So I watched "The Surreal Life" last night, despite my longstanding hatred of 'reality' TV, especially of this particularly contrived nature. But what can I tell you? There's something appealing about the high brought low, even if the gap between their highs and lows is not particularly vast. As is certainly the case with these clowns.
Corey Feldman is going to be the star of the show, at least in terms of being the guy that everybody hates. He's obviously got some 'issues', and I feel for him as much as I can for a self-centered, egomaniacal, chainsmoking former cokehead who was in "The Lost Boys". But what can I tell you? He plays his role to the hilt. He talks non-stop, about nothing but himself; he acts wounded when people don't pay attention to him; and he undercuts anything sensible he might be trying to say by being a jerk while saying it.
MC Hammer is a blowhard. He's also a Jesus freak. He also talks nonstop, forming a sort of gregarious counterpoint to Corey Feldman's whining. I keep hoping the two of them will get into a fistfight, but I don't think the producers will ever let the show get that interesting.
Vince Neil is the most likable, perhaps (because he's no doubt sitting on a giant pile of royalties) because he needs to be on the show less than anyone. As a result, he doesn't exude the stink of desperation quite as much as the rest of the cast and comes across as generally likable. He seems to just go along for the ride and laugh at everyone else, which is, of course, what the audience is doing. Also, he curses a lot, and we get to see entertaining 'bubble' headshots of his tarty plastic blond girlfriend when he talks to her on the phone.
Emmanuel Lewis is pretty boring -- quite shy and mildly love-starved, but inoffensive. He's gotten really fat, although I imagine at that size you can gain five pounds and look like Marlon Brando. Whenever he's on screen for an extended period of time, I entertain myself by contemplating the possibility that he may very well have been sexually interfered with by Michael Jackson.
Gabrielle Carteris plays a sort of den mother role. She's got her head on straight, it seems, other than being a bit too enamored of how funny she thinks she is. She's always up for wacky fun a la Andrea; indeed, she pretty much is Andrea, except not smart. She does try and keep everyone on an even keel, a thankless but necessary task. The 'must be on TV' vibe is strong within this one.
I don't know who Brande Roderick or Jerri Manthey are, and subsequently I have trouble distinguishing between them. They're both generically pretty, pointlessly flirty, and ridiculously giggly, and wouldn't have anything to say if you force-fed them every page in the dictionary.
As to the show itself, it was dull (a "contest" to see who got a luxury tent on a camping expedition), but provided a few entertainingly creepy moments: a campfire chat about fame and the future (dominated, naturally, by bloviating loudmouths Hammer and Feldman) in which you found yourself vaguely sympathetic with the latter's claims that his career wasn't as rewarding as everyone seemed to think (it actually set off an interesting conversation between me and the Roommate), which was immediately sunk by Hammer's accurate, if windy, claim that everyone there had been remarkably lucky and had little cause for complaint.
The most disturbing moment was when the gang stopped at a truck stop for breakfast; Vince Neil and Gabrielle Carteris came off as rather good-old-laddish about it, but there was a bit of a skin-crawl when, afterwards, several of the cast (dominated, again, by MC Hammer) started vaporing about keeping in touch with "the common people" (none of them actually said "the rabble", but that's a failure of their vocabulary rather than their intentions) and how they had "made everyone's day" by gracing the poor, hapless common man with their presence.
I'll watch it again. I'm hooked. I only wish that the producers didn't use such a heavy hand; it could be absolutely riveting if they dumped the contrived nonsense, gave the cast free reign, and let the cameras roll.