"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garbage In, Garbage Out

In the age of reality TV, there is certainly no shortage of trash on a variety of channels. But I daresay that the leader of the pack is Oxygen's Bad Girl's Club. To be fair, until a few days ago, I had only seen the advertisements for the show, so I watched a few minutes of an episode the other night. I say a few minutes because I couldn't tolerate any more of it. After I hurriedly changed the channel and reached for an antacid, all I could think was...WHY?

Why would anyone come up with such a horrible concept? In case you don't know the concept, it is this: take about 8 of the trashiest, immoral, stupid, violent, self-involved women (and I use the term women loosely), put them together in a lovely mansion, and watch them drink, have sex with random men, beat each other up, and scream profanities. I mean it. That's it.

I remember when the Oxygen network began, and I THINK I remember that their tagline had something to do with empowering women. I guess that marketing slogan is in the archives room somewhere in the Oxygen offices, long forgotten.

The other "why", though is--WHY is this show so successful? WHY are people watching this crap? This show is THE most popular show on Oxygen, and I don't even want to know where it falls in ratings compared to other shows on other networks.

Today, more than ever, our young girls need to see role models, and hopefully parents are guarding the remote. But even high school and college women don't need to see this. It sends a message that this behavior can land you fame and fortune and a large following. And if I was a betting person, I would say that a good portion of the audience for this show is young men, and as young women see their reactions to the show, they might determine that a little "bad girl" behavior would do them some good.

But, until the ratings drop, the bad girls play on.

'Bad Girls Club': Well, they got the 'bad' part right ...
Feb 2, 2009, 03:00 PM by Jennifer Armstrong

Call it "television for trashy women." Seems the growing popularity of Bad Girls Club has made January one for the record books at Oxygen. The third season of the "reality" show -- which basically just puts a bunch of, shall we say, young ladies with challenging personalities in a house together -- boosted the women's net to its best ratings ever among 18- to 34-year-old women. To this I say: Really? We're talking about a show that basically goes: girls drink, girls make terrible decisions regarding inappropriate men, girls say really catty things about each other and fight, repeat. Points for honesty, I guess, given that most reality shows cover the same basic territory, even if they pretend to be about skill-based competitions (see Oxygen's other ratings-booster, reruns of America's Next Top Model) or, um, documentaries about a particular lifestyle (see The Girls Next Door).
MTV will be assaulting us with the similarly themed Girls of Hedsor Hall starting Feb. 9, in which, according to the press release, "12 of America’s rowdiest young women are shipped off to England to repair their bad ways," and VH1 has been doing it for a while with its Charm School (a distressingly watchable franchise). But even those questionable shows -- along with The N's strangely sweet bitch-rehab show from last summer, Queen Bees -- come with varying degrees of "lessons," unlike Oxygen's now-marquee hit. You know things are bad when you're a downmarket and more shallow version of MTV and VH1 fluff. And what's more worrisome is that now that Oxygen has found its defining hit -- cable-network-marketing's version of lightning in a bottle -- it's likely to spawn more of the same. I know it's tough to get out of Lifetime's schmaltz-soaked shadow, but the world of women's TV could use more smarts -- and fewer bad girls.
article courtesy EW.com


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