Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Find My First Love - A Recap and Review

Find My First Love is exactly what out sounds like - people search for the one who got away. The show, which airs on the FYI network, plays out a little like an episode of MTV's Catfish, only less creepy.

This episode features Alicia, who was in search of her first love Benjamin. They met in France when she was 18. They had good times and bad, Alicia returned to the United States and they lost touch.

Paired with some intense music, Cherry Healey, the host, determined that Alicia may be living on a fantasy, or maybe she and Benjamin could have something real. In true reality TV fashion, the contact info Alicia has for Benjamin is all outdated, and in a twist, Benjamin has a second identity that he uses. When talking to a private investigator, Alicia was reminded that her story may not be all sunshine and roses - sometimes people end up married, in jail or even dead. Once we got through that low point, Alicia was surprised with the fact that she'd be heading to France to find Benjamin.

Alicia's first home visit in France proved useless, as Benjamin no longer resided at that address. Which is not surprising, given that this show is probably set up very well behind the scenes to ensure there's enough drama to fill an hour time slot. Then, Alicia wandered around asking people if they recognized Benjamin, which was obviously useless. Then Alicia had the interesting task of asking people if they knew of a local sex shop because Benjamin used to work at one. She found the store and Benjamin had worked there - Alicia was shown pictures of Benjamin and the body painting work he'd done. Unfortunately, the owner had no idea of his whereabouts. He did, though, ask if Alicia had one of Benjamin's children, which enforces the promiscuity that had been hinted at throughout the episode.

Cherry did her own investigation and found two addresses attached to Benjamin's alias. Alicia boarded a train to continue her search. Alicia told us that she's concerned about how she looks going after Benjamin, being that he had broken up with her and not the other way around.

Alicia arrived at the home address she was given. A woman came to the window when Alicia rang the bell. She looked devastated at first, but then came to realize that the woman was actually in a different apartment, Bejamin had left and his apartment was empty. She then went to the address listed as Benjamin's employer.

The private investigator on the show found another address that he was sure belonged to Benjamin and Alicia was sent on her way. Before she went, the show tracked down an old friend of Alicia's who came along for the ride (and probably to keep the show interesting). The home was Benjamin's, but surprise, he was magically in Paris for a week.

Alicia and Cherry met up in Paris. Cherry said she has to get the city talking about Benjamin. So Cherry made posters and she and Alicia hung them up everywhere. Then they did an interview with a popular radio station. Nothing worked at that time.

Alicia said that their last day in Paris had arrived. Just before it looked like hope was lost, the radio station called and said someone called them claiming to be Benjamin. They gave Cherry the phone number and she called it. Not surprisingly, Benjamin answered the call.

Cherry arranged for the pair to meet, and they shared a big hug. They discovered neither was married or had kids. They hugged more. Benjamin was clearly impressed with what Alicia went through. Benjamin said he missed Alicia and didn't want to leave her anymore.

Two months later, the pair was together in France. Benjamin said he'd grown up, shed his party boy ways, and was ready to be together with Alicia. Awww, happy ending! And that was it.

So how is the show?

 If you're a fan of Catfish, you'll like Find My First Love. It's a good show for the FYI network. It pairs well with Married at First Sight. Like Catfish, the show reads as part real, part staged. Like, the woman coming to the window at Benjamin's old apartment pretty much screamed "heyyyy this was set up for the cameras!" But Alicia's emotion seemed to be all real. And the fact that people magically had pictures of Benjamin available tells us that they were alerted in advance about the arrival of Alicia and the cameras.

If you're willing to set aside the fact that the show isn't as random as it seems, it's a good show to watch. It's well produced, flows clearly and keeps you watching as the show progresses. It's cool to see foreign places through the eyes of the camera. The views of France were absolutely beautiful.

Would I watch this show again? Yeah, definitely. It was good. Full of mini-tragedies with a happy ending. It keeps you strung along but wraps up nicely at the end with a neat little bow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Walk of Shame Shuttle - Series Premiere - Booooring.

Walk of Shame Shuttle is a show that is based on a premise by a girl named Kellyann. She picked up her drunk friends after parties in exchange for breakfast or money. And now her concept is a show.

While the crazy concept sounds great, the show falls short. After a few minutes of watching people talking about weird stuff, like a guy who locks his penis in a cage and bad Tinder dates, I was bored. We did learn a lot about hair though. At least that was interesting.

The trainwreck of the week was the only redeeming segment. That's when they show us the crazy person of the week. This week, we had a woman who sang "we at the hotel, motel, Howard Johnson" in the style of that Pitbull song and said her friends party HAM - hard as a motherf****er.

I cannot watch this show. There is not much that is entertaining or redeeming about it. The people and are just talking about bad dates. Which is fine, but I can talk to people about that in real life. And this was just...bad. Then again, I've seen very little promotion for the show and this is probably why.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Married at First Sight - Season 2, Episode 1 - Meet The Couples

Season two of Married at First Sight premiered tonight on FYI. The show takes three couples who have never met before and pairs them together to be married at first sight.

The participants selected are as follows:
Ryan D. (29 years old, a business consultant who keeps his home very clean and is motivated by his grandparents' relationship)
Shawn (34, a ER/trauma nurse who was bullied as a child)
Ryan R. (28, a real estate agent who is helping to raise his niece and nephew)
Jessica (30, a receptionist who was formerly engaged)
Davina (34, a pharmaceutical sales rep who is a child who faced racism and divorced parents)
Jaclyn (29, a sales rep for a vodka brand who really wants to find love)

The panel of experts are:
Dr. Joseph Cilona, clinicial psychologist
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, sociologist
Dr. Logan Levkoff, sexologist
Greg Epstein, spiritual advisor

The participants are put through tests with the professionals to ensure they make a good match.

The matches are:
Ryan D and Jessica, who share a deep core value of family but will have an interfaith relationship, with him being Jewish and her Catholic.
Sean and Davina, who have overcome emotional and physical issues in their lives, primarily from bullying. This couple is interracial, which fits well with Davina's desire to date a Caucasian male. Sean will be able to work with Davina's communication problems.
Ryan R and Jaclyn, who are described as a yin and yang.

The couples prepared for their weddings, including having bachelor parties and things of the sort. Next week is when things should really get interesting.

For more info on the cast, this article has some good information.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: It's Good. Really Good.

Let's take a break from reality TV news to discuss the show that I just binge watched on Netflix. And that show is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The show, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, brings us into the life of Kimmy Schmidt, a girl who was trapped in an underground bunker with three other women by a religious fanatic. We meet her as she escapes from the underground trap and decides to live her life in New York.

The show has a fun, yet dry, sense of humor that goes from laugh out loud funny to sarcastic and biting. Ellie Kemper shines as the unstoppable Kimmy, and Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess, along with the rest of the cast, shine in their supporting roles.

The show, originally slated for NBC, is a perfect fit for Netflix, in my opinion. I think it allows the show to be a little raunchier (hello penis jokes!), and allows the show to stand on its own, rather than part of a nightly lineup. I believe I read that the show didn't fit well with any other shows in the NBC lineup, and I totally understand why. Although I'm pretty sure this would outshine them all.

If you plan to watch this show, watch the first few episodes before making a decision. The first episode was good, but it gets even better as it goes on. Some key moments (spoiler alerts) are:

- Hearing Kimmy's stepdad say "Keeeemie" repeatedly. I don't know why, but that was hilarious.
- Jacqueline sounding confident about her knowledge of buffalo, only for us to realize a second later that she was looking at a deer.
- Kimmy standing up for herself in so many situations. That character has confidence!
- Everything with Cyndee - you can't tell if you want to love her or hate her. Or maybe both.
- Gretchen's realization at the end of season one.
- The mystery crank. Oh my gosh, the mystery crank.

I can't wait to see what season two will bring, because I believe this show has enough longevity to last at least a few seasons.

Oh yeah, and for those who are curious - I've read some blogs from people who have escaped from cults, and they seem to appreciate the realness of Kimmy's personality. Not that Kimmy's not over the top, but after escaping a negative situation, Kimmy does display familiar personality traits, like a strong thirst to enjoy life. I'm not speaking firsthand here - just from other people's blogs - but it does seem like the research team did great work in finding a mix of reality and situated comedy.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

She's Just a Kid! Gia Giudice Stands Up for Dad Joe Giudice.

Okay, believe what you want, and there plenty of media stories claiming that Joe Giudice cheated on Teresa Giudice, but something about this article is very not cool.

Allow me to clarify - the article is fine - the truth is, I feel sad for Gia Giudice. Sure, she starred in an oversexed music video with her band of "best friends". And yeah, she's been thrust into the spotlight since she was young. But this girl should not have to stand up for her family on social media. She is a child. She may think she's all kinds of grown up (didn't we all at 14?) but she should be enjoying cheerleading and school, not having to defend her father on Twitter.

Per the article:

It is "honestly hilarious how people go out of their way to make my family looks bad," Gia tweeted Thursday. "I need a break from all this... a new beginning."

Gia was responding to an In Touch Weekly report that claimed Joe, 42, had "business meetings" with an attractive blonde named Jamie Jackson in Atlantic City, NJ, where they were allegedly spotted making out at a restaurant inside the Tropicana Casino Resort and spending "20 minutes" alone together in a hotel suite later on.

I understand we live in a world where social media is everything. But if Joe is cheating, shouldn't be at least be discreet about it, and at the very least and encourage his daughter to NOT become part of the media circus? A fourteen year old girl should not have to know about her parents' intimate relationships, and in this case, shouldn't be forced to comment on them. I mean, I don't even believe she thinks Joe is innocent - it feels like she's putting on a show for her family to save face. She never actually denies the cheating - she just sounds like a young girl whose life has been way to affected by negative fame. And yeah, we all need a break sometimes, but Gia's desire for a new beginning shouldn't be because she has to be involved in public drama surrounding her family.

What's my point? The whole Giudice situation is totally bonkers. But it's not Gia and her sisters who should suffer because of it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Truce: A Powerful New Show

On the new show Truce on MTV, Nev from Catfish and Angel Haze step in to try to reconcile family conflicts.

On last night's special, Nev and Angel Haze set out to help Briyonza, from Las Vegas, NV, who has a girlfriend named Advani. She considers herself pansexual, but her family doesn't believe in that and has broken up the family relationship with Briyonza because of it.

Chaquina (mom) and Ethel (grandma) are totally against homosexuality, and during the family's last discussion about sexuality at a restaurant, a huge fight occurred.

Briyonza knew had she'd felt since her youth, but things fell apart once she came out to her parents in high school. Her mom insisted it wasn't real, because, you know, that somehow changes it. (Sarcasm.) Her uncle also got involved in an argument about Bri's sexuality, and he got up in Bri's face and insinuating that she had to listen to them, and she wasn't raised to be gay.

Angel Haze shared her story - her religious mom doesn't understand her lifestyle either. In fact, her mom told her that she'd get AIDS and go to hell! How horrible!

Even after these horrible things, Briyonza missed having her mom as her best friend and wants to reconcile.

Nev came up with a plan to go first to talk to Bri's mom, with Angel Haze bringing Bri and Advani later. Nev called Chaquina and asked if he could go meet her in person to discuss the relationships in play. Chaquina agreed, but made it clear that she'd never agree to the situation with Bri's sexuality.

Nev and Angel talked, and Angel talked about an open conflict of her own regarding a guy, Rick, she'd taken into her home. He stole Angel's stuff and was removed by the cops.

Right before meeting Chaquina, Angel texted Nev to make sure that Quaquina feels heard because that's important in this scenario.

Chaquina (who has a beautiful home) said her opposition to homosexuality stems from religious beliefs. She thinks men who are gay were molested as kids and women like to experiment.

Nev advised Chaquina that she could lose Bri from her life if she doesn't accept her lifestyle. Her mom seemed to believe that would never happen. And with that, Bri and Advani were told that they could come see her mom, but her mom said there'd be no hugging and the like. The girls did not agree. Chiquina seemed to believe that because she's the mom, she should have the final say in this and everything. Bri gave in to her mom's requests as long as it could be addressed upon their meeting.

Everyone met and Brionya articulately and wonderfully explained how the restaurant incident affected her. Brionya's mom acted out when Bri said she'd bisexual, saying that's not how she raised her. Bri's mom asked Advani why she's okay with being with Bri if she's also into guys, saying she's settling or something else that was confusing to listen to. Then Bri came out with the big question - do you think my sexuality is a failure on her behalf? And her mom said yes....which pretty much said it all, to me. This isn't even about Bri. It's about her mom and her religion and how Bri dating a woman makes her look bad. But this is not about her!

Bri said she thinks this will affect her relationship with her mom, and her mom acted out and said she'd cut her off financially and things.

Angel Haze stepped in to talk to Chaquina and made valid arguments. She said Bri didn't want her mom to feel bad when she cried and shared her feelings, she just had to get it all out. Angel said she hadn't talked to her family in five years because of her sexuality, and Chaquina blamed Angel for that, even though it wasn't her fault that her family rejected her because of her sexuality!

A producer went in to get Bri's grandma into the conversation. Grandma came in and said she thought this was a phase. Bri said no, not a phase. Then Chaquina stepped in with a different point of view than her previous one - she said Bri has to make herself happy, and she hugged Bri and Advani. It was a lovely moment.

Just when we thought it was all over, Angel was advised that the producers had reached out to her former friend Rick (mentioned above) and he wanted to meet. The pair met and Angel Haze asked why Rick couldn't have asked her before taking her stuff. Rick said he felt like he couldn't ask anymore and Angel knew his situation. Angel cried and said Rick's the only family she has left. Rick apologized and hoped they could get past it. Angel said she didn't know, but Nev pointed out that the pair clearly misses each other. At the end of the conversation, it seems as if the pair will be able to move forward.

We flipped back to Briyonza and Advani, and we saw them go to Chaquina's for a family meal. Everyone had a great time.

At the end, we learned that Chaquina, Bri and Advani all went on vacation together, and Angel and Rick are regaining their friendship.

My take on the episode / show:

First and foremost, how much do we love Bri and Advani? They are strong, intelligent women. I am so proud of them - it took a lot of courage to do what they did on the show.

Second, Angel Haze is great in this role. She brings string, powerful insight to situations such as this one.

Third, the show is good. Like Catfish, I'm sure it's not 100% real* (although based on real situations), but it has a powerful message. It can drag a bit, like Catfish, but it's overall very good and enjoyable to watch.

* A story I read said that a lot of the time, the Catfish reaches out to the show and the story is switched around to make it look like the person being catfished reached out. And before the show films, people have to consent to being on camera so it can't truly be as random as some of it seems.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Moment of Silence For Those Affected By a Tragic Accident

Today in Argentina, two helicopters were involved in an accident, and Olympic athletes filming an adventure-related reality show lost their lives. Per CBS News:

Among the dead were Olympic champion swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer and bronze-medalist Alexis Vastine, and pioneering sailor Florence Arthaud. They had been among the contestants in the reality TV show "Dropped."

The helicopters reportedly crashed into each other, leading to a tragic explosion, killing the athletes along with others. The article points out that this isn't the only recent tragedy to strike reality television.

Two years ago, TF1 - France's leading private-sector network, which aired the program - canceled the season of the "Survivor"-like show "Koh Lanta" after a 25-year-old participant died of a heart attack on the first day of filming in Cambodia.

We send positive vibes to the families of those who have passed and hope they find peace.

Monday, March 9, 2015

So Kelly Clarkson Did Date Justin Guarini...Not That We Care Now

I was reading Us Weekly a few weeks ago, and it said that Kelly Clarkson cried on the phone for an hour because she wanted out of the From Justin to Kelly movie, because, you know, it was awful.

She's also reopening that story by telling us that she actually did briefly date American Idol runner up Justin Guarini. (By the way, does anyone remember that Maury Povich once called him Justin Guarino on his show?)

So yeah, not that anyone really cares at this point, but this article tells us that our suspicions were true, and Justin and Kelly did date. So there.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review of a Scripted TV Series: The Last Man On Earth

On March 1st, 2015, Fox gave us the premiere of The Last Man On Earth, a scripted comedy about a guy who is, well, the last man on earth.

The show began with an interesting premise - a guy finds himself alone in the world after everyone else has disappeared. We don't see any dead bodies, so I guess we have to assume that everyone just vanished into thin air or something. During the first episode, Phil, the main character, begins to go crazy, talk to balls and things of the sort. Then, right before he kills himself, he sees smoke in the air. He follows the smoke and realizes a woman lives at the camp. He then passes out.

Phil awoke to a beautiful woman kissing him, but it turns out that was a fantasy, and it was in fact Carol, a less attractive and very nitpicky character, giving him mouth to mouth. Instead of a happy meeting, the pair butt heads. For example, Carol corrects Phil's grammar and wants him to pause at stop signs, even though nobody else exists in the world.

Carol is all about rules, which is a stark opposition to Phil's desire to ignore all rules because nobody exists to enforce them. Carol makes it her job to fix Phil, and much to Phil's chagrin, Carol moves in next door.

Carol, after an argument, tells Phil that the pair were chosen to repopulate the world. Phil was against the idea, and Carol (very graphically) made it known that she also doesn't want to copulate with Phil. Phil walked away.

Carol tried to get Phil to help her plant vegetables. He refused in favor building a large Jenga tower. Then he stole the tomatoes.

Carol gave in and used an outdoor toilet like Phil's, and she admitted that she gave up on growing vegetables and getting running water indoors. If she was using reverse psychology, it was effective, and Phil went on a mission to get water for them. He built a water system for their vegetables, to Carol's surprise. She then invited Phil over for dinner, and the two began to make peace. Even though Phil did a whole lot of bragging about his accomplishment.

Carol and Phil decide they need to consider reproduction, and Carol says she won't lay with Phil until they're married. After an argument, Phil walks outside and screams into the air. He walks back in and agrees, then gets down on one knee and proposes to Carol. (Her middle name is Andrew, by the way.) She's thrilled and accepts.

And then the episode ended. And I felt somewhat unfulfilled.

My thoughts on this show:

The hour long premiere was a bit much. The producers could have probably accomplished this episode in a half hour block. The show is funny, though, and Carol is a big part of that, with her method of saying "tom-ah-to" instead of saying tomato and her phrases like "son of a bee sting".

Do I see this show lasting more than one season? No. Not at all. I could definitely do without this show. I'm not sure if I'll continue watching it. It's okay but definitely not earth shattering. And really, the entire first episode can be summed up like this: This guy thinks he's the last person on earth. He hangs out with inanimate objects until he meets a girl. Unfortunately, she's weird, but choices are clearly limited. They fight, they make up, and they realize they've got to reproduce or the world is over. The end.