Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Easy A.


First off, let me start this entry with a big ol'


Okay. Now that that's over with, let me talk about The A-List.

Logo has a riveting new show about gay people eating, drinking, and talking. I think they swim and shop too, but my eyes glazed over during the promo, so I can't be sure. This is supposed to be exciting because it takes place in New York City (!!). Surely you've heard of it, it's the concrete jungle where dreams are made...(of?), and if you believe the hype, it's the most fabulous place on earth.

If you live here, though, it's a different story. Which is not to say that New York is not a wonderful place. But let's just say the editors of The A-List have probably left an awful lot of footage on the cutting room floor. Contrary to what Logo would like you to think, any New Yorker who is not contractually obligated to lie on camera will tell you flat out: there is no A-list in New York. Which is to say, there are about seventy A-lists in New York, and it's impossible be on them all. I fully believe all the guys on The A-List are, in fact, on a list. Maybe even a few of them. But one man's treasure is another man's trash, meaning that yes, even these handsome gents are personas non grata somewhere in this city. There are all kinds of scenes in New York, and they're all big enough to exclude somebody. For example, something tells me none of these boys made the cut for this month's Modesty BBQ, where guests are served a delicious heaping helping of humble pie. New York also has a lot of events for people who have devoted their time and attention to kindness, charitable acts, and improving the lives of their fellow man, instead of improving their abs at David Barton. So sorry, boys - you're not on that list either. You wouldn't even make Schindler's.

Logo would like you to believe that these men are somehow superior to your average, everyday New York City gay man. Why, because they let fly bitchy quips that probably originated on Will & Grace? Quick, find me a gay who doesn't think they're better than everyone else - and make a show about them. How about because so many of them are models? Please. Every meal I've ever had in this city has been served to me by a "model." And they all carry their headshots on their person at all times, probably waiting for the casting director of a show just like this. From the looks of things, it's possible that some of these guys have more money than your average gay New Yorker, because it's easy to be compatible with a wealthy older gentleman who just wants you for your body when you're not that interesting yourself.

What audience is The A-List aiming for, exactly? I don't think Logo could possibly have made The A-List with the intention of impressing gay Manhattanites, who already think they are - move over, Snapple! - the best stuff on earth. The most they can hope for is that New York gays will tune in and bitch about how the party they shot at two weeks ago is, like, sooo over. And no heterosexual, New Yorker or otherwise, would ever come within spitting distance of such programming - not because they're homophobic. They just know better.

So I guess it's geared toward gays in other cities, small towns in particular, for whom words like "Hamptons" and "Saks" ring bells of fabulousness because they heard them on Gossip Girl. Only those who have never been to New York could buy what this show is selling; perhaps a fifteen year old homosexual watching from his basement in rural Nebraska will see The A List and think, WOW! That's the life! But take it from me, Jailbait - it is not. I assure you.

The A-List doesn't depict an elite squadron of New York City men any more than Real Housewives reflects any given city's actual homemakers. There's nothing "real" about them. Sure, there are inherent truths to be found - gay men can be superficial and bitchy, go figure! But we get enough of that at clubs, thank you. I certainly don't need an extra dose of cuntiness from my TV set. Do you? These guys aren't particularly talented or particularly clever, and they aren't the sort of people I generally choose to socialize with in real life. Why would I spend an hour with them at home, when I could step out into the real real New York City, or anywhere, and find someone even slightly worthier of my attention?

I wouldn't. But before I go on, let me qualify my opinion by stating my disdain for reality television in general - this brand of envy-TV in particular. I have never seen an episode of The Real Housewives of (yawn). The only two I know by name are the ones I had the misfortune of seeing live in appearances at gay clubs, performing their awful, awful singles. (Please take the words "live" and "performing" with a big fucking grain of salt.) Nor do I keep up with Kardashians - I could not pick those girls out of a police lineup of gaudy skanks, unless of course they had their camera crew in tow (and we know they would). For the longest time, I thought "Speidi" was a superhero, and I sure as hell don't know which of those lazy Italian-Americans at the gym, pool, or laundromat is Snooki. Nor do I know with any certainty how to spell "Snooki." Nor will I bother to look it up, lest I soak up any knowledge of Jersey Shore accidentally. I could use that precious brain space for something far more useful. I am blisfully unaware of all of these people, and that's the way I like it. In the dark.

The reason for this isn't simply because I don't enjoy having luxuries I'm not privy to rubbed in my face, though that is partially true also. Really, it's because I don't see these "luxuries" as that luxurious. How can it be, when it's so artificial? "Reality TV" is the biggest misnomer of all time. These programs are as realistic as Battlestar Galactaca. Some even less so. They feature people essentially acting as versions of themselves, going to prearranged locations, where scripted things happen. The clubs they go to are sponsors, the products they use have been worked out in merchandise deals. I don't envy reality TV stars any more than I envy your Average Joe who walks into a theme park, because that's all it is. A ride. When the show ends and the cameras stop rolling, they'll return to whatever their real reality was, and I'd be willing to bet it isn't nearly as glitzy and cushy as it looked on TV.

So as for the Gay Housewives, the Kept boys, the A-listers, or whatever they'll be known as - I don't care. Truly. This is television at its most transparent, no better or worse than The Real Kardashians of Jersey Shore, Get Me Out of Here - I'm A Worthless Human Being!, or any other heterosexual equivalent. I've met Reichen and have nothing but nice things to say about him. The rest don't sound any more spoiled or obnoxious than people I encounter in New York every night of the week. Besides, who amongst us wouldn't sound like a horrible person if the cameras were rolling at all times?

But will I waste any of my time or self-esteem watching them navigate their way through New York's party scene, envying them every step of the way? Nah. I, too, have eaten in expensive restaurants and been to the Hamptons. I, too, have attended parties with movie stars and music idols. I, too, dated people who were on television shows not so unlike The A-List, and I didn't care then, either. (Which might be why it didn't work out.) To some, this might all seem pretty astounding, but for those who have chosen to live in New York and Los Angeles (and perhaps other places I can't attest to), it's just life. And once you've done all this, you've done need to rehash it all in an unimaginative, uninspired TV program that is a clone of dozens of others just like it, starring people who are clones of dozens of other people just like them. Is reality TV scripted? You betcha. And all the dialogue reads blah, blah, blah...

And yet I do not judge the "stars" of The A-List for being opportunistic. Who wouldn't capitalize on 15 minutes of fame if someone's willing to cast them on a reality show? We all want to be the beautiful, wealthy, quasi-famous people everybody's talking about - if not for the notoriety, then simply because it'd be more convenient than planning and paying for recreational activities ourselves. Do I wish someone would follow me around with a camera while I did nothing but drink, swim, and gossip in glitzy locations? Sure! And if I set my mind to it, and devoted the next two years of my life to making it happen, I probably could. See, when I try, I can make myself much more attractive than I am by nature, but it's very time-consuming. Were I to make myself pretty enough for the A-list, I would literally do nothing else...which I suppose is the point.

For these A-listers, this is their career - and perhaps a wise choice at that. Once upon a time, I thought my days were better spent on creative endeavors than on tanning, grooming, and the gym. But whereas these fellows have landed a TV show, I have only landed this blog. Curses! Foiled again. This match goes to the pretty boys, whose job is to be as famous as they can for as long as they can (which probably isn't very long at all). If I had only thought to make a living out of being self-absorbed and shallow and really set my mind to it, who knows where I'd be by now? Well, probably on Logo. The main difference between A-list's New York City gays and the rest of us isn't any ethereal quality that makes them worthy of the spotlight, but the mere fact that they wanted it and went after it and got it. So here they are. That's all.

If I have any beef at all with The A-List, it's with the people who are going to watch it. The internet is already abuzz about the show, and most of the hype is negative - gripes about how these guys are stupid, shallow nobodies unworthy of being branded A-listers. And you know what? I bet these people are going to tune in to the show, too, so they can keep on bitching about how terrible it is. "What is this world coming to, when this makes it on TV?" you complain, with one finger on the "Record All" button. You're having a love-hate relationship with reality TV, but guess who ends up as the battered wife in this scenario? Hint: it's not Reichen.

These TV shows exist to make us feel bad about what we don't have, then urge us to judge their subjects so we can feel better about ourselves. We're meant to revel in the luxury and live vicariously through them, then mock these "A-listers" for being superficial. We're supposed to be attracted to the eye candy, and then make catty comments about how they're so caught up in their looks. We laugh at them for trying to be famous when we're the ones turning them into D-list stars. Reality TV knows this, and is laughing all the way to the bank about it.

Does making fun of reality TV stars make us smarter and superior to them? I don't think so. Sure, these guy might be vapid, useless narcissists, but at least they're getting paid for the time they put into this show.

What's your excuse?

So turned off,



  1. Slamming reality TV is more played out than the F#$% word. You can't beat them. Join them?

  2. I'm not knocking reality TV as a whole, just these shows that seem to want it both ways: asking us to scorn people while secretly coveting their lives.

    I don't think this programming really does any good. It brings up feelings of contempt or insecurity (or both) in the viewer; it's "empty calories," devoid of nutrition. And the people who spend such time watching these programs, feeling superior, are getting the short end of the stick because there's nothing of value to be gained from this.

    Entertainment's entertainment and everyone finds different programs entertaining. I like making fun of things sometimes too, but not when it's so obviously set up like this. These people aren't even worth my attention. (Yes, I wrote a blog, but the blog was about the show and this genre of TV in general and not the individuals, who I still know almost nothing about.) These shows just make me feel so obviously manipulated. They want me to believe what they're showing and I don't. Not for one second.

    You say "join them" - give me one good reason why?