Home | Blog | Advice | Books | Features | Food | Games & Quizzes | Holidays | Media Morph | Movies | Music | Poetry
Requiems | Store | Television | Travel | About Us | Archive


Web www.apeculture.com   

Celebrity Zoo: Commentary on The Surreal Life, Season 2

Starring: Ron Jeremy, Trishelle Canatella, Rob Van Winkle, Tammy Faye Messner, Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada

Episode 1: Hop on the Surreal Life Trolley
Episode 2: Tuna Melts and Meltdowns with Gary Coleman
Episode 3: Let's Put on a Show!
Episode 4: Preaching and Porno
Episode 5: Strip Volleyball
Episode 6: Talk Show Trauma and Farewell Food Fight

Can this cast top last year's lovable menagerie? Ape Culture will judge by convening a focus group to review and provide commentary on The Surreal Life (airing Sundays on the WB).

Episode 1: Hop on the Surreal Life Trolley

All: General exclamation of horror over Ron Jeremy in his underwear in preview
Tammy Faye is picked up at wax museum.
Britt: She’s just hideous.
Nerdia: Look at her eyes. She has spider eyes.
Ron Jeremy is second to be picked up. Tammy says she never met a porn star in her life.
Nerdia: Then she’s not preaching to the right people.
Erik Estrada is picked up at the donut shop.
Nerdia: I just recently figured out what CHiPs meant.
Britt: I used to watch that everyday.
Erik talks about getting 50% of CHiPs revenue and conspiracy theory that evil executives made sure he disappeared after the show ended.
Coolia: I don’t get it.
Nerdia: A lot of stars earn profits from their shows and they don’t disappear.
Ron imitates how every episode of CHiPs ended with Ponch smiling.
Coolia: Ron is funny.
Vanilla Ice enters and declares he prefers to be called Rob – "simple as a pimple".
Nerdia: I predict Ice is going to be an annoying one.
Coolia: I predict Ron will come out smelling like a rose, the way Vince Neil did.
Nerdia: You are still Vince's biggest fan after all these many months have passed.
All: Big laugh for tourist who waves around camera and says "oh my god, where's Vanilla Ice?!?"
Trishelle Canatella is picked up at strip club, declares that she doesn't think she's famous.
All: Laugh when Tammy Faye covers her ears and sings "la la la" while Trishelle talks about fucking.
Trishelle looks stunned when Tammy Faye says there will be no "making love" on this trip. Traci Bingham enters and declares she's a neat freak.
Britt: I feel bad for Tammy Faye. She’s like the token person not like anybody else.
Tammy Faye describes the home decor as crappy, while Erik feels it is surreal.
Nerdia: Nobody likes the house.
Coolia: Ron seems to like it. It's tacky like he is.
Trishelle salivates over the well-stocked bar, tells Ron she's a lush.
Coolia: I think Trishelle really might need AA, based on what I saw on Real World Las Vegas (the best season - ever). She’s not in college anymore. I bet that she will have sex with Ron in some drunken episode.
Tammy Faye declares, "I own an organ that was in Frank Sinatra's house. Ron replies, "I own an organ that’s been in many, many movies."
Coolia: Did I mention that Ron is funny? He's available for stand-up comedy gigs when not booked at strip clubs of the Midwest.
Nerdia: Tammy Faye is mothering Rob – cooking for him.
Coolia: She's this season's Gabrielle Carteris.
Nerdia: I think Tammy Faye is going to be covering her ears and singing "la la la" a lot.
Ron Jeremy strips down to his underwear.
Nerdia: Ron has no shame.
Christopher: He’s like Jabba the Hutt.
Rob wants to tear up the Vanilla Ice picture of himself in the pseudo-Warhol mural.
Coolia: Ice has some self-hatred issues.
In the hot tub, Rob professes his belief that we are all aliens.
Nerdia: It's interesting that Tammy’s very presence there has got them talking about their belief in God.
Britt: Did Erik just shift his toupee?
Coolia: It sure looked like it. It’s a good one. I didn’t think it was fake.
Nerdia: Oh no, they’re gonna make Tammy cry.
Coolia: Every week probably.
Nerdia: Check out the leopard print on the pool table.
Traci shows up late that night, after taping another TV show that day. Erik directs her to share a bedroom with Ron and "Trisha".
Coolia: Erik doesn’t know Trishelle's name yet. I guess she's right - she's not famous.
Trishelle seems to take an instant dislike to Traci. Traci criticizes the accommodations, stating, "I was expecting, you know, what we are accustomed to."
Coolia: Barf me out!
Nerdia: I don’t like Traci.
Coolia: She’s got an attitude problem.
All: Sigh of horror over Traci's collection of Bratz dolls.
Traci declares, "The Bratz dolls look like me."
Nerdia: "...And act like me."
Coolia: Yeah, they are the only dolls that appear to have eating disorders with their large heads and teeny tiny bodies.
Traci refuses to bathe in tub because she doesn’t like the raspberry color of the tub.
Coolia: What about all the poor people in Appalachia who can’t afford bathtubs and bathe in metal containers? Or the New Yorkers who have have showers in their kitchens?
A cat fight ensues when Trishelle calls Traci out. Trishelle says, "The diva behavior is just overwhelming." Ponch ponders - maybe Traci is a plant sent there to piss them all off, perhaps mistakenly thinking his agent booked him on "Celebrity Mole: The Yucatan."
Coolia: Last season's Baywatch girl, Brande Roderick, was so nice comparatively.
Grocery shopping controversy: Rob pitches a fit at Farmers Market when he can't find Jimmy Dean sausage.
Nerdia: They only have good food there.
Coolia: I like Ice’s nascar/redneck T-shirt.
Britt: Wow, Ice just called Erik "Hasselhoff".
Nerdia: Now that's just rude. Check it out - Ron is asking the cashier for a discount. That’s ironic given how cheap they said he was in the documentary about him - "Porn Star".
Ron and Tammy Faye briefly slow dance while waiting for the Surreal Life short bus to pick them up and take them all to dinner.
Coolia: That is surreal – Ron and Tammy dancing
Rob complains about the food at the Moroccan restaurant, but he ends up thinking it tastes good.
Nerdia and Coolia (simultaneously): Ice is such a hoosier!*
Coolia: He doesn't want to eat foreign food. He's proud to be an American (where at least he knows he's free)!
Ron and Traci face off at the pool table. Winner to get to see the others best assets. Traci loses but refuses to show Ron her boobies, only a pic of her fully clothed.
Christopher: She welched on the bet.
Britt: Well, she did say maybe.
Coolia: Ron’s comment about the turtle crapping on Traci’s pic was great.
Nerdia: Traci has eclipsed Corey Feldman, setting a new low for Surreal Life behavior.

Ape Culture Weekly Ranking (from least to most annoying)



  1. Ron - funny
  2. Erik - I didn't expect to like him
  3. Tammy Faye - she is trying while totally out of her element
  4. Trishelle - mildly annoying but gets credit for facing off with Traci
  5. Rob - total hoosier
  6. Traci - no redeeming qualities


  1. Ron - for letting it all hang out
  2. Erik
  3. Trishelle - a reality check for a reality show from a reality show vet
  4. Tammy Faye - she wasn't spouting off bible verses
  5. Rob
  6. Traci - like Trishelle, I have no patience for extreme diva behavior


  1. Erik - has heart, gave Tammy Faye the bedroom
  2. Ron - funny and sweet with Tammy Faye
  3. Trishelle
  4. Tammy - it's close between her and Trishelle, but I have issues with Tammy Faye's whole person
  5. Rob - poser
  6. Traci


  1. Tammy - open minded and warm
  2. Erik - gentlemanly
  3. Ron - crass behind people's back
  4. Trishelle - bland and immature
  5. Rob - lingering ego
  6. Traci - outrageous sense of entitlement


  1. Tammy
  2. Traci - she's entertaining. I see a lot of people like that at the beach club where I work. She's brave to show her true self.
  3. Ron
  4. Erik - he's very level headed
  5. Rob
  6. Trishelle - she talks too much

Nerdia’s Notes

What more could you want from a TV Celebrity "Real World" show than Tammy Faye Bakker slow-dancing with Ron Jeremy? After watching the documentary on Jeremy (Porn Star), I already recognized his character, the hedgehog, as someone we all recognize from high school - a sincere shlub, often cuttingly funny, who sometimes makes oddball and questionable life-choices but you kind of like him anyway. Now, I was just curious what Tammy Faye would think. And surreal surprise! She seems to be warming up to him so far. Ron made biting and funny comments about the other celebrities, as if to say, "I'm not one of them wacky celebrities - I'm just a normal guy." He also attempted to mediate some of the early house squabbles between the other high-maintenance celebrities, was willing to go with the flow and not obsess about the living conditions, gave thoughtful advise to Rob about overcoming his Vanilla Ice trauma, and always displayed an open mind about his roomies, even making a sincere attempt not to typecast Tammy Faye, who promised to be his most ardent opponent and judge. In fact, Tammy Faye symbolized a world which despises him and he didn't hold it against her, even from the beginning. Tammy Faye did have concerns about Ron, as well as the others - as it turns out, for good reason. One of these things is not like the other...and that thing would be Tammy Faye Bakker. Bizarre as her makeup palette is, she toned down potential whinny peachiness maybe because she soon realized what a futile battle it would be among this bunch of heathens, one alarmingly convinced we're all descendants of aliens. It's possible Tammy Faye is just in Celebrity Survival mode - but I admire her for at least adjusting to the situation and not bull-dozing through with her Pollyanna personal beliefs. Tammy Faye and Erik Estrada earned many points for being less annoying than I anticipated they would be. I never did appreciate the hysteria over Estrada in the 70s and worried he would come across as a fake Guy Smiley, an "I Don't Understand Why I'm a Has-been" type. He's not and scored points for good taste after not acquiescing to the hysterical demands of Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) over frozen Jimmy Dean sausage links. Surreal Life has, each season, smartly chosen a reality show non-celebrity citizen to participate in order to stir up the pot, some un-celebrity who is never intimidated by celebrity itself. They did it last year with Jerri Manthey and they do it again this year with Trishelle Canatella, the possible alcoholic party girl who makes unlikely bonds with folks like Tammy Faye. Annoying in some scenes and thankfully "in the face" of diva-dom in others, Trishelle may be the voice of reason on this show or she may turn out to be the voice of self-destruction. And if you've never seen a Hoosier* Diva or Redneck Diva, meet Rob Van Winkle. Together Traci Bingham and Rob display the bottom-of-the-barrel of celebrity self-serving behavior, making even the most annoying antics of Corey Feldman last year seem downright endearing.

Coolia’s Notes

I didn't think it was possible, but somehow the WB managed to top last year's cast. I was so excited to hear Ron Jeremy would get a chance to come into people's homes without people having to pay $9.99 per pay per view movie. I've been a fan of Ron's since seeing the excellent documentary on him - Porn Star. There's something horrifying yet endearing about him. I liked Erik more than I thought he would. I had always favored John over Ponch. But he seems the most down-to-earth of the cast members, other than Trishelle. It will be interesting to see if Trishelle and Traci continue their catfighting or reach a detente and acknowledge that two hot chicks can live together for 12 days under Glen Campbell's roof. I have some history with Vanilla Ice. Several years ago, while looking for something on an old videotape, I came across a series of Vanilla Ice videos and award show appearances I had taped off TV. Did I actually have a teen crush on Vanilla Ice? Apparently so - here was incontrovertible evidence. I must have blocked it out due to shame. Tammy Faye impresses me with her fearlessness - as if facing off with Jim J. Bullock everyday on their short-lived talk show wasn't harrowing enough, now she throws herself into this has-been-fest with five godless sinners. Can she save them all? I don't know, but I'm definitely tuning in next week to see who's making her cry.

*Hoosier = Missouri term for person who could be described as redneck or white trash or just blue collar, who stubbornly refuses to evolve, cut off mullet, take car off blocks in the yard, eat quiche. A willfully, uncultured clod.

Which cast member is aggravating your soul? Who would you like to see kicked off and who would you replace them with? Please share.

Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 1


Ape Culture and all associated pages are
ŠApe Culture 1998-2007 and evermore.

Click here to learn about
the Ape editors' book

Check out the Ape Blog for the latest Ape Culture News and Reviews

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Free Greeting Cards from Bravenet
Retrieving an Ape Card?
Enter Card Pick-up ID below: