It’s easy to see the appeal of I’M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE, which launched last night on NBC: Who doesn’t want to see famous people suffer… especially when those folks are as insufferable as famous-for-no-good-reason Heidi and Spencer Pratt.
Practically from the get-go, it’s clear to viewers that this is going to be THE HEIDI & SPENCER SHOW… and how one reacts to that will depend entirely on one’s feelings for the pair. Early on, they walk away from the game, only to return shortly thereafter to stir up a great deal of simulated drama. Heidi and her “newly Christian” spouse single-handedly set the religion back a thousand years with their hypocrisy and childish antics, but quicly prove to be the only truly interesting thing about this train wreck. (Janice Dickinson, usually reliable when it comes to over-the-top antics, comes off as neutered and confused… but hey, it’s early yet.) And Patti Blagojevich did a fantastic job of tainting any potential jury pool by making a very public plea regarding the innocence of her husband — you know, the actual celeb, if he can be called that, of the family.
Although the twitterverse was largely quiet during the debut episode, several perked up when it looked as if perhaps the celebs were going to undergo a tres-chic challenge. Following shots of several planks and a tank, one tweeter excitedly send out a message reading, “They’re going to waterboard these losers? Now that I’ll stick around to see!” Instead, however, the celebs were strapped down while bugs filled the tank. Although several of the supposed-somebodies opted for a hasty exit, the cockroaches and spiders seemed about as interested in the stars as most viewers. The cameramen worked darn hard to make them look threatening, but in the end it looked more like one of those cheap monster movies where you can tell the thesbians are reacting to an effect that will be added in later.
It’s worth noting that Heidi and Spencer didn’t even attempt this particular trial. In fact, they spent most of the overly-long-by-half episode either performing or napping. And yes, I say performing because — brace yourselves, I’m about to say something nice, sort of, about the duo — I refuse to believe that any two people could be that hideous, obnoxious, horrendous and completely free of self-actualization.
And therein lies the problem with CELEBRITY — the show, not the status: At no point do you really feel as if these folks are by any stretch of the imagination real (with the possible exception of Lou Diamond Phillips and sportscaster John Salley, who come off as genuinely nice). They are here to do their schtick. And there’s not all that much sense that they are being deprived of much in the jungle, what with Salley breaking out a digital camera and Dickinson primping with her mirror… not to mention the ridiculous (and seemingly endless) fury that erupts over one of Mrs. Pratt’s beauty products.
I’m hard-pressed to decide which is more disturbing: That NBC is putting this crapfest on several nights a week, or that millions of Americans — including yours truly — just might be sucked into watching… if only in the hope that Heidi and Spencer will have a run-in with one of the jungle’s nasty natural natives and realize that they’ve wasted not only their lives but ours as well.