Reality Rundown: Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Saw Dogs & Next Food Network Star

After writing about Shark Tank, The Devils Ride and the suspiciously missing Real World, I kept thinking of more and more reality shows I wanted to say a few quick things about. This time we’ve got The Real Housewives of New Jersey, a show I used to blog about pretty consistently but have changed thoughts on greatly in the past few seasons, Discovery’s Saw Dogs and Next Food Network Star. Let’s jump in, shall we?

There was a scene in the most recent episode of Jersey Housewives where, after Teresa’s daughter freaks out about cheating at a bunch of games in the yard (huh, wonder why the word CHEATING is such a trigger for her, Joe), Caroline’s daughter Lauren essentially lays out my thoughts on the current situation: why can’t we stop inviting all these crazy people to our family events and just have fun as a family? After four seasons of crazy, I’m all filled on up Teresa’s particular brand. She’s clearly incapable of seeing the world from any perspective but her own skewed one and it feels a little sad to continually see her try to make reality (and reality TV) bend around her to her will to form her life.

I’ve said before that I’d be perfectly happy watching a series about just Caroline and her extended family, but even that doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing at this point. Is anyone else sick to death of hearing Lauren talk about losing weight while seeing her do things that will not help her in any way? Lazily slapping golf balls with her dad and hanging around a kitchen just isn’t going to cut it. This episode in particular seemed PACKED with her bitching and honestly, who cares? Losing weight sucks, either do it or don’t, but stop talking about it either way. The rest of them are fine, I’m glad to be done with Jacqueline’s daughter for the time being, she’s just awful, and I like Kathy and her crew enough, same with the Gorga’s, but I’m starting to think the bloom is off the rose on this one. And, no Bravo, I don’t need more “housewives” shoehorned in, starting over completely makes the most sense to me and still give Caroline her own show!

And now for something completely different, we’ve got Discovery’s Saw Dogs, a show about chainsaw carvers who make beautiful pieces. Some of my favorite reality shows are the ones that follow artistic people who use their talents to sell pieces and the process they go through in first figuring out what to do and then doing it. The fact that this job even exists is amazing to me, let alone the fact that these guys are so damn good at it. In one marathon a few weekends back, I saw them make an amazing tree house, a giant eagle and plenty of other amazing things.

My only problem with the series is that they have a Chumlee. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it comes from History Channel’s Pawn Stars which features a  spacey character of the same name who seemingly has no business being anywhere near the job. If it were a regular TV show you’d just assume this is the goofball people keep around to make or bounce jokes off of, but in reality you’re constantly thinking, “Why don’t they fire this idiot?” In the case of Saw Dogs, the Chumlee is named Ryan. He looks and acts like a Will Ferrell character which is odd in its own right, but then you add in the fact that he’s not great at his job (he ran the forklift through one of the barn walls) and bitches way too much for an apprentice and you wonder if he’s there because he was really there or because the producers wanted a Chumlee. I’m more in favor of the natural method, but even if it is a set-up, there’s enough coolness going on to keep me coming back for more.

Lastly I want to say a few things about The Next Food Network Star that I didn’t say over on my food blog Monkeying Around The Kitchen. First off, while I like the idea of switching the format up — three teams with Food Network stars talking them through the challenges with the bottom two going into a room with FN execs and trying to keep themselves in the game assisted by their team leader — it feels like the show is spinning its wheels a bit. The challenges I’ve seen so far have been great, but doesn’t it seem like there’s an awful lot of fat this season that’s just waiting to be trimmed? I bet if you watched just the first episode, you could probably make a list of the first five or six people who will be let go with a pretty darn good level of accuracey. Sure, it’s possible that one of them will really find a place to shine, but I highly doubt it.

The other huge strike against the show is the length. Does it really need to be 90 minutes? Worse yet, those last 3o minutes go up against Mad Men. I don’t think there’s a show I would watch instead of MM. I know people out there are exactly the opposite, but it also seems like these episodes are padded like those guys who train attack dogs. Do we need to spend so much time not only showing everyone’s everything, but also laying it on so thick that you really don’t have a choice but to understand who’s being thrown to the wolves about half way through. At the end of the day, the show is more boring than it has any reason to be. I highly recommend following Alton Brown on twitter, though, if you are a fan as he has some excellent behind the scenes commentary during the airings.

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