Wednesday, December 17, 2008
OK, let's just stipulate that everything we see on NBC's new 10 p.m.-hole filler Momma's Boys is true. My gut says no, and even my mind smells way too much set-up and too many too-perfect lines, but for the sake of argument -- and entertainment -- let's buy in.
Momma's Boys -- in case you're too good for the worst sort of TV -- is a dating reality show, yet another iteration on The Bachelor. This show's gimmick is simple: three eligible bachelors interact with 32 hand-chosen prospects with their mothers in tow. The men (or should I say, "men"?) live off-site but the moms bunk down with their potential daughters-in-law.
It's a show designed to elicit the most basic form of satisfaction: Am I ever better than these people!
Start with the "dreamy" bachelors. They're of reasonable handsomeness, and are gainfully employed. So why do they still live at home with mom, in bland suburban bedrooms with baseballs hats for décor? Most people would say because they're lazy, immature, scared, too attached to mom, spoiled, functionless and so on. Employed guys in the mid-20s that live with mom: Big Red Flag. Besides the aforementioned flaws, at best, you're gonna hook a guy who expects his betrothed to replace mom, who seem defined here as an unconditionally adoring, full-time housekeepers.
The gals -- who can seriously keep track of 32, half of whom seem to be the exact same trashy-looking bleached blonde? -- are a purposefully mixed lot. They are a variety of ethnicities; heights; weights (though as far as I could see this equaled one girl that was extra bony and one girl that was extra fleshy); personalities (you got giggly, outspoken, teary, bitchy); and occupations. Some seemed "ideal" given our preconception of good wife material -- school teachers and nurses; others, well, let's be honest: Only the producer of a low-rent TV reality show would stack the deck with not one, but two, nude models. (One posed for Playboy, the other for Penthouse -- and discussions of distinction are occurring all over America now.)
The inevitable spatting between the girls hasn't kicked in yet, I'm guessing, because for the first episode, the men were mostly absent, and thus: who to fight over? There was one mini-meltdown, the sort of thing that gives all women a bad name -- one girl cried when the heel of her shoe broke, and another girl yelled at her for crying, causing, naturally, more tears.
And then, there are the moms, the enablers of these pathetic man-child situations. ("I can't help it" was their common refrain, explaining their "devotion" and the buying of their sons' underpants. Uh, yes, you can.) The show offers three distinct archetypes: "fun" buddy-mom; smothering Jewish mom; and hot-headed racist mom.
The last mom -- a Catholic of Iraqi background with a Polish surname from the greater Detroit area -- in her introductory video gave an impassioned defense that her son needed to marry a white girl. No blacks, no Asians, no Jews, no non-Catholics, no Muslims, no gals from divorced families, no "fat butts" -- in sum, "no mixing."
Imagine the "fun" when the 32 girls watched this tape. (NBC sure isn't afraid to disregard the new warm-and-fuzzy, post-racial, post-election vibe and purposefully stir the pot with decades-old race-baiting gimmicks. For entertainment.
To their credit -- or per the producers' instructions -- the girls were properly outraged. One girl commented later than the racist mom was so awful that "even the dumb girls" were upset by her.
Of course, all this was prelude to the first water-cooler-ready act of the episode, when racist mom came to the house. After seeing the tape, some of the not-white girls had formulated a stealth plan, whereby they would be sweet-as-pie to mom, but then to get revenge, would mack hard on her son.
But this quickly crumbled when a cuss-filled screaming match broke out between one of the black contestants and racist mom (who despite her long laundry list of 1950s-era qualifications for a perfect daughter-in-law seemed quite comfortable shrieking her own f-bombs at strangers and on TV). All very expected -- you could probably write most of the back-and-forth screaming yourself -- girl demands apology, mom avers she isn't racist.
But, this shameful scene (I can't look away!) did deliver the show's first great take-away line, when racist mom, trying to prove she had much love in her heart for black people, hollered by way of defense: "I know half the Detroit Lions!"