|— Christina M. Rau / GatsbyGirl
As VH1’s The Surreal Life winds down its sixth season, audiences around the world are shrugging and shaking their heads, wondering if things could get any more surreal. Sure, no cast will probably ever be as sweet at Vince Neal, Gabrielle Carteris, Hammer, and Emmanuel Lewis (and those other people on that season but do we need to mention Corey Feldman? I don’t think so). And no cast will be as volatile as the season starring both Omarosa and Janice Dickinson.
But this season was surreal for a very different reason. First off, [u]Florence Henderson[/u] of Brady Bunch and Wesson Oil fame agreed to be on the show. How did VH1 do that? I’m sure the huge part of the agreement is that Flo doesn’t live in the house. Which, I think, negates the point of the show. Not that anyone has flat out said that the celebrities must live together, but the past season kind of set the precedent that The Surreal Life is so surreal because all of these wackos live together (and I mean wackos in a very very good way—I honestly love the show for its wackiness). But since Florence rules the world, or more than a fair portion of it, she gets what she wants. And she is a class act for most of the time even if some things she does seem underhanded and shady. But she’s friggin Mrs. Brady. We have to love her.
As does [u]Steve Harwell[/u] from Smashmouth. His main purpose of being in the house, I think, is to defend Florence Henderson and say what a great person she is. He is all gaga that he got her in a Smashmouth video. He’s on her side on every single tiff and disagreement. He absolutely loves Flo. Steve is one of those guys who gets along with everyone as long as everyone is on the better side of nice and considerate (i. e. NOT Tawny Kittan, who we will get to soon). The other reason Steve is on the show is that he unfortunately lost a son. Every time he talks about it, he cries. As well as he should. He does admit that he’s going to look into therapy for it when the show ends, which is exactly what Flo wants him to do. The two of them definitely have a mother-son relationship.
Then there’s [u]Maven[/u] who is also very much like Steve in that he gets along with everyone. He’s no stranger to reality tv as he was on Tough Enough, the MTV/WWE show to see who the next great wrestler will be. He won, became a wrestler, and apparently also became somewhat addicted to pain pills as Flo scolds him about it. Maven also likes to get his drink on, and constantly drinks into the wee hours of the morning in the hot tub with a Playboy playmate. That’s not so much surreal as it is very lucky for him.
Speaking of Playboy playmates, [u]Blonde Girl Whose Name I Still Do Not Know[/u] is next on the list of surrealness. She is the obligatory porn person. However, she will not admit to that. Instead, she gets mad every time someone describes her as someone who takes her clothes off for a living. Because she’s just so much more than that! She introduces videos and clips on the Playboy Channel dammit! Of course, she’s in some state of nakedness when she does so. But still! She has a BIG PROBLEM with Flo because Flo just sees her as someone who takes her clothes off for a living. Even though that’s exactly what she does. Oh, and she gets drunk before she has to give a news report live on television. Highly professional. (Then again, that could be something I would do too—after all, she was at a winery). Blonde GirlWNISDNK also gets mad at Flo because Flo insinuates that a little love affair could possibly go on between Maven and BGWNISDNK. What’s the big deal? Florence treats everyone as if they are her children because Flo is a professional mom. It’s not personal. And if you work for Playboy, then stop being so defensive about it. Be proud that you get naked, not ashamed as BGWNISDNK so obviously is.
Moving on to [u]Sherman Hemsley[/u]. Remember George Jefferson? The little man who used to yell his head off for about 20 minutes a week? Well, Sherman is definitely not George Jefferson. He’s soft spoken, easy going, and such a sweetheart. Sometimes a bit of a pushover but that’s because, as he explains, he doesn’t want to make waves with people he’s just met. A real class act. Sometimes so muted when he talks that VH1 decides he needs subtitles. The great thing about soft-spoken people is that you really have to stop and listen to them to know what they’re saying. It’s a very powerful skill to have and VH1 needs to not mess with it by adding subtitles. When the cameras are on for the tasks the cast needs to complete, Sherman is ON! When the cameras are off and there’s just the reality tv cameras there, Sherman is quiet and subtle and so so strong. I absolutely LOVE Sherman Hemsley.
The complete opposite of Sherman would be [u]Alexis Arquette[/u]. You know, the gal who played Boy George in The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler and sang “Do you really want to hurt me” about a thousand times. She is probably the most surreal person on the show. For obvious reasons. She’s transgender. Or is it transgendered? Not sure. All I know is that she has one hell of a body for any gender. Aside from some anger issues—that cause her to grab a patio umbrella and threaten people with it and also cause her to tear apart part of the set in the house (which causes a gigantic head of Florence to fall over which is Hil. Air. Eee. Us!)—Alexis plays an important role in explaining the life of a transgender person. Not that she needs to be the poster child here and not that it’s her only role to play here, but like it or not, she does have to play that role because, well, it’s obvious and necessary. Of course, no one in the house has a problem with her because, well, they’re all wackos except for Flo who sees the goodness in everyone anyway because she’s a professional mom. It’s people they encounter along the way that give Alexis a hard time, like the people she threatens with the patio umbrella. And those encounters segue into Alexis having to talk about tolerance, diversity, and struggles with being transgender. Or is it transgendered? Still not sure. But what I am sure of is that Alexis makes for some pretty good television.
You know who ELSE makes for good tv? [u]Tawny Kitaen[/u]. When VH1 had some sort of metal song countdown show, Tawny Kitaen appeared and I thought, How cool that she’s in the spotlight again! No one had really seen her since she molested the car hood in that Whitesnake video. And then, she climbed aboard The Surreal Life Ark and I’ve been cursing myself from that point on. First off, Tawny has a very high opinion of herself that pretty much no one else shares. Secondly, she does not like Florence because Tawny thinks Florence’s kindness and wanting to help is all an act. Tawny has been in the rock n roll business a very long time and has learned that trust is a rare thing, I’m sure. But she doesn’t realize that Flo was not in the rock biz, but was in the Brady biz and is not out to get everyone. As in, when they do the live news broadcast, Tawny thinks Flo is being unfair to her when Flo asks how much they paid to replace a 500 dollar weather vane—and the answer Tawny stumbles over is something like 10 bucks. Tawny thinks that Flo threw her for a loop on purpose; meanwhile, Tawny keeps calling the weather vane a water vane, and in another episode, can’t say the term “temper tantrum.” This not liking of Flo makes Tawny not liked by everyone who loves Flo, especially Steve. Tawny doesn’t realize that she herself is the cause of the problem. Then there’s the tiff she has with Alexis that causes Alexis to tear down the house set (making the giant head of Flo fall down—still Hil. Air. Eee. Us!) and causes Alexis to deny Tawny the right to wear her wigs. That’s just fabulous.
Rounding out the surreality of it all is [u]C. C. Deville[/u], the lead guitar player in Poison. Almost every summer, Poison has played Jones Beach. Almost every summer, I have seen Poison play. Almost every time they play, CC plays his song, “I Hate Every Bone In Your Body Except Mine.” Almost every year, it rains. CC is the main reason I’ve watched The Surreal Life this season. He came to the house straight from rehab. He’s seriously been reborn. He is sometimes quiet, sometimes anxious, and always dependable as the voice of reason. Voice of reason? CC? Yes. This experience has been beneficial to him most out of all of them because he’s learning quickly that he doesn’t need any kind of drink or drug to accomplish anything, especially when he’s under pressure. Not the smartest environment for recoveries to be in as soon as they get out of rehab, but for CC it works. He looks AMAZING. Yes, even with platinum hair and eyeliner. He can play the crap out of a guitar and is the star of any show. And he’s so damn loveable. The first episode, it’s as if he already knows everyone. And actually, he already knows some of them anyway. Example: Tawny arrives and he’s all, “Hey, Tawny! How have you been!?” Same with Alexis. CC is the epitome of friendly. The epitome of happy. The epitome of refreshing.
So as The Surreal Life winds down its sixth season, audiences sigh with relief for several reasons. No more having to listen to Flo’s motherly advice—though goodwilled, a bit much. No more having to listen to Tawny Kitaen stumble over simple words. No more having to hear BGWNISDNK whine about how people think all she does is take her clothes off—she also licks things and drinks in hot tubs! No more Steve defending Flo as if she were his own mother. No more Alexis on the verge of threatening people with lawn accessories, which also means no more throwing Flo’s large head on the floor which is a different kind of sigh. No more having to read subtitles to listen to Sherman. No more Maven walking around without a shirt. Wait, that’s not so much relief than it is heartache for some. Most of all, no more wishing and hoping that CC doesn’t fall off the wagon. Which he doesn’t.
[b]And THIS is why I love reality tv[/b]: Sometimes people truly learn things about themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.
The surrealest part of The Surreal Life this season is that it was really life changing for a bad ass rocker.
Aside from the big head of Florence Henderson falling over, what was your favorite part of the season? Email me: Christina@realityshack.com or visit http://christinamrau.blogspot.com