Reality Bites: Hollywood Exes

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

You know, kids [hitches pants up to midsection and lights corncob pipe], it used to be that the term "celebrity" applied to someone famous by virtue of their being arguably more talented and possibly more attractive (but not always the latter, see also Humphrey Bogart) than the general population. Media coverage wasn't always flattering, but at least tended to focus on the A-listers.

I don't know exactly when, but the internet tells me it was around the time of Richard Burton/Liz Taylor/Eddie Fisher-palooza, but gossip rags eventually took a more salacious tone. The mutually beneficial relationship between magazine and movie industry went away, replaced by an adversarial situation in which studios publicly blasted the tactics of magazines like Celebrity and Modern Screen and pulled out their advertising money. The mags didn't care, as a steady state of impropriety boosted readership through the roof.

The point is, shows like VH1's Hollywood Exes conclusively demonstrate that the concept of "fame" is essentially meaningless, and pretty soon we'll all get our own reality shows based on that one time we ran into Mia Hamm at Newark Airport.

I'm going to call it "Me n' Mia."

From the opening line -- "Bitch is trippin'!" -- you know you're in for an evening of heady political discussion and wide-ranging philosophical debate.

Ha ha, but seriously, three minutes into the Season Three premiere (aka The Episode I Watched), and once again I find my jaw hanging open at the fact this show has been on for two seasons already. More to the point, I have no idea who any of these women are. One of them mentions being Oscar de la Hoya's ex, but if she hadn't subsequently also stated her name (Shanna Moakler) as well, I'd have been stuck spending hours Googling hundreds of DLH cast-offs (note: I wouldn't actually have done this).

Not that it got any easier. The show begins, the cast is listed for the audience, and I'm forced to guess who each of them were married to:

- Mayte Garcia: Jerry Garcia? Seems a bit of a stretch, considering she would've been a widow around 20. [Real Ex-Spouse: Prince] - Jessica Canseco: Well, that's easy. Jose Canseco. - Sheree Fletcher: For some reason, I'm getting a Twin Peaks vibe, so I'm going to say, uh, Kyle MacLachlan? [Real Ex-Spouse: Will Smith] - Andrea Kelly: Not ... R. Kelly? Oh god, it is. Well, I hear it's good for the skin. - Shamicka Lawrence: Guessing Martin Lawrence, because she's definitely too young for T.E. Lawrence. - Shanna Moakler: Gave birth to De La Hoya's child, but was actually married to Travis Barker of something called Blink 182. . - Nicole Murphy: Eddie Murphy? Eddie Murphy.

Mayte and Jessica start us off by sharing a moment over a local ball pit, which sounds sexy, but isn't (it's where kids play at Ikea when their parents want a brief respite from the screaming, you childless perverts). Both of them are anti-fur, which is nice, if meaningless. Saying you're against wearing fur in the 21st century is like someone in the 1950s boldly proclaiming their opposition to leeching.

I can only assume VH1 sent out hundreds of invitations for quasi-famous ex-wives and the current crop represent the ones who replied in the affirmative. And yes: "wives." So far, only females have been featured. I guess David Gest is busier than we all imagined (though he certainly fulfills the only other apparent requirement for employment: massive numbers of Botox injections).

Jessica must be the linchpin of the whole show, because next she moves on to a gym and works out with Nicole (who's now engaged to ... Michael Strahan?). The two concentrate on using the hip adductor/abductor machines -- which encourage gawking but are otherwise pointless -- and exchanging expressionless glances.

I suspect two-thirds of the misunderstandings on this show (or Mob Wives, or Real Housewives of Barsoom, or whatever) result from an inability to tell if the person you're talking to is making a joke.

Sheree and Shamicka meet in order to complain about Mayte's inability to ... make mojitos for some party or some such. Mayte seems to be the focus of everyone's ire, though it's hard to tell why in the context of a single episode. Sure, she Skypes with her boyfriend and it's a bit gross, but Shanna meets the group at a restaurant and proudly shows off photos of her liposuctioned fat, so I'd have to say atrocities were committed by both sides.

It's also quite amusing this collection of plastic surgery disasters is taken aback by photographic evidence of, well, a PLASTIC SURGERY PROCEDURE.

Finally, the whole gang meets at Nicole's house for an outdoor party type thing. Her daughter Bria and Liz Bonds (ex-wife of San Francisco Giant medical experiment Barry) anger Mayte because -- you guessed it -- they're wearing/carrying fur. Bria, to her credit, points out Mayte is sitting on a leather chair. But I actually empathize with Mayte here, after all, leather comes from ugly cows, not cute minks, so it's okay to butcher them for their skins.

Mayte storms off (through the kitchen), knocking over a jar of sugar (or some other white, powdery substance). Nicole solemnly asserts "that bitch better come back here and clean this shit up." Mayte's gone, though, leaving the rest of the exes to contemplate the futility of existence before checking the balance on their alimony accounts while servants sweep up the spilled sugar.

In other news, I think watching these shows is turning me into a bitter person.

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