American Idol host Ryan Seacrest may be well on his way to becoming the new Dick Clark, but he's doing it by using his celebrity to juice a raft of radio and TV shows that are little more than tiny tweaks on well-established showbiz platforms.
Take, for example, Seacrest's new unscripted "reality" show for NBC, Momma's Boys. Cobbled together like an uneasy marriage of The Bachelor and Meet the Fockers, this show takes three hot looking guys, adds 32 easily stereotyped women and mixes in three pathologically involved moms to create new levels of train wreck television.
It's a formula sadly predictable to anyone who has sat through a moment of down-market reality shows such as Rock of Love or I Love New York, pulled back a bit for network TV's wussy sensibilities.
In tonight's inaugural episode, viewers get a taste of the expected "crazy contestants:" 23-year-old aspiring singer Cara Quici and 50-year-old mama-from-hell Kalood Bojanowski.
Quici, a modern day Betty Boop who will whip out a few lines from one of her inane original songs the moment a camera comes close, seems a persona calculated to draw maximum TV time (including tears upon breaking a heel). Bojanowski, however, is so casually racist, sexist and emasculating, it's tough to believe she's anything but genuine.
"I cannot have a Jewish girl, I can't have a black girl … it has to be a white girl," says Bojanowski, an Iranian immigrant who seems blithely unaware that there are probably lots of viewers who would level the same backward prejudices at her and her son. "I don't want somebody from a divorced family … I need a girl just like me."
You mean, clueless, racist and embarrassingly confrontational?
There are other cardboard cut-out types: The hot mom. The 20-something guy who still has his laundry cleaned and food cooked by mama. The brash girl who foreshadows her failure by insisting she's going to demand these guys "grow a pair." (Did she read the title of the show she's on?)
Here's hoping viewers pass on this one. Even Dick Clark — who is as famously profane and hard-nosed off camera as he is nice on camera — knew not to push the needle too much while building his empire.