Reality Bites

Reality Bites: The Bad Girls Club - Las Vegas

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

There comes a point in reviewing shows showcasing the embarrassing antics of tattooed subhumans (Jersey Shore) or the plasticine über-rich (Real Housewives of X) where you start realizing the problem of diminishing returns. Are these people horrible? Yes. Does their behavior range from the laughable to the despicable? Yes and yes. But how many ways can you say it? How many times can you work "legions of bronzed troglodytes" into a blog entry before you give up?

There are six current Real Housewives series airing (three international, with another two on the way), and Jersey Shore is currently in its fifth season. If there was going to be an audience revolt against these programs, it would've happened by now. So in addition to the natural decline of usable vocabulary, there's also the resignation that descends upon everyone who voices their opinion about matters pop culture when they realize nobody really cares what they have to say.

And then you stumble across something like The Bad Girls Club, which makes me fear not just for the immediate future of humanity, but for the state of human evolution itself.

What I mean by that is, it just feels like our species is selecting against the sort of things that might have been beneficial in the distant past. Things like rational thought and self-preservation. I no longer see us turning into the Talosians from Star Trek, but rather some methane-breathing future versions of Snooki and Puck from The Real World.

It's hard to believe embarrassing garbage like The Bad Girls Club was what Oprah Winfrey had in mind when she launched the Oxygen Network back in 2000. Of course, economics and viewer preferences being what they are, the channel now relies on such "women-oriented" programming like Dance Your Ass Off (a weight loss show) and Hair Battle Spectacular. I guess those Kate & Allie reruns wore thin after a while.

This collection of twentysomethings are all allegedly "contestants" on the show, though the only competition I could discern was between who could take their nipples out the most (Gia from Newark) or who was the most demonstrably batshit (Amy from Chicago).

The Bad Girls Club just embarked on its eighth season (that's two more than Kate & Allie, in case you cared), and the episode I caught was the season premiere, with seven young "ladies" with apparent emotional and behavioral problems plopped into a glitzy mansion in Las Vegas, given free access to alcohol and left to their own devices. Unsurprisingly, they decide on the first night to get bombed and hit the town.

But I'm forgetting some of the girls. Twins Gabi and Dani hail from Massachusetts, and seem to have a halfway decent mother and father. Unfortunately, their apparent belief that Reno is one of the United States betrays a failure in either public education or parenting. Then again, every one of these women represents the latter on one level or another.

Erica is from Atlanta. She doesn't trust Gia because she's short: "You know what they say about short people: They're sneaky."

Jenna is a brunette from Long Island and a self-described sex addict (I believe she propositioned a cameraman during her interview segment). She's also the only one in the house who knows what a "bidet" is, so props for that. Finally, there's Demitra (a.k.a. "Mimi") from Miami. She bonds with the twins over their Haitian roots, because as we all know, all Haitians are related.

This caravan of tattoos and big boobs descends upon Vegas, where the already inebriated Gia goes from chugging Grey Goose (which is really more of a sippin' vodka) to frozen drinks. She then proceeds to puke in the VIP booth of some club, and also manages to get some on Amy's jeans.

Obviously, no one likes to be puked on. To be fair, the actual surface area of defiled jeans is minimal, and could easily have been laughed off (I'm just thinking back to my college years, when we called getting strange vomit on your clothes "the weekend"). Amy, however, treats this as her own personal Reichstag fire and degenerates into the sort of wearying overdramatics you'd expect from a bunch of drunk post-adolescents. Mimi offers to trade rooms with Amy so she doesn't have to sleep next to Gia, yet the two still get into it. Things escalate even more when Gia calls her friend (it's 8 a.m. by this point), who recommends she spit on Amy to get back at her. This has predictable results, leading to the intervention of the show's producers.

And then, for whatever reason, Mimi starts defacing Amy's picture. She sucker punches Mimi, who pulls out Amy's weave. And then Jenna and Gia get into it. One episode in, and this shit is already boring.

At the end of this first day, Gia has left to flash her nipples elsewhere, Amy looks like she's never going to sleep, and Gabi and Dani -- geographic deficiencies aside -- really do appear to be "the sanest bitches in the house."

What's the logical outcome of all this? When your first episode contains no less than four fights (with the tantalizing promise of more to come), when does your audience begin thirsting for more? Sure, hair weaves were pulled out, but how long until that isn't enough? Will the producers leave croquet mallets in strategic places? How about spiking random bottles of Corona with PCP? "Deez bitches be crazy," sure, but are they crazy enough?

You'll have to tell me what happens. Not only am I blocking Oxygen from my channel guide, I'm thinking of banning the word "oxygen" in my house. From now on, we'll refer to that gas we need to breathe for survival as "lung food."

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar