'Most Eligible Dallas': When reality TV goes horribly wrong
If there's ever a class on the delicate art of making addictive reality television (and who knows, there probably already is), "Most Eligible Dallas" (Bravo, Mon. at 10 p.m.) will undoubtedly be part of the curriculum. Unfortunately, the show will be included as part of the lecture on how ideas that probably looked good on paper can become unwatchable crap. I'm sure "MED" seemed like a natural to Bravo; attractive young people with more money than sense swan around Dallas, riding mechanical bulls and doing charity work when they're not busily pumping up their muscles (the guys) or hair (the girls). Actually, even on paper this show seems like a pretty bad idea, so I'm not sure I can make a lot of excuses for Bravo here.
When I tuned into the first episode of "MED," I found it so thoroughly boring I kept trying to think of other things I could do while the show was on, like sock sorting or transcendental meditation. Ultimately, I gave it about forty minutes before conceding defeat. Perhaps it will get better with time, I told myself. Watching it again last night, I can say with some certainty that the level of suckitude has remained constant. That level, of course, is set at a "Spinal Tap" worthy 11.
Our six core "MED" stars, a "Friends"-like mix of three girls and three guys, are so achingly dull that they lack even the good time gaucheness of Snooki and company on "Jersey Shore" or the campy drama of "The Real Housewives" franchise. But dullness isn't the only problem here. Having too much money may be a burden (one I think most of us wouldn't mind carrying for a while), but having too much money, little common sense and a lack of interest in the world at large makes for people whom you'd like to hold under water until they stop moving, just so you don't have to listen to them speak. Oddly enough, these people do not make for great television.
Courtney's main interests in life appear to be her hair and flirting with Matt, the onetime college quarterback she will never, ever date. For some reason. Though they both like one another. I'm fairly sure this is a "will they or won't they" plot cooked up by the producers (they're like "Friends"! It's like Rachel and Ross! Or Rachel and Joey! Or something!), as it is so thoroughly nonsensical in this case it's a situation that only exists in the world of television sitcoms.
The problem of course, is that there's nothing to like about either Courtney or Matt. Courtney seems to think she's the funny raconteur on the show, which really means she's one of those people who monopolizes cocktail party conversation when no one particularly cares what she has to say but her fellow guests are too polite to point this out. Matt seems to think he's God's gift to women and gleefully picks up armloads of floozies at the local bar but turns pouty whenever anyone he has a passing interest in - Courtney, Neill - talks to anything with a Y chromosome.
Like Matt, Glenn is a football player (though he made it past college to play for a number of NFL teams including the Oakland Raiders), though a slightly less annoying one. Still, he's equally entranced with his own musculature and limits himself to a "two date maximum," but at least he's had one long term relationship. Because Glenn has glimmers of not being completely soulless, we don't see as much of him.
Drew, the only gay man in the core six, feels that he's a wild, crazy maverick because he's gay AND he likes cars (this is a helpful hobby, given that he works in the family car dealership business). Drew apparently learned everything he knows about gay men from watching "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Drew has the potential to be interesting -- he was morbidly obese and has lost 200 pounds, he pines for an ex who's about to move to New York -- but he lacks the insight and self-awareness to make his personal trials relatable. He worries that his family name will attract gold diggers, which may be a valid concern but one that only makes viewers at home want to gag.
The two remaining women on the show -- Tara and Neill -- might have had potential to draw us in on a different show, one not so clearly desperate to create "fun" activities for the cast ("You're going to go for a group walk! You're going to eat at an outdoor cafe! You're going to make chocolates in a chocolate store!" What is this, "Blind Date"?) to distract us from the lack of compelling plot and drama. Neill is a single mom who has moved back into her parents' home in Dallas after trying to find fame as a musician and actress in New York and Los Angeles. The struggles of a young woman whose dreams have crash landed her back at Mommy and Daddy's house with a kid in tow seem interesting, but mostly Neill is simply blonde catnip for Matt, who needs someone viable to make Courtney really, really jealous.
And then there's Tara. I want to like Tara. When I met her at TCAs, she was less interested in plugging the show than in talking about her work rescuing dogs (a mission close to my heart). She claims she wants to get married and yet has broken off four engagements, but I'm guessing that maybe those guys didn't like the fact their fiance kept breaking into people's houses to steal their neglected dogs. Whatever is going on with her, it will require deeper digging than anything we're going to see on "MED."
It was in watching Tara do her good deeds that I was most struck by the biggest problem of this show. Tara, determined to rescue a dog that's stuck in a dirty, cluttered backyard in a poor part of town, nimbly hops the fence, lures the pup from its hiding place and walks it to her car as Drew gleefully tries to get her to say "Operation Beaver Snatch" for some reason. Tara does, fortunately, leave a card for the owner so they don't think their dog has simply been stolen -- but really, the dog really has simply been stolen. And while I understand her impulse and sympathize, there's something more than a little off-putting about a wealthy woman making a judgment call and snatching an animal that is, if not treasured, at least being fed and does not seem to be abused. It's not the way Tara would care for a dog, and thus, it's unacceptable -- and so she has the right to do what even Animal Control likely could not. Laws, shmaws. The sense of entitlement and privilege we see here (never undercut by the campy social striving of "Real Housewives," for example) is an undercurrent being emitted from the whole cast throughout the show, like a low squeal that annoys you before you understand where it's coming from. But in this case, it's easy to shut it off.