Here’s something that will make you hate humanity: “Jersey Shore”, probably the first program where we witness somebody actually giving somebody else a venereal disease, is the number one program in its timeslot. But as hard as it is to believe, it’s not the worst thing MTV has ever aired. There are at least five programs that are even worse. Such as:
We can’t actually find a logo for this show: that’s how embarrassing MTV finds it. So here are some kittens:
Awwwww. Anyway, “Becoming”.
Leaving aside for a moment that the show sounds like an arty porn movie, the concept actually brings the idea of creepy fandom to previously unheard of heights; namely, a huge fan of a music artist is selected to reenact their music video.
“Becoming” is appalling on a couple of levels. First of all, it’s creepy. Like, really creepy, as in we’re pretty sure the musicians so “honored” by having their music video re-enacted put these superfans on a bit of a watchlist or, in a few cases, had them assassinated for sucking.
Secondly, it’s really just MTV creating a “behind-the-scenes” for a music video that already exists, except just light years more pathetic. This is like a Trekkie posting a thirty-minute behind-the-scenes video for his three-minute trailer for “Star Trek Vs. Star Wars: The Force Defeated”. While we’re all for laughing at pathetic losers, pathetic losers don’t need to be sought out. They bring themselves forward. They have podcasts and YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and fansites. To actually seek them out just seems, well, cruel.
Thirdly, considering they haven’t aired a music video since roughly 2001, it’s undeniably cruel to tease their audience with a show like this. “Here’s the latest…wait, why is the singer 300 pounds and crying?”
4. Downtown Girls
You won’t see shows like “The Hills” or “The City” on here, not because they’re any good, but because at TBR, we don’t believe in going after easy targets, and besides, all the “Spencer Pratt lives up to his last name” jokes are taken. And, let’s face it, if you lack the brain power to understand why “The Hills” sucks, you’re probably not reading this anyway. But it takes work to be as extra-special-retarded as “Downtown Girls”.
We’re singling this out for a beating because there’s nothing that sucks harder than a reality show trying to imitate a popular show with an actual script and actors. And in “Downtown Girls” case, they’re trying to do it with “Sex and the City.”
So, wait…you’re ripping off a show that’s about four twits, so you find five twits who make even Carrie Bradshaw look dateable, and follow them around with cameras, and…what? What were you expecting? Relatable characters? Human drama? There’s nothing exciting about a bunch of dolts learning that being an adult is hard. We know it’s hard. That’s why we drink vodka and write about mocking MTV instead of paying our bills. We don’t need a TV show to tell us this.
3. Teen Mom
With “Teen Mom”, MTV has actually achieved something that almost nobody thought was possible; broadcast a compelling argument for every teenage to be forced by law to wear a chastity belt until after graduating college. If that sounds a little drastic, well, you haven’t seen the show. It even throws in a side dish of confirming every terrible stereotype of the South and New Jersey you have ever had.
Not that all the teens are necessarily stupid, or even crappy parents (well, for seventeen year olds), but whenever you’re watching, inevitably you’ll stumble across something that feels like foretelling doom for America. Sometimes, it’s a teen dad asking for more time with his kid not out of love and caring, but because he wants to pay less child support. Sometimes, it’s the teen mom being screamed at by her insane parents. Sometimes, it’s watching the teen mom struggle to figure out how to answer a basic GED question. Sometimes it’s realizing that the weedy guy with the backwards hat and the douchebag clothes is actually the mature, responsible parent and the mother shouldn’t be allowed within fifty yards of any child, let alone give birth to one.
But, every single time, it’s realizing what a huge mistake about a minute of friction can trigger. We won’t be surprised if this show drives down teen pregnancy rates solely because nobody can deal with the shame of being such an idiot on air.
2. My Super Sweet 16
There are many wonderful causes in the world, supported by wonderful people. People trying to end poverty, clothe the naked, feed the hungry. People who work hard, all day, and just want to relax in front of the TV for a while.
Then this show comes on and they’re forced to go out again, because they feel the overwhelming need, after seeing a teenage girl scream how much she hates her mother for buying her the wrong $70,000 luxury sedan, to go punch a baby.
A quick summary: a spoiled little princess, inevitably as dumb as a rock, has her sixteenth birthday and gets everything she ever wanted, all of this done in front of millions of strangers because that’s not tacky at all or anything. Then she and her family go burn some money in front of a family getting their house repossessed and laugh at their tears.
Sure, this show has slowly faded from cultural relevance, especially after the recession hit and indulging excessive wastes of money suddenly fell out of fashion for some inexplicable reason. But still, this is practically money-wasting porn. If wasting money is a fetish, and it probably is, then this is the Holy Grail. We bet money-wasting fetishists own complete seasons of this show. The Who can only look on in jealousy at this level of conspicuous consumption.
To be fair, MTV did realize this at some point and followed the show up with the single greatest show they have ever aired, “Exiled”, where these brats are scooped up, dumped in scenic Third World hellholes, and forced to do some actual work. Our only complaint is that said brats are eventually allowed to come back. Why? Leave them there. We don’t want them. Keep them shoveling latrines in the backwoods! Builds character!
1. The Real World
Generation X may be about to rise as one and scream about our gall for putting this on the list, but stop and think about it. So, so many terrible things can be attributed to The Real World. The fame of Puck; the preachy, pretentious comics career of Judd Winick, who has been exploiting/hiding behind the death of Pedro Zamora for the better part of a decade now; the fact that any of these losers get $1500 and $2000 apiece for public speaking engagements despite most of them only achieving living in a swank apartment for a year and doing nothing.
But the real sin of “The Real World” is fathering reality TV itself.
It’s hard to remember, but before “Real World”, there was this idea that documentary programs had to have some kind of gravity or dignity. TV documentaries were largely the domain of PBS. Even the first reality show, “An American Family”, was a very serious and sober affair. Then MTV came along.
Don’t get us wrong, there were some important moments: Pedro wound up actually teaching a lot of people about AIDS, MTV was acknowledging that gays existed almost a decade before NBC took the daring step of airing a crappy sitcom, and The Real World was also one of the few places on cable you saw a black guy who wasn’t either a token minority at a fictional law firm or rapping.
Then again, it also was a shameless soap opera. And it made a fortune: not only did it get attention, it was much cheaper than actual quality programming, something cable networks took note of and immediately starting copying, until it got so intense CBS decided to jump in and unleashed “Survivor”…and we all know what that led to. The Jersey Shore and the Situation making $5 million a year for being annoying.
So, thanks, MTV. Thanks a lot. Man, forget TV…where can we find some of those teen moms?
By Dan Seitz