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Celebrity Zoo: Commentary on
The Surreal Life
, Season 3

Starring: Brigitte Nielsen; Flavor Flav; Ryan Starr; Dave Coulier; Jordan Knight; and Charo

Episode 1: Who in This House Has a Real Name?
Episode 2: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name; And If It Could, You Wouldn't Be Able to Understand It
Episode 3: And the Band Played Ball of Confusion
Episode 4: Quiet, Please...There's a Shih Tzu on Stage
Episode 5: Surf's Up, But Flav is Down
Episode 6: Discordant Recording Session
Episode 7: Discordant Recording Session - The Denouement
Episodes 8-10: The Final Episodes

The last three episodes of Surreal Life 3: Nerdia's Notes

Due to national events, the world series, traveling for a week of St. Lou Haiku promotion, computer problems, and a bit of laziness…we are posting the last three Surreal Life episode reviews in one lump. And since no one has complained, we can only assume that a) no one is reading these diatribes or b) our explications of celebrity surreal lives are just not as time sensitive as we sometimes might assume.

But for the sake of completion and neatness, we press on. Soon we will commence debating as to whether or not to cover next season’s shenanigans, which promises more pointless fabricated mayhem from the combination of Brady Bunch’s Christopher Knight, DaBrat, Jane Wiedlin and Mini-Me, among other reality show flash-in-the-pans.

Episode 8 - 10/27/04: White Men Can Jump

A few years ago, MTV ran a reality-challenge show called Fear, the premise of which the show would send a handful of 18-25 year olds into some abandoned hospital, factory, or prison after pumping them with horror stories about ghosts living therein. They would be sent on investigative missions/dares over a period of two creepy nights while paranormal events or crew-induced gags ensued. They put themselves through lots of psychic stress for a lousy three thousand dollars, which they would earn if they could “make it through the night.” Those episodes were scary, however, whether you believed in spooks or not. It wasn’t until late in the show’s run where any of the girls actually made it past the first night. Whether or not Suzie Jenkins was simply a victim of the power of suggestion, she got the bejeebies scared out of her; and it was always unsettling to watch (and root for one of your sisters to stick it out) as both the girls and the Joe Bobs screamed like banshees slipping into the tar pit of hell.

Now wouldn’t that be funny with celebrities? Hell yeah! Who is the genius who thought this up?

Dave was the first to be sent on a mission in an abandoned hospital - and the only one forced to go in by himself. He was a trouper, although he did get unnerved in the morgue. He claimed someone (or something!) moved his chair and that he could hear footsteps following him along his return to the Celebirty Safety Zone (kind of like the green room at an awards show). The girls started off in a fem-huddle with Ryan whimpering “hold me” and Charo complimenting Dave: “He so brave!”

Jordan was assigned to go into the scary wilderness with Ryan but Ryan steadfastly refused to partake in any of the challenges. She’s pretty much proven to be whiney dead weight on this show (“I’m really scared and it’s not funny anymore!”) and nothing has changed. Granted, Jordan would most likely push you to the wolves if it came down to it…I can’t see him valiantly saving Ryan’s life in the event of a ghost-to-celebrity showdown, although many New Kids on the Block fans undoubtedly fantasized about exactly this scenario many years ago.

A reconfigured team of Charo and Jordan (who admitted he was “scared as heck”) was assembled for the next task. The two of them traveled to the elevator shaft and electroshock therapy rooms, a trip punctuated by Charo’s frantic “Mama-mias!” When Charo was nervous, she chewed the tips of her hair. Whatever you gotta do, sweetie. You get points for pushing your fear-barrier in my book.

Brigitte and Flav were assigned some cheesy oujii board task in what looked like a file room. Flav was pretty cool and unemotional throughout the night, but the sound of a mysterious door slamming sent Brigitte into hysterics.

They all maintained that the trauma of the episode brought them closer together; and even Dave, Mr. Adult, was adamant about his desire to leave the compound ASAP.

This show reminded me that bravery is very sexy in a guy – especially if punctuated with admitted fear. And I would say the same applies for girls. Being an hysterical mess is not attractive, girls – the whole helpless female thing has got to go. Being afraid is okay. Walking into the haunted abyss of the insane asylum while clutching the arm of a brave but also terrified man is okay, too (see Charo and Jordan). Being a wuss unchecked is just not. Ryan, go home!

Nerdia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Dave – for being a brave wuss
  2. Charo – for being a wuss with a coping mechanism
  3. Jordan –inoffensively wussy
  4. Flavor Flav – for not being a wuss (fearlessness can be stupid)
  5. Brigitte – where’s the famous Brigitte backbone?
  6. Ryan – wussy beyond belief

Coolia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Dave – for going alone and first.
  2. Charo – for overcoming innate Latina belief/fear of ghosts.
  3. Brigitte – comforted Ryan.
  4. Jordan – participated.
  5. Flavor Flav – (like Ryan Starr) I just don’t like him.
  6. Ryan – coward of the county.

Episode 9 - 10/31/04: Dog in Peril

Last season ended on a sour note due to dirty laundry being aired in a dorky simulated Sally Jesse Raphael Show. This season attempted to end the same depressing way: with a disheveled Raphael egging on the celebrities in her role as has-been talk-show host who has sold her soul to the surreal devil who created this show. No one was excited about participating but Flavor Flav. He’s up for anything that might raise his profile. Talk show dramatics occurred, mostly surrounding Ryan’s seething dislike of Flavor Flav which I feel has always been racially motivated. The other cast members are often annoyed by Flav, but recognize his good heart. Ryan seems to be repulsed by him physically and called him “gross,” saying it felt good to say that on camera. Brigette responded with the comment “Ryan is young” as if Ryan would someday grow out of racism. Flav was rightly defensive and declared, “she’s not even a star yet!”

Flav unfortunately lost many many points due to the disturbing video footage of him bitch-slapping the house puppy for pooping inside the house. It went beyond the smack on the nose for bad behavior. It was abusive and therefore everyone in the audience and the house was horrified. Flav repented but it felt a little too much like damage-control PR. His remorse was just too sudden and lacked the soul-searching time-lapse required of a sincere repentance.

Jordan again complained about having been conned into the show by his manager, but admitted he was glad he participated as the experience had got him “out of his comfort zone.” He must be talking in baby steps because I haven’t noticed any growth from him in that area. If we had seen him take down his bedroom door fortress of empty boxes or something. We did not.

Nerdia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Dave,
  2. Charo,
  3. & Brigitte – I don’t remember much about them in this episode, which means they must have said little of substance or ignorance.
  4. Jordan – I don’t buy his whole assertion of growth.
  5. Ryan – For all the season’s Flavor Flav-hatin’.
  6. Flavor Flav – Dog abuse makes Bob Barker cry.

Coolia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Dave – stable.
  2. Brigitte – didn’t stand out, but didn’t annoy.
  3. Charo – see above.
  4. Ryan – perhaps too hard on Flav but at least honest.
  5. Jordan – delusional – he hasn’t gotten to know anyone nor opened up.
  6. Flavor Flav – dangerous to himself and small creatures.

Episode 10 - 11/7/04: Alas, We Must Now Say Adieu

Charo tries to stage reconciliation between Flav and Ryan, but neither will have any of it. The girls bond with pillow fighting. We see Brigitte’s exposed butt one final time and get nostalgic for her early season nudity. The final dinner is disrupted when Flavor Flav (who is angry at Ryan) acts out, loudly eating and spontaneously calling out FLAVOR FLAV that very special way that he does. Everyone is distraught and annoyed. Ryan plays right into Flavor’s hands, however, folding her arms and throwing him dirty looks, things I used to do when my older brothers would pull my hair and torment my stuffed animals.

Flavor Flav continues acting out in the pool and Brigitte threatens him with the withholding of her love: “You speak to me that way again and it’s over.” Jordan sneaks out in the middle of the night (but the experience has changed him, truly; and he has found “a deeper connection among human beings,” he swears). Flav is the only one who gets up to give him a heart-felt farewell. Flav is consistently there to give everyone a heart-felt farewell it would seem. Just like Cher’s Farewell Tour, his pot of goodbyes seems to be endless; and everyone, except Ryan, agrees that he is full of much love for all (except puppies). They all agree it was an incredible experience (which most likely is what made it such bad TV). Even Ryan and Brigitte have connected and Ryan shockingly says she will “keep in touch” with Flavor Flav! She admits these folks were not such the has-beens as she figured they all would be. Too bad she will soon be so much more of a has-been (or never-was) than any of them are now or will ever be. Isn’t that ironic? Dontcha think? Brigitte declares she adores all of them and wishes they all could have had another week to spend together.

Speaking for myself, I’m exhausted with Surreal Life and wish to stop contemplating reality show skirmishes for the time being.

Nerdia’s final rankings:

  1. Brigitte – least expected to amount to anything; most improved.
  2. Dave – most normal celebrity as yet seen on this show.
  3. Charo – don’t know what to make of her.
  4. Jordan – legend in his own mind; in nobody else’s.
  5. Flavor Flav – good heart, for the most part; but abuses puppies.
  6. Ryan – abuses the puppy within my soul.

Coolia’s final rankings:

  1. Brigitte –big surprise, brave, fun, interesting.
  2. Dave – calm center of the show; but could have been funnier.
  3. Charo – I wish she had stopped coochie-cooching and started getting real.
  4. Jordan – boring, arrogant, puffy, delusional.
  5. Flavor Flav – irritating as hell, puppy abuser.
  6. Ryan – didn’t play along, didn’t grow, didn’t have a single positive moment.

Final thoughts?

Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 1
Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 2


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