Remember when that Wayne Newton song “Danka Shane” was popular in the 80s, and it wasn’t because of Wayne Newton, but it was because of Matthew Broderick? Everyone wanted to be Ferris Bueller. EVERYONE. Not only was he cool enough to ditch school, get his friend Cameron to steal his military-type dad’s car, get the prettiest girl in school out of going to classes by blatantly pretending to be her father and making out with her in front of the principal, but he also talked straight into the camera. So friggin cool.
Two decades later, Ashley Parker Angel (aka the luckiest man alive) is catching on to the exact same technique, hoping the kids will latch on and want to be just like him. In “There and Back,” the climax moments are freeze-framed, Ashley steps out of frame to talk directly TO US, and then, when he’s done with his commentary, he jumps right back into the scene, and they all pick up where they left off. T-rif-ick. Emphasis on ick.
In addition to the success of the throwback to Ferris, why is Ashley Parker Angel the luckiest man alive? Exploitation works for him, my friends, exploitation. After making it big with the boy band O-Town, he’s back as a solo artist with shaggier hair, a pregnant fiancée, no job, and enough money to buy a new house when I have a steady income and can’t even afford a condo. I’m not bitter. Afterall, at least I’m not on “There and Back,” the weekly documentary of the ex-boy band big wig Ashley Angel.
But do you know who IS on “There and Back”? Some of the old O-Town gang show up for a ride on the exploitation train. Jacob’s appearance is especially memorable. He has dreadlocks. And he wears a big hat. Kinda like George Clinton of George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. And he has earlobe stretchers. And he works in construction or something. And he and Ashley have a very staged conversation about how fame came too fast and luckily Ashley was smart enough to save all his money. So that he could buy a house with three thousand down. What kind of reality is that?
The show also focuses on the pregnancy because nothing is more entertaining than a hormonally imbalanced woman on the verge of shooting something very large out of a bodily orifice that’s very small. So there’s lots of talk of baby names and mood swings. And to tell you the truth, I think Ashley’s the one who has the most mood swings. Seriously. What with all the freeze frame explaining a la Ferris going on, he is moody tunes.
And AFTER she gives birth? Well, the mood swings get moodier. I mean, have you seen the previews? The Angel gets into a fist fight! Ooh! He actually employs the cat-fighting windmill technique usually reserved for seventh grade girls who fight over boyfriends and lunch meat, which is Hil. Air. Eee. Us.
[b]And this is why I love reality TV[/b]: You [i]can[/i] go home again. And you can exploit exploit exploit. As long as you’re willing to do goofy things that worked in classic 80s movies and you’re willing to embarrass yourself by rerunning footage of boy band moments, you can have a show at least on cable. Throw in a baby on the way, and you’re a star. Which means anyone can be a star. Or you can be a star, disappear, and be a star again. Plus, your offspring can have a claim to fame as well; the Angel Baby will be the first baby actually born on MTV. Now there’s a story for the grandkids!
There and Back is the most recent show to get Christina’s “And THIS Is Why I Love Reality TV” treatment. For past victims, er, columns, check out the archive.
Want to see my O-Town collection? Email me: Christina@realityshack.com