Jeff Vrabel: Finally, must-see reality TV
Finally, I've found a reality show I can get behind.
For the most part, I tend to avoid the reality television. On the whole I find it, um, what's the word when you want to chew off your own right arm because it's a better option than something? Armchawnification. Yeah. That's it.
Reality TV makes me want to resort to some serious armchawnification. Except "High School Reunion," which airs on some channel that's in the 400s, and actually more makes me want to do a little bit of headbashagainstthedrivewaynafying.
But this is because to date, reality television has focused solely on doughy former celebrities and vacuum-headed numbskulls, such as aspiring Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the guy who played Kenickie in "Grease," the band INXS, Deion Sanders, that lady who sings for Poison, Joe Millionaire (who, and I think this is a safe guess, is no longer a millionaire), that muskrat-faced hobbit who yells at people in the kitchen, and that friendly grandfather who won "American Idol" that one year.
Frankly, I've been sitting back in breathless anticipation, waiting, pleading, panting a little bit and crying out to my television, "Sweet mother TV, when will you bring me a reality show that speaks to me, an average Joe who just wants a group I can relate to?" (I talk to my TV a lot, especially when I'm fighting with the blender).
Well, TV has answered my prayers, which, unlike God, it always does. Note to God: Yes, I am STILL MAD about your not giving searing facial hives to the 1984 San Diego Padres, and yes, now that you mention it, it IS too late.
And not just TV, but MTV! Which is the best kind of TV, especially since they graciously ended their policy of showing music videos in early 1986.
This week, MTV will debut "The Paper," a reality series that follows kids in an award-winning high school newspaper in as they strive to produce a quality product en route to launching careers in journalism. Or at least as much of a career as they can scratch out before the print industry collapses and they're all forced to take low-paying freelance gigs writing grumpy, self-absorbed humor columns. Or something. I mean, it's not a big deal or anything. Whatever.
Not counting the day they told me I could leave it, this is the greatest high-school-based news I have ever received in my life, as well as startling proof that MTV is still around.
Do the kids even still watch the MTV? I thought they were all Facebooking and making Chris Brown popular. Note to The Children: If you do still watch the MTV, drop me a line and tell me why. Do they still show that Herbie Hancock video with the mannequin legs that danced? That was super.
Because as a proud veteran of my high school newspaper, which was both a career launching ground as well as an extremely effective way to get out of a number of English classes, I can tell you that this is a HIGHLY UNDERRATED subsection of the high school experience. At least in my school, the newspaper was a nearly invisible cog in the machine, although that may be because mostly we played Risk on the computer and invented reasons to go outside and smoke extremely cheap cigarettes.
But my high school paper's disastrous work ethic should IN NO WAY minimize the work done by other dedicated and less smoky-smelling outfits.
These people do work that can be extremely difficult, creates great demands on their time and requires a great dedication to their craft, all of which will almost certainly be edited out of the MTV show in favor of catfights, extended close-ups of people looking like they're concentrating inhumanly hard and whoever most consistently wears the smallest shorts. And if that wasn't bad enough, in 20 years, they'll probably ask them to be on "High School Reunion."
Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer whose high school newspaper won awards, too, but you never heard MTV come knocking, because they were too busy showing "Beavis and Butthead" and Temple of the Dog videos. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com.