Reality shows are meant to deliver the goods. And by “goods,” I mean violence. It’s the reason that Real Housewives of New Jersey—as boring as this current season has turned out to be with all its details about Jacqueline’s spoiled-brat daughter and the confusing Guidice financial turmoil—is still my favorite subset: Every once in a while you might be rewarded with an actual fist-flying brawl.
And at one time the formula seemed easy enough: put a group of obnoxious, attention-seeking conflict magnets in a house together and watch them go at it. The A-List: New York kinda-sorta knew that last season. We were treated to Derek and Austin shrieking at one another on a regular basis, wishing each other cancer like a pair of hex-delivering Maleficents.
Then they became allies. That was boring.
And now they’re on the outs again, nursing hurt feewings and petty, unbending grudges. What started with a bang now trudges along whimpering, spending more and more time having sit-downs in empty cafes or randomly chosen park benches and less time shaking up any actual location in any recognizable part of New York.
On this episode, the cast even lingered around well past the ending moment of a God’s Love We Deliver benefit in the Hamptons in order to facilitate another
crying jag argument about the who-cares nature of Austin and Derek’s dissolved friendship.
Last season we saw an actual physical man-fight between Austin and Rodiney. It was epic. This season, Rodiney contemplates restraining orders and Austin keeps a polite distance, weeping on camera more than any single other cast member. If he’s actually having a substantial breakdown, the show hasn’t bothered to investigate it—that would be too interesting.
Also at issue: brands. Nobody wants to just go on a show and have a telegenic conniption fit anymore. Everybody’s got product to sell. Last season Reichen made that… um… song. And Rodiney posed nearly naked for a Nearly Naked Rodiney Calendar. That was kind of it. And it seemed almost reasonable. Now everybody is looking past A-List‘s expiration date for their next revenue stream. (Assuming, of course, these products are any more real than the scripted situations they litter.) If it’s not Derek’s tanning spray and Mike Ruiz’s t-shirts, it’s Nyasha’s dance tracks featuring Nyasha’s fake hair attachments or Reichen’s new fragrance.
In Reichen’s words, it’s “going to be so… Reichen.”
Fatigue is setting in. What’s the answer?
Well, how about we put Reichen to work in an actual lab, where he has to function alongside chemists and fragrance manufacturers and see how he gets along. Wouldn’t that be cooler than watching him sit in another empty room with Ryan talking about… nothing? The show can also send Austin out to a logging business in Oregon and make him operate heavy machinery. Derek can park cars with a valet service for a month. Rodiney has to go to Bangalore and work at a call center. Mike already has an actual job, as does Ryan, so they can proceed as before. Nyasha has to answer to Anna Wintour for just one day.
But instead, in this episode, they play fake golf and make tepid jokes about balls. And Rodiney runs frantically to a hair transplant specialist to correct the quarter-inch his hairline receded. And this is after he refuses on principle to join in with the lazy afternoon everyone spends together at a plastic surgeon’s office for more Botox.
Most maddening: there’s a giant platter of fruit and cheese at the plastic surgeon’s office that nobody touches. Nobody. It sits there alone, crying out to be stuffed into starving homosexual mouths and one incessantly chattering Nyasha-mouth. I could put all of it away in 10 minutes. Five, if TJ were helping. It was probably just thrown into the trash later or, hopefully, stolen and taken home by one of the grips.
It just reminded me of the scene in Sex and the City 2 that made me the most angry (as opposed to all the other scenes in Sex and the City 2 that were merely boring, lazy and insultingly stupid): When they’re in the desert, lounging under a tent and being attended to, and there’s this bowl full of those awesome little French macarons just sitting there. Nobody’s eating them. Nobody is filled with the joy of life that those tiny ganache-filled almond meringues can bring. Just starving and yelling and weeping and getting their dumb cheeks shot full of freezing botulism.
This season is running out of time. I want to see some action, some mayhem. At least three black eyes. And a pie-eating contest.
Logo, hear my cry.
Images via Logo