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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 2: Tuna Melts and Meltdowns with Gary Coleman

Christopher- Traci’s boobs are so fake.
Gasp of horror at Ron Jeremy sleeping in the nude. Erik calls Vanilla "Johnny Rocket” because when he goes off, he’s like a rocket.
Nerdia – Why is the pantry off limits? Are they worried the celebrities have sticky fingers?
Britt – Isn’t Traci going to her other job today again?
Coolia – Maybe the gig is over.
Erik recognizes Gary Coleman’s shadow through the front door. Gary Coleman comes to interview the celebrities for the day’s job at Mel’s Diner in LA.
Britt - Erik and Gary probably know each other. They were famous at the same time.
Coolia - Rob has no right to be irritated by Gary ’s presence. They are the same C-level of punchline celebrity.
Gary interviews them all very seriously. During Ron Jeremy’s interview he shows off his fancy waitering skills.
Nerdia – Wow, I am always impressed by Ron. He has many talents.
Gary appoints Erik busboy because he has the biggest muscles.
Coolia – Vanilla looks pissed like he thinks he has bigger muscles than Erik.
Christopher – Look at those boobs! (Traci’s waitering outfit is very low cut.)
Britt – They couldn’t look any faker if they tried.
Nerdia – We know Gary Coleman has a temper from that security guard incident. This is a recipe for disaster.
Coolia – Tammy should be calling him Rob, not Ice. He asked to be called Rob and she should respect that.
Nerdia – Simple as a pimple. Maybe Tammy’s never had a pimple. But with all that makeup…she probably has.
Coolia – I think Ron is too dirty to be handling food.
Britt – I think people would be freaked out if they knew a porn star was handling their food.
Coolia – Traci is going to get good tips with those boobs.
Vanilla Ice picks up Gary Coleman as if Gary were a little kid. Gary looks very annoyed.
Coolia – That’s offensive.
Nerdia – He’s offensive on so many levels. Who is going to work the hardest?
Coolia – Trichelle.
Britt – Erik.
Coolia – Erik is taking it the most seriously. He’s wearing his uniform properly with shirt tucked in, hat on straight. Tammy is stressed out about waiting tables. Ron is impressed with himself for his cooking.
Christopher - He’s like a fucking walrus! Those big jowls!
Coolia – He’s eating up all the profits!
Vanilla Ice picks up Gary again and says he reminds him of his 6 year old.
Coolia – But he’s not your 6 year old. He’s 35. Ice is a big bully. I’m surprised Traci is actually doing work.
Britt – I think Traci is going to move up in the rankings.
Christopher – It’s unanimous that Gary is being too much of a hard ass.
Gleam effect on Erik's smile causes group laughter.
Coolia – Is it supposed to be a coincidence that Todd Bridges shows up?
Britt – He’s the one that hates his childhood image, but he wants Gary to do “what chu talking ‘bout, Willis?”
Erik points out to Ice that Gary feels the same way about his past as Ice does.
Britt – Yeah, Erik is the man!
However, Ice has a thick head and doesn’t get it. Erik may as well be talking in Spanish.
Britt – I heard Gary was 4’9. He seems shorter than that.
The celebrities are shuttled home in the Surreal Life van. Ron is tuckered out and sleeping.
Britt – He’s in a food coma.
After they get home, they gather in the Surreal Living Room and talk about the ordeal of having to do menial labor. Tammy thinks it's good for the stars to walk a mile in someone else moccasins and is glad for the experience.
Nerdia – Good attitude for Tammy.
Traci appears to be hyper, karate-kicking all her roommates.
Coolia – Traci seems to think she is auditioning for Kill Bill.
Ron and Traci flirt and roll around on the bed. Ron complains about the perils of fighting with girls.
Coolia – Look at that, she’s got her hand on his chest.
The next morning, Erik is up while it’s still dark out.
Coolia – He’s a go getter.
The celebrities are forced into brownie making – the boys pretend to be helpless, feigning ignorance about domestic duties while the girls bake. They take the brownies door-to-door to the neighborhood. The first neighbor invites them in, sees Tammy and asks if he should repent. The he sees Ron and asks if they want to make a movie in there, instead. Ron asks “do you have a nice bedroom?” The second neighbor isn’t so friendly.
Neighbor – “I don’t have any time for celebrities!"
Coolia - That is such an LA response. It reminds me of my coworkers complaining when paparazzi clog the street outside our building because J Lo is visiting her manager. His office is in the same building as my office.
Group expression of horror when Traci declares that if she were not engaged, she would engage in something with her male housemates. Rob is still overreacting to neighbor rejection. Didn’t want to be humiliated. Feels there is too much of a cheese factor involved in Gary Coleman being on the show.
Coolia – The whole show is a cheese factor.
Erik counsels Rob/Ice about the perils of fame and getting over your past.
Coolia - Erik is so wise.
Nerdia – He’s the MC Hammer of Season 2.
One of the girls reminds Ron/Ice that all of the Surreal Life roommates have been on top of the biz at one time or another. Ron Jeremy estimates, “I’ve been on top, bottom, sideways” The room laughs.
Coolia – I’m glad Rob is expressing his feelings better but I can’t sympathize. I can sympathize more with Gary Coleman who isn’t a jerk.
Britt – Right, because he’s like 4 feet tall.
Coolia – And he has a disease.
Nerdia – And he’s a former child star and we know they all have problems. Besides, Rob expects too much from Surreal Life. Basically Vanilla Ice is so stupid he’s falling into the trap he wanted to avoid. By trying to run so far from an asinine image, he comes off like an ass. It’s the David Cassidy principle.
Christopher - The network wants them to look like asses.
The celebs are asked to imitate each other at dinner. They seem to be having fun doing it. Rob and Erik kid each other. Traci gets drunk (we guess) in honor of Trishelle. The room laughs when Surreal Life gives Rob the famous Erik Estrada twinkling smile.
Coolia – That tooth gleam always gets a laugh.
Traci chases Vanilla Ice around the house. He seems to be enjoying it.
Nerdia – Ice has a double standard. Judging Traci earlier (declaring if he were her fiancée, he would dump her) but would probably be happy enough to screw her.
Traci runs around the house looking very manic.
Britt – I wonder if Traci took something – that seems like more than booze.
Coolia - She's just high on Surreal Life.

Ape Culture Weekly Ranking (from least to most annoying)

1/18/04 - Episode 2


  1. Erik - he was really good at the restaurant, seems level-headed
  2. Ron - still funny
  3. Tammy Faye - tries hard, good sport
  4. Trishelle - inoffensive
  5. Traci - liked her more until the drunken episode at the end
  6. Gary - he didn't do anything to make himself look better. They all agreed he was being a bad manager
  7. Rob - waaaay down


  1. Erik - the only who could talk some sense into Rob, and who wore his diner uniform properly
  2. Ron - so funny
  3. Tammy Faye
  4. Traci - no diva behavior this time, more fun
  5. Trishelle
  6. Rob - pathetic, appalling, dreadful and many other Simon Cowell epithets spring to mind


  1. Erik - just a sweetheart, seems most normal
  2. Tammy Faye - coming across as being nice
  3. Ron - a decent soul considering
  4. Trishelle - despite her alcoholism
  5. Traci - falls because of breaking glasses, running around too much
  6. Rob - ass, needs a lot of therapy




  1. Erik - charming, hardworking, heart in the right place, sage words for ice
  2. Ron
  3. Tammy Faye
  4. Traci - I want to see Traci's boobs, too. Maybe she just drank too much because she was supposed to be impersonating Trishelle.
  5. Trishelle
  6. Rob - so angry



  1. Traci - wild woman, even more than Trishelle. the fake boobs are her biggest strike!
  2. Ron - doing a great job in many ways. I hope he nails Traci or Trishelle or both.
  3. Trishelle - I'm still giving her cuteness points and props from last episode
  4. Rob - total psycho, but at least he's interesting. I like how he flirted with Traci. He looked like me in junior high.
  5. Tammy Faye - liked her better last episode. She may be too dull down the stretch.
  6. Erik - nice, normal and boring

Coolia’s Notes

Vanilla Ice's complete detachment from reality - only hinted at when he defaced his portraits in Episode 1 - is exhibited in full force in this Episode. I was horrified to see how he bullied and belittled Gary Coleman, picking him up, trying to get him to say "what you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" to Todd Bridges. It was stunning to see him fail to realize that he was treating Gary just the way he doesn't want the WB to treat him. Then he has the nerve to say he wouldn't have done the show with Hammer because Hammer is too "cheesy." Hello, Rob...I think Hammer had a few more hits than you did, pal. He also looked better in harem pants. More importantly, Hammer became a more fully realized human in the years since he fell from stardom. Rob has yet to self-actualize. It is my hope that the cooler heads of Ron, Tammy Faye, and Erik can help him heal before the season ends - but I wouldn't bet on it. Either that, or maybe the aliens will come take him away.

Nerdia’s Notes

I agree 100% about Vanilla Ice. He came across as a self-absorbed, hypocritical asshole. A has-been who cannot deal and tries to wax poetic about how the evil image-making machine ruined his life. But incredibly as if it has only ever happened to him and nobody else in the whole big wide world. Only Vanilla Ice has been victimized by fame. Only Vanilla Ice has been trapped by an overblown image. What a putz. I miss Corey Feldman sometimes, I really do. Tammy Faye was highly ineffectual as a waitress but at least she tried and copped to her shortcomings. And she verbalized the value of their experience. Traci even did the time with a smile on her face and a sense of fun, as did Trishelle. Traci would have moved up farther in the rankings this week after her dismal showing last week had she not become a blithering drunken idiot after dinner. Ron was funny as usual, level headed and rolled with the setback of not being able to mingle with Mel's Diner customers and show off his waitering flair. No one seems to hold his sleeping-naked walrus-ness against him. Erik, as the rankings show, was flawless in this episode, cleaning toilets with a tooth-sparkling charm. He babysat a customer's kid and counseled two celebrities in crisis. Oh dear, I fear I am falling under his spell!


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


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