Saturday, April 29, 2017

NBC's First Dates: I Loved It!

I caught NBC's new show First Dates, which showcases people set up on blind dates. While my expectations were low, and I wondered how they got Drew Barrymore to be the narrator, I was pleasantly surprised.

Produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the UK version, this show features couples as they meet and go through the awkward steps of a blind date. Some couples appear to be set up because they're great for each other (like episode 4's Sam and Rachael or Molly and Rena) while others are total trainwrecks (like Ommid's match with Candice).

I liked the diversity of the series: younger couples, an older couple, gay and straight couples, couples with different backgrounds and more.

On episode four, many of the participants came out looking great - they had the raw honesty and awkwardness of a true first date - but two contestants were not my favorites. Both Colleen and Candice looked like total ice queens. I mean, Candice freaked out because her date asked her age and left before the meal even began. But they were on a DATE. You have a right to know the age of the person you're dating, in my opinion. Her date, Ommid, tried to have a good time, but Candice was simply not having it. She's a big shot at her job, and her ice queen personality translated right into her date. Colleen, on the other hand, chose a key issue (gun control) and refused to see past it. Colleen came off really ditzy on the show, but I think that may be due in part to nerves - blind dates and reality shows can both make be nerve wracking!

Would I watch this show again? Absolutely. I've set my DVR to record it going forward. It was a fun, enjoyable watch, although some of the dates are rather infuriating!

Want to be on First Dates? They're casting!

Friday, April 28, 2017

It's a Good Time To Be a Teenager and Get Famous For the Wrong Reasons

With the resurrection of My Super Sweet 16 and 16 and Pregnant, it's a great time to achieve some fame, if you want to do it for the wrong reasons.

First of all, with 16 and Pregnant, it's different now than the first time around. The original participants, especially in season one, didn't realize that doing one episode on MTV would skyrocket them into fame. Even former 16 and Pregnant star Mackenzie McKee agrees with this, although her motives in speaking out are potentially to attract more fame. (She seems to be mad that former Teen Mom 3 co-star Briana DeJesus was chosen to join the Teen Mom 2 cast while she wasn't.) Here's some info on what Mackenzie had to say, according to Hollywood Gossip:

“The ladies whom are on Teen Mom did not get pregnant for fame,” she said, though it certainly did result in that through the years.
“They had no clue at the time how far with TV they would come. But they do boldly shared their stories to show others what a struggle it is.”
At face value, McKee does not make terrible points; Teen Mom is a TV juggernaut now, hence the current rebooting of 16 and Pregnant.
How much that inspires the motives of teenagers, no one can say, but there's no denying that it's a cultural force that it once wasn't.
I think Mackenzie has a point. Will a lot of girls get pregnant on purpose to be on the show? I'd certainly hope not. But people do crazy things for fame, and I doubt this will be an exception.

Interestingly, I wrote this back in 2011 in response to an interview conducted by Dr. Oz with the show's creator, Lauren Dolgen:

Dr. Oz asked Lauren Dolgen if she thinks that Teen Mom glamorizes teen pregnancy, and Lauren said no. She said that anyone that watches the show will realize that it shows the harsh reality of teen pregnancy and does not promote pregnancy.
I disagreed somewhat then, and even more now, that the show has led to massive fame and fortune for some of its participants.

Secondly, My Super Sweet 16 coming back sends the wrong message about, well, everything. Be a spoiled brat? Sure. Treat your parents badly and rant about getting a blue Ferrari instead of a red one? Yeah, go for it. While a more recent show about Quinceaneras on a different network showed a positive side of teen parties (grateful kids, involved parents, etc.), My Super Sweet 16 did nothing positive except showcase entitlement and bad behavior. I know that this kind of thing attracts viewers, but aren't we better than that? And should we be using kids for this kind of thing?



What do you think of these kinds of shows? Great for entertainment, or bad for society?

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interview With Dating Naked's Shealyn Brand

Shealyn Brand took a chance when she auditioned for a spot on the first season of VH1's Dating Naked. After all, it was the first season, so she didn't know what to expect. Fortunately, her carefree, fun spirit got her through the episode and allowed her to show how awesome she is. Recently, Shealyn took the time to talk to Less Than Reality to share her experience, her thoughts on the episode, and her love of pizza.


You appeared on season one of VH1's Dating Naked. How did you end up on the show? Did you audition? Did you know what the show was, or was it a surprise?

I found the show on a casting website, and being fresh out of a relationship decided, what the hell, I'm gonna audition! The show was new at the time but I figured it had something to do with being naked - which I am totally okay with, for better or for worse.
Of course, you had to be naked on your date - how was that? Did you hang out naked in advance to prepare yourself or anything?
I'm one of those people who gets home and immediately takes off all clothing - which is okay because I either live alone or with a significant other. The thought of it grosses my Ma out though and she tells no one to sit on my couch because my bare ass may or may not have sat on it!
Dating Naked makes it look like everything happens really quickly. How long were you on location to film?
I was on location for a week. The audition/interview process took about a month prior to my trip to Panama (where it was filmed). 
We all know that reality TV isn't exactly reality. Did you have to film anything multiple times? Was what was aired relatively true to what happened, or do you feel that a lot was missed?
It's all in the editing. What happened and what ends up in the episode is always up to the editors. I chose to behave well (relative to the others on my episode). I already knew my parents would flip at me even doing the show - I wasn't about to bang or cry on camera - I figured my parents would see it eventually and I'm their little angel.
What was the best part about being on Dating Naked? What was the worst part?
 
Best part was a free trip to Bocas Del Toro and meeting someone very special in my life (he was part of the crew). Worst part was pissing off my folks, oh, and the fact that they didn't blur my butt! I was told they would blur my butt! Perhaps I would have done some squats had I known, but probably not.
On the show, we could see you had several tattoos. Tell me about them.
Mostly pizza related, which explains why I have joined the Brooklyn Pizza Crew. I have my version of a Mom tattoo and the city emblem of my hometown of El Centro, CA.
Did you get any feedback from friends, family or TV viewers after you appeared on the show? What did they say?
 
Obviously my parents and family were less than thrilled with my choice to appear on the show. However once they watched it and saw how great I came off, very down-to-earth etc., they learned to deal with it. Now, whenever it's on, my Nana records it or my Ma shows my nieces.
If you could be on the show again, would you do it?
Some days I think yes. Most days I would say no. However it did prove to me that I don't care what anyone thinks about me and I can do anything!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hollywood Darlings: Episode 2, My So Called Prom

On Hollywood Darlings (which is an improvised comedy, not reality), the girls drank a charcoal drink, which Jodie hated. Someone came up to Jodie Sweetin and Beverley Mitchell to ask for a picture, but she didn't recognize Christine Lakin, which made her mad.

The ladies reminisced about what they missed being kids in the spotlight. Although Jodie was opposed to a slumber party, Christine and Beverley were all about it. Beverley made a vision board for it.

Christine searched online to see if any teen boys would want her to take them to prom, but no luck. So she posted her own video offering to take a boy to prom. Christine's video kept being taken down because it said "looking for teenage boys" because it cut off the words "to take to prom".

Beverley and went to a VHS store for 90s movies, but ended up in a store that sold adult videos based on 90s movies (I Know Who You Did Last Summer, as an example).

Christine picked out a dress for the prom she hadn't yet been invited to. And she said, "If I wear this, they will come". Beverley asked her to rephrase that. Some girls who were prom shopping told Christine she's old. As luck would have it (as this is a scripted show), a mom at the store recognized Christine, and her son didn't have a date for prom that night. He wasn't interested in taking Christine, but she and the boy's mom ignored that. The boy, Caleb, was not happy, and ditched Chrstine at the photo booth. The mean girls spotted Christine, and she told them that statistically, one would get an STD that night.

Meanwhile, Jodie started getting her old stuff, including Mr. Bear, in an attempt to move forward with her life. The guy at the eBay sales store was like, are you sure you want to sell Mr. Bear? It's your childhood! Jodie replied that it's Stephanie's childhood and insisted he take it. Outside, Jodie talked about how she's glad she got Mr. Bear, but then she saw a stuffed bear hanging from a telephone wire, and ran back to recover Mr. Bear.

Even though Christine ditched Beverley's slumber party for prom, Beverley went ahead with it, prank calling Joey Fatone and trying to send pizzas to Jonathan Taylor Thomas' house. Christine came later, saying that prom was awful, and Beverley said that's how prom is for most people, which made Christine realize she had a real prom. Jodie tried to stop the eBay auction for Mr. Bear but when she saw he was up to $5,000, she realized that was way better than the bear.

The group toilet papered Caleb's house as revenge for prom. His mom came out and was thrilled to see the three of them, but asked Christine to take the picture of her and "two incredible celebrities". And so the show ended exactly where it started - with Christine being left out of photo ops that the other girls were offered.


Catfish: Kailani and Sam (Season 6, Episode 8)

Last night, MTV showed an episode of Catfish starring a person named Melvin, his friend Kailani and their catfish, Sam.

First, Sam, hiding behind the profile of a masculine guy, talked to Melvin, who called him out as a catfish. Then he moved onto Melvin's friend Kailani, who was badly hurt by a recent failed marriage.

Image from EmptyLighthouse.com
Most episodes of Catfish end with the catfish showing signs of remorse, but this episode had a bit more. Sam, who is transgender and transitioning from male to female, used it as a way to come out to the world. He wasn't catfishing Kailani and others to be cruel; he was doing it so he could make sure he was making the right decision with his transition.

While catfishing is never okay (and is obviously very hurtful to its targets), I feel for Sam. Sam clearly did love Kailani and never meant to hurt her. And he needed to do what he did to find himself and make sure he was making the right decision. I give Kailani so much credit for accepting Sam after what he did (they didn't end up staying in touch, but Kailani was very forgiving) and understanding why he did what he did.

I would guess that it's Sam who actually contacted Catfish to come clean. I read a while back that it's often the catfishes who contact MTV to reveal themselves, and the producers back into the story from that. I mean, come on, you don't really think every unwilling catfish is down to reveal themselves without being ready, do you? Anyway, my guess is Sam was ready to let the world know about his transition and did it using this. And I truly hope his family was accepting and kind following his news.

Here's a quick recap of the episode, if you missed it:

Melvin contacted the show (theoretically) on behalf of Kailani. Keilani, off the bat, told Sam the show had been contacted.

Melvin was chatting with a guy named Sam. He called Sam's bluff on his pictures and things, so Sam moved onto Melvin's friend Kailani. Kailani, at 23, had just gotten divorced from a 6 month marriage because her husband was cheating on her - he was actually engaged to someone else! Kailani leaned on Sam, and came to love him, as she recovered from her trauma. Sam claimed to love her too.

Nev and Max discovered that Sam's pictures belonged to a guy named Dom. They also found out that Sam had been catfishing someone else.

Sam agrees to meet Kailani and is genuinely apologetic, but it isn't until he meets with Nev and Max alone that he reveals that he's transgender in and in the process of transitioning. He talked about what he went through as a kid, knowing he was a boy stuck in a girl's body, and how his family wasn't exactly kind about it.

When this was revealed to Kailani, she was genuinely nice and understanding. She's a great person who's dealt with a lot in her life.

During the after the show segment at the end, we learned that Kailani has a boyfriend and Sam came out to some people, and appears to be doing much better.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hollywood Darlings Series Premiere: Recap and Review

The Pop Network has decided that we need a 90s flashback, so they gave us a new show: Hollywood Darlings. It stars:

Christine Lakin from Step by Step
Jodie Sweetin from Full House
Beverley Mitchell from 7th Heaven

These real life friends spend the episode talking about their lives and performing in very scripted situations.

Here's a recap of Hollywood Darlings:

The show opened with the trio playing Marry, Sleep With or Kill. You know, the game where you name three people and decide what you'd theoretically do with each. Then, the pair talked about how it's hard to be a mom (true) and their lack of pedicures.

Jodie met with Andrea Barber and discussed that Andrea's character is listed on Urban Dictionary. Then, Andrea notes that she's teaching a kids acting class - and SURPRISE - she's unable to teach this week, so Jodie's got to step in.

Christine and Beverly headed to a spiritual center. They thought it would be a spa (somehow) but it turns out to be a spiritual massage place. And again - SURPRISE - Andrew Keegan owns the place. Then, the show plugged all of Andrew's accomplishments and dating history.

Jodie went to teach the acting class, but the kids challenged her with super scripted lines, insulting the fact that she began her career in a commercial and saying instead of learning, they can post on Instagram. They later asked Jodie for business advice, and a lot of things were bleeped out, giving us the impression that she said a bunch of highly inappropriate things.

At the spiritual center, Beverley fell asleep while Christine did some kind of dance to increase her sexuality. Then Andrew gave Beverley a snack which was supposed to represent orgasmic eating. Beverley ate, and Andrew said she seemed like she was faking it. He showed her how to do it correctly, and that led to a very over the top scene.

So...yeah...that all happened.

Here's my review:

Well, that was interesting! This show follows the format featured in VH1's Barely Famous and Candidly Nicole. The thing is, it was so overly scripted that it goes beyond the fake reality to just about completely scripted, along with a few remotely truthful conversations.

If you're looking to see a bunch of your favorite 90s stars come together, this show is right up your alley. It's very silly, mindless and strange. But if you're looking for reality or depth, don't tune in.

Want a second opinion? Yahoo TV's review had this to say:

The Pop press release says, “In this improvised comedy, the three actresses play exaggerated versions of themselves in their current Hollywood lives.” Yeah, sure: This show is about as improvised as a Catholic mass. Sweetin told The New York Daily News, “We wanted people to realize this is not our real life, it’s not reality. We wanted it to be very fun, ridiculous, over-the-top-silly. We wanted it to have the feel of a sitcom.” If this is a sitcom, it’s one that makes Step By Step look like Orange Is The New Black. Strained and poorly performed, Hollywood Darlings can’t make nostalgia seem like a fun idea. After sitting through this, I’m telling my editor I’m taking the afternoon off for a nice little nap.
 Looks like Hollywood Darlings will only be a hit for those who want nostalgia, even if it comes with a side of contrived situations and forced cameos.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Off Topic: New Mommy Must Haves

A bunch of people I know just had kids, and they've been talking about the items they absolutely need to have for their babies. While this is completely off topic for this blog, I thought I'd share some of the items they swear by in case it can help any other new mommies in the future.



This is the Brest Friend nursing pillow, which is a must have for breastfeeding moms. While the Boppy has its merits, this pillow straps on and is flat, making it easier to keep baby in place while you're nursing. Plus, the removable cover is easy to wash, and the inner foam is durable. You can even buy replacement covers so you can change them based on your current style.



When a mom breastfeeds, she can only use one side at once. And the other side, unfortunately, can leak. Hook this up on your other breast to catch any dripping milk. It'll keep you clean, and bonus, you can save the recovered milk to bottle feed later. This also acts as a quick alternative to heavy, bulky electronic breast pumps. You can even order this on subscribe and save on Amazon if you'd like a new one every month.



This car seat cover (or any other, for that matter) is perfect to protect your baby from the elements. Whether it starts to drizzle or the heat is too much for baby, a car seat cover is great for walks or the quick trips from the car to the store. Plus, it's adorable and can keep your baby out of sight if you want to keep him or her hidden (like if you're surrounded by germs).



Muslin swaddle blankets. Seriously, they have to be muslin. Why? They're soft and b'reathable, and they make swaddling super easy. Many other blankets won't stay folded around baby, but muslin does the trick. Aden & Anais makes great ones but they're much pricier than other brands. Not into swaddling? The Easy Swaddle is great too.



My friend swears by this. She says it gets her son to sleep quickly, and he loves hearing the ocean sounds. Her son needs sound in order to fall asleep, and this plays long enough to get him to fall asleep happily, then it turns off.



As everyone does, we have laundry to put away, bathrooms to clean, etc. This toy will keep a baby entertained for long enough for you to actually accomplish things. Babies love to hear the music, kick the piano, and look at themselves in the mirror. The mirror is key - I've seen babies kick like crazy, flail around happily and more - all while staring at their reflections.

Of course, you'll need a lot more for a new baby, but these are the key things that I've been told are must have. Congratulations if you have a little one due soon!