Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Reality Reviews: “Rock of Love Tour Bus,” “The City,” and “Bromance”

Sorting through some of the new reality television that's premiered the past couple of weeks.

First stop on the line is rocker Brett Michaels latest bachelor fantasy, “Rock of Love Tour Bus.” For two seasons, Michaels has searched for true love amidst two separate households of celebrity groupies. With no luck at home, he's taking his act on the road.

Per the usual “Rock of Love” fare, contestants compete against one another for the prize of Queen Groupie, or rather, the honor of being Michael's “girlfriend,” which is a dubious distinction at best. Contestants are eliminated during each episode, leading to all kinds of backstabbing and behind the scenes drama, fueled by loads of alcohol provided on set (oh, sorry, it's reality TV, so there are no sets).

All of this would normally be despicable if the contestants weren't so seeming genuine in their pursuit of the ultimate prize, presumably Michael's love and devotion. And all of this takes place on tour, as Michaels goes from one Indian Casino to the next, kicking out the jams.

It's all train wreck voyeurism at its trashy finest, the type of irresistable fast food entertainment that you can actually feel killing your brain cells as you watch. But who cares because you can't get enough. And props to Michaels for making himself completely relevant some 20 years after his band's last true hit song. You gotta love the guy for that alone.

Can't say the same for MTV's recent Monday night offerings, “The City” and “Bromance,” which are lite beer versions of other reality shows. “The City” is merely “The Hills” set in New York; “Bromance” is sorta-kinda like “Rock of Love” only with dudes, and the head dude, Brody Jenner, has neither the charm nor talent of Michaels.

In “The City,” former “Hills” cast member Whitney Port leaves Los Angeles for NYC, and, well, that's it. All of the same hallmarks of “The Hills” are there: fashion industry power sharks, dark lit bar scenes and glittery sky lines are abundant. Even the fonts on the character intros are the same.

Port would appear to be an amalgam of Heidi and Lauren from “The Hills,” sporting Blonde tress and fashion industry credentials in one nifty package. The first episode deals with her new job as a marketing assistant and re-introduces scuzzy rocker Jay, Whitney's presumed paramour.

There will be struggles, foreshadowed by snooty co-workers and boy toy's free floating ways. Will Whitney make it in "The City?" Who knows, but expect at least one cameo from Lauren somewhere down the road.

“Bromance” is a little more obvious in its crassness, thanks in large part to its lead. The premise alone is laughable: Jenner is looking for a new best bro, and a pack of horny males are competing for said distinction. The winner gets, among other things, access to c-list ragers and possibly Laker floor seats (when they're playing the Grizzlies).

One unexpected twist is the homo-eroticism that pops up from time to time. Witness Brody and four male contestants crammed into a spa, with one guy sporting a cabana hat even. If MTV decides not to pick it up for a second season, the show might have a shot at a time slot on LOGO network.

I could barely sit through the premiere episode, which featured a contest where contestants had to bring in a pack of hotties to a private party before 9 p.m. In the end, everyone gets to party, but the losers had to clean up afterwards. They didn't seem to mind, so long as they got in the door.

Previews for future episodes have promised heated exchanges and close ups of bro's crying. These guys should man up and maybe take some lessons from the "Rock of Love" girls on how to act right.

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