sommelier who has lots of talent, but staggering amount of pretension and arrogance to go with it (it's right in his official bio: "[Stephen] describes his cooking style as being light years ahead of traditional chefs..."). It's especially frustrating because he's clearly one of the better cooks (even if his presentation reeks of overpriced artistic masturbation) and I would like to root for him, but any time he opens his mouth I just want to bitch slap the hell out of him. His condescending belittling of contestants he feels aren't worthy of the competition, his utter shock whenever one of his glorious dishes doesn't win a challenge, his steadfast and oft-repeated belief that no one else even approaches his skill level, yeah, this guy's a real jackoff.

Worst of all is that scumbag Jade. Since she first walked in, she's made it very clear to everyone who will listen that she is the undiscovered supermodel, the competition is going to be a cakewalk, and everyone else might as well go home. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam week after week. Unlike Stephen, though, she's got very little to back it up. She continually misinterprets the challenges (her party "socializing" while filming the makeup commercials was so over-the-top and unwatchable, I'm surprised the judges didn't find it insulting), is willing to be maliciously catty and bitchy to anyone who crosses her (of course, the title quote is from her), and generally spurs the audience's homicidal tendencies. A walking case study, her deep-seated insecurities at spending years of her life failing to break into the business manifest in her petty shots at sabotaging the other contestants and her need to self-affirm at all times. Only after narrowly escaping elimination a few weeks ago and being scolded by Tyra did she finally start to show some slight progress. As much as she may claim otherwise, she's just a mean-spirited bully.

I wholeheartedly welcome semantic debates here, so shoot me an email at marc@shadowbloom.com if you disagree with my choices. Until next time, that'll do it for this edition of Asshole, Jackoff, Scumbag!