While television criticism is generally beneath the purview of this blog, I recently saw a show that was so offensive that I had to write a scathing review of it on Yahoo, simply to express my displeasure with it. But seeing as how that milieu was of obvious reader limitations, I decided to repost my review here, to expose it to a larger audience.
But just as a disclaimer: I do NOT watch these shows of my own volition. But we only have one television, which happens to be in the same room I normally keep my laptop, and my teenage daughter is quite the TV tyrant; so please don't think lesser of me for having watched this. I do so only under duress, and even still, consider this to be a lesson in human nature; though I'm using the term "human" quite loosely here.
The show: I Know My Kid's a Star. The premise: A bunch of crazy wannabe stagemoms bring their children into a house to compete with each other for $50,000. To add to the fun, Host and Judge Danny Bonaduce (yes, that Bonaduce) and angry co-host Marki Costello (a "talent" manager most famous for being Lou Costello's granddaughter) heavily criticize both parent and child after having put them through ridiculous challenges, the intent of which is to get the moms to freak-out and berate their children endlessly, for our immense enjoyment.
And what's sad is that this is exactly how VH1 sells the premise. Per their website:
The parents and children are judged as a team. Marki Costello, a Hollywood talent manager, bluntly and critically judges the parent's performance as managers of their children. Conflicts arise due to the pressure of competition and the stress of sharing a house with the other children and their very intense stage parents.
Very intense stage parents, indeed. And this Marki Costello person goes waaaay too far with her criticism, often just yelling at the parents and insulting the children she doesn't like. Essentially, she's paired as a Bad Cop-Worse Cop team with Bonaduce, who is a fairly gruff a-hole himself, but seems pleasant and personable by comparison. And while they insist that she's some sort of talent manager, her IMDB page only lists a few reality shows that she's helped "cast." It's as if she had such a bad rep for berating people in the world of reality shows that someone thought it'd be funny if she did that to crazy women on a television show.
And one of the weirdest things about all these fame-competition shows is that the contestants are so intent on winning that they seem to forget that they're on a national TV show and that everyone is watching them. And sure, the grand prize is always good. But it seems that even if you lost, a national audience of millions would be a great springboard to even bigger things; a concept that seems to be lost on many of these people, who proudly talk about how rude they are to the others in their attempt to win. These dopes obviously think they're being clever when they insist that they weren't there to make friends; oblvious to the idea that everyone watching them will hate them too, and that even if they won, they would be shunned by the public they're trying to woo. And those people never win. I'm assuming these people are Republicans.
And now that I've given the set-up, I'll just reprint the review I wrote.
I've now had the misfortune to have watched two episodes of this show and it just got worse. It's obvious this show isn't about the kids, who are little more than props. The show is really about the moms, which is obvious even from the title of the show, where the “I” refers to the mothers. The whole show is centered around forcing mothers into berating their children on national television for a prize that surely isn't worth it.
The only surprising thing about all this is how relatively well-adjusted the children are compared with their freaked-out mothers. And it's obvious that the show has set these women up for failure. The intention is to get them to hate one another, to hate the other children, and most of all, to overly criticize everything their children do. And the show does that in spades. While shows like America's Top Model honestly focuses on helping the contestants, this show clearly wants them to fail...miserably. Like the headshot challenge, where they told the amateur moms to take professional headshots of their children and then criticized them for taking amateur photos. And as the big joke, they only gave them three crappy cameras, to ensure that the moms would freak-out and fight over the cameras. That was unnecessary.
But so it is with the entire show. In fact, the worst character of all is co-host Marki Costello, who berates the mothers as much as possible and begins to yell if any mother disagrees with her. But again, that's the purpose of this show. This isn't a talent contest. This is an exercise in public humiliation. Even the nice judges are overly critical of the children and mothers, and as Frank on Frank's Blog said, this is probably the first reality show where the contestants are happy to be eliminated. I would be too, and can only hope that the entire show is eliminated.
I understand that show business is tough, but this is ridiculous. Showbiz moms are bad enough as it is. We really didn't need to see the worst of them all put in the same house to traumatize all those poor children. Especially as only one or two of the kids are even talented enough to deserve to be there, and none of them are true Hollywood material. These contestants were picked for their crazy-factor; not talent. On the second show I saw, one mom insisted she was going to kill someone; which I suspect explains why she was eliminated at the end of that episode. Drama's fun, but murder can be soooo messy.
But again, the show isn't about the kids. It's about their crazy mothers wanting so desperately for their talentless children to get discovered that they're willing to humiliate themselves and their children to do it. The creators of this show should be ashamed, but I’m sure they’re quite pleased with what they’ve done. I hope the kids get to send them their therapy bills.