I Have Seen the Enemy, and His Name is MC Cashmere Luxury
The other night my girlfriends and I gathered for our weekly Girls Night Out, which turned into a Girls Night In as it was cold and snowy outside. We found ourselves sipping wine and flipping TV channels aimlessly while chatting about our days. We eventually settled on ABC’s Winter Wipeout, and I can say without hesitation that this is the dumbest thing I have ever seen on television.
The premise is simple: a group of adventurous young guys and girls attempt to conquer a giant obstacle course à la American Gladiators, with a few small changes: the obstacles are bigger, wetter, and there are inexplicably lots of bubbles. It’s like they’re trying to recreate an Ibiza foam party or something. The obstacles are, of course, extremely challenging, and no contestant seems to make it through without at least one knock-off into the giant sudsy pool below. Contestants advance through each round until there are just three left standing, who then compete for the $50,000 cash prize.
Now, don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of things I would do for $50,000. But being a contestant on Wipeout isn’t one of them. The reason is simple: to be a contestant, you have to be certifiably insane.
As proof, take a look at some of the contestants from the episode Ice, Ice Baby. You have Christian Debernardi, who came dressed as an Oscar statue in a skin-tight, gold lamé unitard. Michelle Assadi, self-described as a wannabe Kardashian who “likes to get sticky.” Carly Smith, who dresses as and demands to be called Wonder Woman. Sky Bartlett, who lives in a log cabin he built himself and plays the bones. The unnamed taxidermy enthusiast who wears a dead wolf on her head and brings a stuffed squirrel with her to the show. Abner Ramirez, a country music songwriter and the token “normal guy.” And, of course, Austin James, otherwise known as MC Cashmere Luxury, who looks like the bastard love child of John Oates.
The obstacles are ridiculous, the wipeouts are epic, and the show’s hosts, John Anderson and John Henson, pun and deadpan their way through 43 minutes of cringe-inducing, wince-worthy television. The “on the ground” talent is Vanessa Lachey, who manages to look both uncomfortable and self-loathing most of the time. But she puts on a brave face and keeps at least three feet between herself and the contestants, and really, who can blame her?
The winner of this particular episode is MC Cashmere Luxury and his amazing mustache. The fact that this man walked away with $50,000 while I’ll be paying student loans for the next twenty-five years makes me die a little on the inside.
Reality television gets dumber and dumber every year, with no end in sight and no hope for improvement. We are not that far away from Ow My Balls. I feel about reality television the way Wil Wheaton feels about the Kardashians. The only thing that keeps me from going all Walden Pond is the fact that good, smart, clever television is still being created: Parks & Rec, New Girl, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Justified (yes, Justified!). Without those bright spots on the airwaves, I would lose all hope.
I think (I hope?) that at some point, we will reach the end of stupid reality TV. Someday we will start moving back toward thoughtful, intelligent programming. There has to be a point beyond which we will not venture, right? Right?