Invasion of the Lifeless, the Psychos and the Brits

So much to trouble to stir – it’s been brewing for months now. The networks, the “must-see” shows that are more potent than a handful of Tylenol PMs and why the British rule when it comes to sarcasm. What’s not to love?

Music and Reality (or a Lack of)

There are some things that just don’t belong on reality shows that include singers and celebrity judges/coaches. Those things are Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. I know, I know…those are fighting words. Really, though, how many times can you watch Mariah Carey sit there, staring down at a non-existent note card, hands petting her hair extensions, doing little more than mumbling some nonsense and stopping long enough to look off to her left in an effort to delay actually having to say something worthwhile? At least little Miss Firecracker from the UK – or Nicki Minaj to some of y’all – will actually stir a bit of trouble from time to time. I’m the first to admit – I had no idea who Nicki Minaj was before the latest season of American Idol. But dang that girl doesn’t skip a beat and yes, she’s controversial, but she’s about the only thing that has a pulse these days out of the AI camp.

And speaking of the absence of a pulse…Christina Aguilera. The Voice was a hit coming out of the gate three seasons ago. Despite Aguilera’s pettiness and frankly, what I can only define as bitterness, the show gained its audience and was one of the few sure things for NBC. She was quick to dismiss those who found the courage to stand before her and the other judges in hopes of seeing their own dreams come full circle, especially if there was some strange Mickey Mouse Club history she had with them. Her co-coaches, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and CeeLo Green were the heart of the show. So bad was she that she made deliberate efforts to sabotage a few of the contestants by giving brutal and untrue critiques.

The Golden Tickets

When it was announced Aguilera would be sitting out the fourth season followed by Green’s own announcement, NBC was handed a golden opportunity – and it used it to strike gold. And then Shakira and Usher arrived. It’s not until you see the authenticity that Shakira and Usher display that you realize just how drab Aguilera is. Shakira especially provides a startling contrast to her predecessor – and it’s one I hope plays a role in the network’s coaching choices for next season. When Aguilera and Green said they’d skip season four, they also said they’d be back next season. It would be a loss for NBC if it opted to not bring back the two personalities that blend seamlessly with the two seasoned coaches. The crazy thing is I couldn’t figure out why folks like Mariah Carey and Christine Aguilera bothered me until I saw Shakira – she’s a beautifully talented singer who’s actually happy with her life. She’s bubbly, genuinely nice and has the ability to put the other judges at ease because they’re not walking on eggshells around her.

A Little Telly and Tea

And speaking of walking on eggshells – never underestimate the cutting humor that comes from our friends from the UK and Australia – Gordon Ramsay and Tabatha Coffey are two examples of why TV is so much fun. If you’re not Bravo fans or if you don’t watch a lot of reality TV, you may not know who they are – but you should. 600full-mads-mikkelsenI’m just waiting for the day Ramsay discovers grits and realizes he’s not lived until he’s had some southern grandma whip him up a pot.

Love a Good Psycho – or Cannibal

Really, though, we’re heading into May sweeps before long and even with the Shakira and Usher punch and the British/Aussie talent – there’s still one thing more that’s bringing more characters we love to love – or hate – and those are the psychos. Whether it’s Norman Bates on A&E’s Bates Motel or Joe Carroll (played by James Purefoy, another UK favorite) on The Following (and by the way – am I the only one who can’t erase from memory Kevin Bacon’s Footloose character, Ren, dancing to Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Free”?) or the latest addition, Hannibal, who’s being played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, there’s something to be said about a few psychological disorders and psychopaths – especially when you toss in a bit of Hollywood unpredictability. All three are fascinating and they deliver just the right amount of skin-crawling ickiness. If you didn’t see tonight’s premiere of Hannibal, complete with the good doctor gobbling down one woman’s liver, followed by another woman’s lungs – beautifully arranged on fine bone china and a good wine, you missed something…weird. But fascinating.

Usually, Hollywood taints any sense of realistic efforts of those trying to create believable insanity, but fortunately, at least with these three made for TV shows, they’re not doing half bad. As long as they keep Mariah Carey out of the mix, anyway. On second thought….

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