Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's not easy being green

And now for the shows I actually watched live (or close to it) last night. Spoilers for, in order, "America's Next Top Model," "Kid Nation," "Gossip Girl" and "Top Chef" coming up just as soon as I pretend to get a tracheotomy...

I'm in general an "America's Next Top Model" agnostic, tuning in a few times a cycle to laugh at the models being stupid and/or the photo shoots being creepy (crime scene photos! gender-bending!) but never caring enough to make it appointment viewing. But dammit, stupid Tyra Banks has made me care by casting Heather, the girl with Asperger's. I know enough people with various degrees of Asperger's that I want to see how she does, even though I could easily predict everything that's happened to her so far: from the other girls being that ignorant and mean about it (particularly the one who whined that she wouldn't want Heather to "cling" to her, which misses the entire point of Asperger's) to the fact that Tyra's going to keep her around for a while for uplift purposes. Still, getting the first photo callout (and the other girls' reaction to same) was a nice touch, and while I don't expect her to win, she does take a good picture and I guess I'm around as long as she is. (Prettiest/most model-y girl by far? Lisa, but, like that awful one with the purple weave said, is Tyra -- sanctimonious, Oprah wannabe Tyra -- really going to pick an ex-stripper?)

And I think I've seen all of "Kid Nation" that I need to. It's kiddie "Survivor," and while the To Eat Or Not To Eat dilemma plays out a bit differently with kids than it did between, say, Kimmi and Alicia, the show's neither appalling nor exciting enough to be appointment viewing.

I'm not at the quits stage yet with "Gossip Girl," but my feelings remain the same as they did after the pilot: it's a very well-executed teen soap with almost no adult appeal. For me, most of the fun comes from noting the minute variations between it and "The O.C.," like how the brunchers were all agog at Dan simply shoving Chuck, when the Newpsies would have needed Ryan in a full-out brawl to grind to such a disapproving halt; or (as Fienberg noted when we talked) how Penn Badgley makes a much less amusing Adam Brody substitute than Zachary Levi on "Chuck." (Also, I like how Dan's hair grew eight inches since the pilot, which took place the night before.) I continue to suspect that Chuck is going to get the Luke treatment and be portrayed as not such a bad guy (for a date rapist, anyway) by mid-season, but I don't know that I'll still be around by then.

Finally, "Top Chef" winds up with what most of us assumed would be the top three (since Tre went home, anyway), but with some curveballs along the way. Casey had been edited as co-frontrunner with Hung for a while, but the comments about her elk being too rare seemed like the closest thing to a harsh criticism any of the Elimination dishes got, and I briefly thought she would go home instead of Brian "Elk isn't seafood" Malarkey. And what's up with a challenge like this so late in the competition? It felt like last week's challenges signaled a move away from the gimmicks and towards some serious kitchen artistry now that we were close to the finale, but now we're back to things like cooking fish next to a river or trying to please a bunch of rodeo types with game? (Also, way to complain about Hung's lack of Vietnamese cooking during an Elk challenge, Colicchio. Are you going to spend next week whining that Casey shouldn't cook pan-Asian because she's a white chick from Dallas?) Dale acquitted himself well with his Plan B, but the editing has been hammering home the Hung's technique vs. Casey's artistry for so long that I can't see him being a factor next week.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I don't know. I'm actually enjoying Gossip Girl more than I thought I would. I think part of it is that the good girl lead character is actually kind of the bitch and that the bad girl villain is totally justified in treating her like s**t. And I think a lot of Blair's putdowns have been pretty great so far.

Anonymous said...

To me, the difference between "The O.C." and "Gossip Girl" is that both are cartoons, but "The O.C." knew it was a cartoon -- while "Gossip Girl" takes its girlfights and love spats way too seriously. And I think that the only way you can really enjoy it is to be the sort of person who already takes that sort of thing way too seriously: i.e., a 14-year-old girl.

It seems appropriate that "America's Next Top Model" figured out that the best way to get us to appreciate someone with Asperger's syndrome is to show us one who happens to be extremely attractive. Although, frankly, she doesn't seem any more emotionally stunted than your average houseguest on "The Real World."

Carrie said...

I love kely.

I enjoyed the second episode of Gossip Girl FAR more than the first. Much more fun. I do agree about Penn Badgley. He's been very appealing in other roles but they should not try to shoehorn him into the "Seth Cohen" mold. It doesn't play to his strengths, which are more geared towards him being the sweet, lovable guy rather than the super sarcastic jokester.

I hope they don't try to make Chuck palatable. Character development is fine, but trying to redeem him completely is a bad move, I think. Can't a show have a completely irredeemable, disgusting main character? That's just soapy fun.

Anonymous said...

It's kiddie "Survivor," and while the To Eat Or Not To Eat dilemma plays out a bit differently with kids than it did between, say, Kimmi and Alicia,

Are you talking about the thing with the chickens? I saw all of 10 min. of the show before giving it up altogether, but now I'm curious: How did it play out?

Susan said...

Yay, you blogged ANTM! This show has been my guilty pleasure since the first season - I can't seem to stop watching, no matter how stupid it is (yes, I'm so sure the whole show is going green, Tyra) or how much I make fun of it. The Asperger's storyline is definitely compelling- usually this show thrives on girl-on-girl hate and drama, so having a girl who won't engage must be confusing to all.

The girl with the purple hair will have that taken care of during the makeover episode. We'll see if it makes her look better or worse.

K J Gillenwater said...

Susan, I agree with you! ANTM is my guilty pleasure as well. Something compelling about watching these girls transform. My favorite part is not the girl vs. girl drama, but the photo shoots and how the final product turns out. Sometimes I even skip the arguing and go straight for that 2nd half.

I love Heather. I hope she goes really, really far. I also hope Lisa manages to go a long way and prove to all those catty girls that she isn't trash just b/c she is a 'dancer.' Maybe that's all this girl had going for her...I feel badly for her.

gack said...

As the parent of a child with autism, I can't tell you how excited I am to see a girl with Asperger's on ANTM. And, as a parent of a child with autism, I can't tell you how very nervous I am that there is a girl with Asperger's on ANTM!

Though I would never want anyone with a disability to be held back from anything, I am so nervous about what throwing her in with what is usually a bunch of bitchy divas will do to her self-esteem.

I hope she goes far, and is not damaged by the experience.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised outside of Denver, and I was mildly annoyed by all of the Colorado stereotypes in "Top Chef." Cooking on a stump with no running water was a lame Quickfire for the penultimate episode. It's Aspen, Bravo people, one of the most expensive resort towns in the world and home to some extraordinary restaurants. There's no reason to send the chefs out to the river to cook on a tilted campfire stove.

I did like the elk challenge, though. Game meats can be incredible if cooked properly and are served in many top-tier restaurants, so I didn't think the elimination challenge itself was too gimmicky. I could have done without the rodeo/cowboy stuff, though. Did I mention that Colorado stereotypes annoy me?