Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Lowest Common Denominator" Episode 1: VH1's Worst or Best Show Ever?


I have decided to go ahead and recap VH1’s latest and, if not greatest then probably most honest new reality show “Least Common Denominator.” As the voice over man explains while each contestant is driven in a 1997 Toyota Corolla to the house in the Hollywood Hills, “These people are competing to become VH1’s ultimate reality star. The winner will receive not only $100,000, but will also become part of the VH1 reality show family, guaranteed at least one show with ten episodes per year, and a place on ‘the circuit,’ where they will be paid to make personal appearances at clubs and bars from Normal, Illinois to Alamagordo, New Mexico.”

That is truly an exciting prospect. For some of these people, it’s pretty clear that’s the best they could ever hope for.

Once all fifteen contestants have arrived- six men, eight women, and one of indeterminate gender- they stand outside the house (it’s the same house they use for Rock of Love, Daisy of Love, Charm School, and Flavor of Love) with wondering looks on their faces. It seems to eat up a lot of time and you start to wonder, are they making fun of these people because they’re just standing around, or are they making fun of themselves for not giving these people anything to do?

One of the contestants, a woman with stringy hair that’s so dirty you can’t tell what color it’s supposed to be, sallow skin dotted with acne, wild eyes, puckered, dry lips the color of a drowning woman’s, and teeth that are chipped, yellow, and go in three directions at once interviews--

--actually, I can’t tell what it is that she’s just said in her interview segment. It sounds like “Mwoau foughf moulth fogothf morthorforker,” but I can’t tell. She is going to be fun to watch, I’m sure.

Finally, a stretch limousine rolls up to the house. From the middle doors of said vehicle there emerge three large men who introduce themselves as the show’s bouncers, and the host’s bodyguards, Biff, Beef, and Curtis. Sternly, the one called Beef says, “Anyone steps outta line, I pound you like Beef. That’s how I got my nickname. Do you understand?”

The bouncers and host arrived in a stretch limo similar to this one. Sorry, I couldn't find any pictures of the bouncers or the host. Maybe next week.

For some reason, the contestants cheer. They’re just excited to be on a reality show, even if they’re having their lives threatened by the bouncer!

At that point, the limousine’s back doors open, and two beautiful women in pink and black lingerie emerge, followed immediately by a telegenic and well-dressed young man. He smiles and introduces himself as the host.

“You can call me The Executive,” he says. “I’m with VH1. It’s me that you want to impress; and if you do, I will put you on television forever. One show a year for the rest of your life. Oh, and there’s also the matter of the $100,000!”

This gets a cheer from the contestants as well, and I have to say this time the cheering makes more sense. I’d cheer too, if I had a chance at television fame, and $100K. For that matter, I’m cheering right now, and all I’m doing is watching the show.

“Before we get started,” The Executive continues, “I’d like to address the show’s title. Some of you might be offended by the idea of competing for ‘Lowest Common Denominator.’ But I’d like to point out that it’s actually very complimentary. The word ‘lowest’ means bottom, or foundation. It’s only on a sturdy foundation that anything can be built. The word ‘common’ means applying to the most people, which implies unity, or commonality. As President Barack Obama has said once in a speech, ‘We share a common destiny.’ And ‘denominator,’ of course, is a mathematical term, and math is very smart.”

The host invoked the name of Barack Obama to help explain the show concept. In the above photo, the president is texting his agent to have his name removed from the reruns.

The producers cut back to the contestants, who are staring with blank faces. Again I wonder, who are they making fun of here?

Inside the house, The Executive announces that he’s going give everyone nicknames based on their most obvious characteristic.  Contestants are brought one at a time into "The Executive Boardroom," which, unlike most boardrooms I've ever seen, has a throne.  The Executive sits on the throne, and is flanked by Biff, Beef, and Curtis.

The first one up is the woman with the strange teeth who interviewed earlier. “What’s your story?” he asks her.

This time, producers give her subtitles to explain her incoherent mumblings. Although, how they know what she’s saying is beyond me. Maybe they had her write it down later? (Even then- her hands shake so much, and her fingers are so spindly that I find it hard to believe she could hold a pencil.)

“I’m excited to be here” (the subtitles read) “I’ve been on meth for about three months now, and it was either this show or rehab.”

“I think I’ll call you ‘Meth Mouth,’” The Executive says.

Next up is an attractive woman in high heels, so she is called “High Heels.” I have to say that I think The Executive missed a real opportunity with the nicknaming of this contestant, considering the fact that she has the word “Left” tattooed over her right breast, and “Right” tattooed over her left breast. He could have nicknamed her “Can’t Tell Her Left Breast From Her Right,” or "Got Her Tattoo While Looking in a Mirror" or something. Okay, maybe that’s not particularly clever, either.

The first man takes his spot before The Executive. He’s in great shape, a kind of a beefy guy with spiked hair on his head, and completely hairless from the neck down. He’s wearing a tight button up shirt and tight jeans. He tells The Executive that he’s a male exotic dancer.

“Are you gay?” The Executive asks. “Because if you’re gay, I’m gonna nickname you ‘Gay.’”

“I’m not gay,” the male exotic dancer says.

“In that case, I’m gonna nickname you ‘Closet.’”

Next up is a woman who looks to be about 170 pounds or so. She is what I would call “voluptuous,” but The Executive apparently doesn’t agree with my assessment, as he starts making oinking noises as soon as she steps in front of him.

He turns to the bouncer called Curtis. “Is ‘Pig’ too ‘on-the-nose’ for this one?”

Curtis nods.

“I’ll nickname you ‘Mudflaps,’” The Executive says.

Mudflaps sneers at him and walks away.

The next one is man who is probably about 28, with a beer belly and the thick arms and neck of someone who was probably once a football player, but who now spends a lot of time sitting. He explains that he’s a truck driver, in a thick southern accent that also inspires producers to use subtitles. He sounds like the male version of Paula Deen. He actually kind of looks like the male version of Paula Deen, too.

“Damn!” The Executive says. “I wish you’d come in before that last woman, I could have named you ‘Mudflaps.’ Instead, I guess I’m just gonna call you ‘Redneck Trucker.’”

Redneck Trucker kind of looks like a younger, more masculine version of Paula Deen. Although, not much more masculine.

The next is a woman who explains that she is there for her children. “I have three kids,” she says, beaming. “You might have heard about me, actually- I was on the CBS Morning Show, because I was a medical anomaly. I had triplets that were fathered by three different men. I slept with them all on the same night, and they all fertilized me. Doctors were baffled.”

The Executive looks baffled, himself. Beef, Biff, and Curtis all look slightly embarrassed. Could they…? No, of course not.

“Your nickname is ‘Slutmom’!” The Executive says.

The next up is a woman who works at P.F. Chang’s. The Executive calls her “Chang.”

Next is a man who went to college, and claims to read at least five books a year. He’s dubbed “Weirdo.”

The next is the one of indeterminate gender. Now that we’re given a closer look at him/her, I still honestly can’t tell if she’s a he or he’s a she. Of course, it doesn’t really matter what I think. It’s The Executive’s opinion that matters. They talk for awhile, and for the life of me I can’t remember anything either of them says. It’s like I’m experiencing missing time, or something.

“Well, you’re such a nobody and a drip, I’m gonna nickname you ‘The First One Eliminated,’” The Executive says.

The First One Eliminated interviews, “That doesn’t bode well.” I have to agree with him/her.

The next one is a woman with a number of tattoos. She’s called “Tattooy.”

Then a man who looks like he’s about 140 pounds dripping wet is dubbed “Pantywaist.”

The two-years-sober alcoholic woman is nicknamed “Alcoholic.”

The woman studying to be a dental assistant is nicknamed “Smartypants.”

Next up is a man who appears to be Latino, mid-20s, and imposing in his wifebeater shirt and low-riding jeans. His muscled arms are covered in sleevework.

“Are you from Mexico?” The Executive asks.

“I’m from Compton,” he says. “Born and raised.”

“I’m gonna call you, ‘Illegal,’” The Executive says, after due deliberation, apparently not hearing what the man just said.

Finally, the last contestant appears. Since he is the last man to get a nickname, and he loves to play basketball, he’s nicknamed “The 6th Man.”

The 6th Man protests, “I don’t like to play basketball!”

“Would you rather I nickname you ‘The Second One Eliminated’?” The Executive asks.

“’The 6th Man’ is fine,” he says, miserably.

Now that everyone’s gotten a nickname, the contestants are encouraged to mingle during the first ever “Lowest Common Denominator” alcoholic mixer in the garden behind the house. Of course, being a sensitive viewer of reality shows, I’m wondering about the wisdom of having an “alcoholic mixer,” when at least one of the contestants is an admitted alcoholic you’ve just nicknamed “Alcoholic,” but I’m happy to see The Executive address that issue head-on.

Time for the contestants to "mix"!

“I know that at least one of you is an alcoholic,” he tells them. “And I’m counting on you to really show the rest of the contestants how to have a good time!”

Alcoholic does just that, heading straight for the bar, where her two years of sobriety come to a crashing end. When I say crashing, I mean that literally, as after only two drinks she throws a half-empty bottle of vodka at High Heels because she doesn’t like her “altitude.”

I think she meant “attitude,” but she’s drunk, so what can you do?

Closet spends the time trying to “hook up” with the female contestants. His attempts are so pathetic, it reminds me a little of myself. First he approaches High Heels. “That was really bad, what alcoholic did to you,” he says, softly. “I think your altitude is just right.”

“Thanks,” she says, barely paying attention.

“Would you like to make sex with me?” Closet asks.

High Heels snorts. “Please. I’m a starf*cker. You’re not famous yet. If you win this show, then maybe.”

Closet next goes to Alcoholic, who tells him she’s not drunk enough yet, and by the time she gets drunk enough she’ll be passed out anyway, Slutmom tells him she’s worried about what her kids might think of her (even though she does think he’s kind of cute), Chang tells him she doesn’t like men who appear to her to be gay, Smartypants is too concerned about disease, and Mudflaps just walks away without giving him any excuse.

Finally, Meth Mouth agrees, and they retire to one of the bathrooms. Even though we can’t see through the door, they’ve both still got their microphones on, so we can hear all the incoherent grunting. It makes for an uncomfortable two minutes.

Closet interviews, “She wasn’t my first choice, and I don’t really like the way she looked, but the way I do the sex with women, I don’t really have to look at their faces.”

I have to admit, even though the substance of what Closet has said could be construed as offensive, I do find it charming the way he says “do the sex with women.”

The next day the contestants are seated in what looks like the classroom from “Charm School,” and presented with their first challenge. The Executive explains: “Here at VH1, we take our background checks very seriously. As you all know, in order to appear on this show, you had to fill out an exhaustive one-page questionnaire in which you had to give us your names, addresses or at least cross streets, and you had to tell us the worst thing you’ve ever done in your lives. By the way, I’m surprised by how many of you have had sex with animals. Anyway, in today’s challenge, we’ll present you with five people who didn’t make it on this show. It will be up to you to figure out why they couldn’t be allowed to live here in the house with you.”

The contestants cheer, for some reason.

“And to help you out with that, you’re going to get some information on how to perform background checks by private investigator and star of ‘Sex Decoys: Love Stings,’ Sandra Hope!”

Sandra walks in wearing a very short white skirt and impossibly high heels, higher even than High Heels’s high heels. She explains, “The best way to get information on someone is to dress as a slut and try to entrap them into giving you information. Most people are disarmed by the appearance of a beautiful woman, and will tell her anything.”

Reality TV star and "Private Investigator" Sandra Hope tells the Lowest Common Denominator contestants how to gather information. Hint: It involves dressing like a tramp.

She then helps each of the contestants to create slutty outfits. Is it so wrong of me to think that Closet looks really hot in his skirt?

Okay, forget I said anything.

There follows a montage in which the contestants are shown speaking to the five questionable people in question. Jim, we’re told, is a serial killer, who’s actually wanted in three states. Why the producers don’t just turn him over to the authorities is a question left unanswered. Lisa has seven different diseases, which is three more than the limit for appearing on VH1 reality shows. Harold is missing two limbs, although to be fair to the contestants you could only tell that he was missing one. Mikey is eight years old, and therefore was deemed too chronologically young to appear on a VH1 reality show. Miley was a cat, and not quite human enough.

The First One Eliminated interviews, charmingly, that “I really want to do well with this challenge- I think it’s the only thing that can keep me from being eliminated tonight.”

S/he does do well- The First One Eliminated is the only one to get enough information to determine the actual reasons why each of the potential contestants was left off the show. But will it be enough to save him/her?

The Executive, along with Sandra Hope and, for some reason, Danny Bonaduce, are the judges for this challenge. Even though she got every single one very wrong (for instance, she guessed that Mikey was actually a robot), it’s High Heels who is declared the winner.

“And your prize,” Danny Bonaduce announces, “is to go on a date with me, which I’m sure excites you, because I’m such a BIG star!” I guess that explains why Danny Bonaduce was one of the judges.

High Heels bounces up and down excitedly.

Was the only reason Danny Bonaduce would debase himself enough to appear on this show just so he could get a little nookie?

“That is bullsh*t,” Illegal interviews. He better get used to it. These shows are supposed to be entertaining, not fair.

Anyway, during their date, High Heels and Danny Bonaduce have sex in a dumpster.

While they’re on their date, The Executive holds the elimination ceremony. In what is a surprise to exactly no one, The First One Eliminated is the first one eliminated. “Now that that person is gone,” The Executive says, presenting each of the remaining contestants with their complimentary bottles of Colt 45, “You all need to realize that none of you is safe. Winning this competition will change one of your lives forever, possibly for the better. Now get drunk, get as little sleep as possible, because tomorrow is another challenge!”

It looks like it’s going to be an exciting season.

Those contestants on Lowest Common Denominator who are not eliminated are presented with a bottle of Colt 45 during the elimination ceremony.

Stretch limo pic source.
Obama pic source.
Paula Deen pic source.
Alcoholic beverages pic source.
Sandra Hope pic source.
Danny Bonaduce pic source.
Colt 45 pic source.


shampoo said...

I think danny was there because some of the other shows that bewailed vh1 reality shows used clips from "breaking bonaduce". even though that show didn't really fit in with the background check problems. I guess he provided them with more "out of control behavior" than other shows that they watched for five minutes. of course, the antics of ryan jenkins were pulled after three episodes, so who can say what he may have done on camera.

A.Jaye said...

High concept - Low denominator. The show that brings reality into your fantasy.

Created by Ricky Robot
Produced by Thrill Fiction

Background checks by Shampoo.

shampoo said...

hehe... I also think the house is probably decorated with the remnants of shows past. is the executive using daisy's old bedroom?

but, me do background checks? I saw an episode of xfiles where mulder does these. it looks very boring. of course, he was actually doing them because the fbi is strict like that (even on tv).