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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 6: Talk Show Trauma and Farewell Food Fight


Ron, clad only in a towel, imitates Rockefeller Center fountain and elicits laughter from Traci. 
Nerdia: That's really stupid. I'm reconsidering all my comments about how multi-talented Ron is. Now I'm thinking he has too much time on his hands. 

Then Ron's turtle poops. Traci asks, "how could something so big come out of such a little ass?"

Usually with Ron, it's the opposite question - how could something so big go into such a little ass?
Rob rails on Traci in the "dirty laundry" confessional. Traci hears every word of it through Glen Campbell's shabbily constructed walls. Traci confronts Rob. Rob defends himself by pointing out that Traci threatened to barbecue his daughter.

He's trying to cover up.
  He's really overreacting to that stupid drunken comment Traci made about cooking his daughter.
  If he's going to say stuff like that he should have the balls to not backslide.Rob apologizes. He and Traci reconcile and hug.
Wow, blow me over with a feather. I did not see that coming.
Nerdia: I didn't see that coming either. Good for him. They were both being idiots. Nothing he said about her was untrue. He should just apologize for confronting her with a truth she can't handle. But not put it that way. Because that will just rub her nose in what she can't handle which will just piss her off again. He should just laugh it off and curse Glen Campbell's cheap shabbily constructed walls.
Preview before commercial foreshadows the coming of Sally Jesse Raphael.
These episodes have been going too well. They probably brought Sally in to stir it up.
Celebs go shopping on Melrose. They are forced to buy gifts for each other.  Tammy says she will look like a tramp and love it. Ron declares he hates shopping
Coolia & Nerdia: That's because he hates spending money.
We know that from the Porn Star documentary.
Celebs return home and see the Sally Jesse talk show set up and a live studio audience in their living room. They are apprehensive. 

Sally looks terrrible. 
Christopher: The earrings...everything.
Sally introduces the celebs to the audience and mentions that Tammy was an icon in the religious entertainment field.

Religious entertainment?
  Can you major in religious entertainment if you go to Oral Roberts University?Sally lashes out at Tammy for lowering herself to fraternize with a porn star.  Tammy defends Ron and calls him one of the neatest people she has ever met.
  Good for Tammy!  She won't judge Ron.
Nerdia:  This audience is bad.
Sally next trashes Traci.  Erik says Traci is Jekyll and Hyde. Sally says Traci needs to integrate her Jekyll and Hyde sides.

  What does that mean?
  She has to act crazy during the day, too?
Under questioning from Sally, Rob says he is not a ticking time bomb. He then throws a fake tantrum to amuse the audience. Sally looks serious.

Sally, just relax.
Sally is coming off bad.
I imagine they told her to act that way - like a crazy person.
Tammy cries about Rob not being able to accept his old image.
Coolia: She is crying for no reason.Sally attacks Trishelle and calls her an alcoholic slut. Tammy defends Trishelle and cries some more.
Tammy is like the anti-Sally.
Nerdia: She's like their Den Mother.
Trishelle storms off, causing an abrupt end to the Sally show.

We'll never get to see it now, but I wonder what Sally would have said about Eric.
Trishelle packs her bag, declaring she is leaving the show. Ron tries to talk her out of it and says, "Will you at least stay for Turtle?"  Trishelle calls Sally a stupid, ugly, old bitch
Coolia: If Trishelle leaves, Sally wins.
The whole cast tries to talk Trishelle out of leaving.  Tammy tells Trishelle she is coming off well. Trishelle laments that the show will only portray her as an alcoholic slut. 

Why do you think you're on this show if not to get drunk?
Nerdia: I don't see Sally as a truthful journalist. Basically she was singling Trishelle out for being flirty when Ron is a major man-ho. Ron laughed it off "everyone knows I'm a slut"...but that's the problem: it's funny for guys to be sluts and for girls it's a serious issue. Besides, her problem isn't sluttiness, it's the collage of drinking clips. Trishelle calls her ex who says, "What could Sally Jesse Raphael possibly say to hurt your feelings?"  Trishelle stumbles over her words and says she's not stupid.
I'm not stupid, but I can't finish this sentence. She's been there 10 days. They make it sound like fuckin' 3 months.
Trishelle decides to stay because of Erik's pep talk. Ron gives her a head massage. Tammy and the cast embrace Trishelle.
Nerdia: She's a reality show veteran.  Why is she being such a baby? I'm glad Erik was instrumental in this pep talk. I was bothered that he didn't stand up for anyone on the fake Stupid Ugly Old Bitch show. Tammy stood up for everyone. And cried, too
Britt: I never thought TV would be eye-opening for me, but Tammy has really opened my eyes.
Nerdia: They should kick Sally out de house.
The celebs gather for their last formal dinner.

Tammy's got crazy coiffed hair.
Celebs say grace. Rob doesn't want to hold hands but Trishelle gets him to do it. Celebs exchange gifts.

Aww, they really like each other.
Traci starts crying while giving testimonials to her roommates. Traci declares, "For the record, Ron has not touched me in a way I could not handle."
Britt: What possible way couldn't you handle, Traci?
Tammy says Ron is one of the neatest people she ever met. Tammy starts crying. Tears cascade down Traci's face.

Now I'm gonna cry.
Ron tells Erik he has been a role model for him and symbolizes what he wants to be when his personality becomes fully acutallized. Rob cries! Erik cries! Nerdia cries! Celebs sing their "Be Yourself" song to sum up their experience.  

It always gets me when macho men start to cry.
The girls get drunk. Tracy smashes cake in Ron's face. A cake fight ensues with Ron and Rob chasing the girls around the house. Rob slips on cake and falls.  The next morning, Erik lament about the thoughtlessness of the more alchoholic celebs trashing Glen Campbell's house, saying "If my kids did this to my house...". Erik smbolizes the Father Figure of this group of celebs. This disrespectful episode probably lead to Glen being pissed off when he got home and his subsequent drunken rage arrest recently. Celebs pack their bags.

Look, Ron brought his porn award, just like Emmanuel Lewis brought his People's Choice award last year.
It's the last day and Tammy is making her bed.
That's the kind of person she is.
Erik looks at his watch. 

He really wants to get out of there.
Ron says he will show Traci his cock at last. Traci turns away and professes she doesn't want to see it. Ron reaches into his pants and pulls out a little stuffed rooster. Erik doesn't crack a smile and says, "Not a lot of people could handle this [experience].  A lot of people would snap."

Most of them did snap at one point or other.As celebs begin to depart, Traci and Trishelle share a big hug.
It seems like they really became friends.
Tammy says, "As each person leaves, there's a big void in your heart."  Trishelle vows never to do reality TV again.

Trishelle, that vow sure was short-lived. You're on The Road Rules/Real World Challenge now!
Ron tells Tammy she's a living doll.

Are they sending them home in the order they came?
Ron is the last to leave. He laments that people always promise to stay in touch but they never do. That's probably because they don't have living scrolls of an address book like he has. He tells his limo driver this is the longest he's gone without having sex.

Ape Culture Weekly Ranking (from least to most annoying)

2/22/04 - Episode 6


  1. Tammy - for standing up for everyone like a mother lion
  2. Rob – for apologizing
  3. Ron – continues to be funny but didn’t give any tributes, only received. did he learn anything for this experience? we'll never know until Porn Star II comes out.
  4. Erik – showed consideration for people outside the house over the drunken cake mess
  5. Traci – her call to the boyfriend was annoying
  6. Trishelle – if she’s gonna be an alcoholic, she’s gonna need a tougher skin


  1. Tammy - the greatest revelation not found in the Book of Revelations!
  2. Rob - for melting the ice and opening up to Erik and Traci
  3. Ron - for getting Trishelle to stay and for the stuffed rooster/cock joke
  4. Trishelle - for standing up for herself and pointing out what we all know - Sally Jesse Raphael is a stupid, ugly, old bitch
  5. Traci - she's basically annoying and should have been put under the same scrutiny as Trishelle - or worse since she is older and engaged
  6. Erik - duller than most stakeouts



  1. Tammy
  2. Rob - for the apology to Traci and his moment with Erik
  3. Traci - for standing up for herself against Rob
  4. Trishelle - She went through a lot.
  5. Ron - He didn't do much on this episode.
  6. Erik - He's a dud.



  1. Tammy
  2. Traci - for standing up for herself against Rob and then accepting his apology
  3. Rob - for apologizing
  4. Erik
  5. Ron
  6. Trishelle - living in denial


Chad's Angry Rankings

  1. Tammy Faye - Showed remarkable understanding and compassion coming to her house mates rescue. Tammy's got your back!
  2. Rob - Able to quickly self-assess his superiority complex and apologize afterwards
  3. Trishelle - Just let the girl be young and sexy. Is that too much to ask?
  4. Ron - Can be a bit of a whiny baby at times (shopping, talk show and cake smashing)
  5. Traci - What a fa sod. I sure hope St. Traci (the Baywatch girl who's posed for Playboy) doesn't embarrass her fiancée's family with her Surreal Life performance.
  6. Eric - A couple crying moments...that's all I have.
  7. Sally Jesse Raphaël - Her treatment of Trishelle was appalling. The Sally boycott begins.

Coolia’s Notes

Well, I am really sorry to see the season end. I think this season was even better than last season. The big surprise, I think, for all of us is how well Tammy Faye came off. She scored the number one ranking in all of our lists this week, and many other weeks too. I never suspected to like her for anything other than kitsch value, but she proved herself to be much less preachy than MC Hammer and very open minded, except to nudists. After becoming sympathetic to Ron Jeremy via the Porn Star documentary, I was pleased to see him get a prime time showcase on a channel other than Playboy. I don't know if this show will help him to develop his career in a mainstream direction - Surreal Life 1 sure didn't help Corey Feldman and Emmanuel Lewis kickstart their careers. Even though Ron often appeared glazed over and out of it and never really shared any pain with his housemates, he came off as a lovable, funny, hairy porn thing. Rob and Traci managed to redeem themselves after miserable starts in the first couple of episodes. I still have some doubts about Traci and wonder if her marriage to that staid rich fella actually happened or will happen after he sees these episodes. How many times did she kiss Ron anyway? I liked Trishelle on Real World Las Vegas and I still like her. So she got drunk 3 nights out of 10 - big deal. I'd probably do the same thing if I was trapped in Glen Campbell's house with a bottomless liquor cabinet and nothing else to do but play backgammon with Erik Estrada. Yes, there are warning signs, but I wouldn't pronounce her an alcoholic yet - just a girl who likes to party. Without Trishelle, the show certainly wouldn't have been as much fun. While not particularly interesting, Erik Estrada gave the house a calm center that it desperately needed. Attention, WB: Here are my suggestions for Season 3 cast: Gene Simmons, Simon Le Bon, Tawny Kittaen, Dustin Diamond, Eve Plumb, and Nikki McKibben.

Nerdia’s Notes

I too am sorry to see this season end. I was surprised at how emotional I got when Vanilla Ice was telling Erik Estrada what his example meant to him. As I said before, I love to see celebrity bonding under adverse circumstances. In this case, I think it underscores that maybe there were scenes of Erik Estrada that were important to the other characters but possibly got cut from the show or just didn't make for exciting WB Network TV. If Rob Van Winkle credits Erik Estrada for his phenomenally dramatic turnaround, (which amazed us all, by the way), then maybe we should give Erik some props. He may not always be "on" for the TV cameras, but it was he who was credited at the end of the day by Rob and for talking Trishelle into staying when none of the other celebs could do it. She was emphatic: once she makes up her mind to do something, she doesn't turn back. And possibly no one but God or Erik Estrada could have changed her mind. If Rob Van Winkle had a problem dealing with his past-star-life image, then Erik was just the man to talk him down from the cliff of self-destruction. Rob, in rankings, wins for "most improved" behavior. You got the impression he learned something from the experience. Traci says she learned something, but we never saw any official evidence of that. Ron seemed irreversibly jaded, at the end of the day and Trishelle left the show pretty much the same lush she came on as. Our group had heated discussions about whether or not Trishelle had a drinking problem or not. Some questioned other's assertions about Trishelle being a drunk after seeing her for only ten days. But that's how many days we witnessed Rob before calling him a hothead. And that's how many days we witnessed Traci before calling her a flake and a hypocrite. So I stand by my interpretation. And what can I say about Tammy Faye. We all agreed we misjudged this one before seeing her on the show. And we all became fans, topping off the season by watching the eye-opening documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Like Coolia above, I fantasized about my own Surreal Life cast, but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about dead people. So here is my wish list for a new show I'd call The Surreal Afterlife: Sammy Davis Jr. Judy Garland, Strom Thurmond, Tiny Tim, Jason Robards, and Nancy Spungen. Hilarity ensues when the Surreal Afterlife bunch visit the shooting range, followed by a trip to see The Producers on Broadway!

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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