Okay, I don't have time to watch all the TV I might like to; in fact, by the time I've kept up with English football and Law and Order reruns, there's not much time for anything else at all.
So I'm only vaguely familiar with most of the reality shows currently in vogue, and that mainly from reading about them or hearing friends talk about them. I've seen about half an episode of Pop Idol, the English show on which American Idol was based, and a similar amount of Big Brother, also the English version.
And that's about it. Except... Well, as it happens, the gym I go to has wide screen TVs mounted around the premises. Sometimes they show sports, which you might think of as the appropriate accompaniment for a workout, but lately they've been tuned to MTV or VH1 most of the time.
Which seems a little silly, especially on those rare occasions when they're showing actual music videos, because the sound is always turned off. But as you probably know, most of the time these stations no longer play music, they present shows, many of them at least fleetingly "reality" based.
I've caught glimpses of several of these at the gym, but only a couple of them have stuck in my mind: the one about Scott Baio and, more lately, The Rock Of Love, featuring former Poison frontman Bret Michaels.
Remember that while I have seen several 15 minute stretches of both shows, I have never heard a single word of dialog, leaving me at a bit of a loss as to what is supposed to be going on. Well, not so much with the Scott Baio thing, in which the show's premise seems to be encapsulated in its title, but definitely with the Bret Michaels one.
I also wonder why the sudden fascination with 45 year old washed-up pretty boys? Considering who does the lion's share of MTV and VH1 - 45 year old not so pretty boys, I'm guessing - that answer becomes pretty self-evident. But returning to my original question, what the HELL is going on and why?
I'm specifically referring to the Bret Michaels Rock of Love program, which seems to consist almost totally of Bret hanging around his mansion with a couple dozen skanks and slightly past-it strippers who, if body language and the occasional subtitle are to be believed, are all vying for the attentions of Mr. Michaels.
Am I far off here? But what I don't understand is how or what you're supposed to win. American Idol, Big Brother, Survivor, even without watching them I'm familiar with the basic premise. But what's supposed to happen here? Does someone "win" Bret Michaels? Or does the last girl able to stomach him get some sort of cash prize?
I should say here that while I'm aware of Bret's band Poison to the extent that I've seen lots of pictures of them and know that they were reasonably popular, I don't think I could hum or even name a Poison tune to save my life. So I don't have any realistic idea of just how big a star Bret Michaels was or is.
I do know that in real life you don't have two dozen women, even skanks and slightly past-it strippers, mewling like lovestruck kittens over a slightly paunchy middle-aged dude who dresses like those guys who used to be in bands and hang around Hollywood bars hoping to pick up impressionable young chicks from the provinces. Oh, unless he's a multi-millionaire with a mansion, I guess, but gee, that doesn't paint the young - all right, not THAT young - ladies in a very favorable light, does it? Well, depending what light you see hobags in, right?
I could have this all wrong. As I say, I have NO IDEA what is happening on this show. All I have to go on are superficial impressions, and there could be a deep Chekhovian subtext to this drama that the lack of sound has left me completely unaware of. If so, I apologize profusely to any of the participants I may have offended, and hasten to note that Bret Michaels doesn't look at all bad for a typical 45 year old dude and if nothing else, he can at least thank his lucky starts that he's not Scott Baio.
Anyway, if any of you out there are familiar with this show - and given the culturally aware, media-savvy audience this blog attracts, not doubt some of you will be - please fill me in. Preferably by Thursday, which is the next time I plan on going to the gym.