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Celebrity Zoo: Commentary on
The Surreal Life
, Season 4

Starring: Da Brat, Christopher Knight, Joanie Lauer, Verne Troyer, Jane Wiedlin, Marcus Schenkenberg, Adrianne Curry

Episode 1: Nobody Puts Mini-Me in A Corner, Except Himself
Episode 2: Misadventures in Babysitting
Episode 3: Rancho Kook-a-munga
Episode 4: Pole-dancin' and Brady-romancin'
Episode 5: Pitchers with Self-control Problems
Episode 6: Love Comes Walking In, or Maybe It's Just Ron Jeremy in a Diaper
Episode 7: Joanie Loves Tragedy
Episode 8: An Alan Smithee Production
Episode 9: What is Sally Jesse Doing the Other 364 Days a Year?
Episode 10: Has-Been Seems to be the Hardest Word

Episode 7- 3/06/05


This episode begins yet again with more rehash discussion of the relationship between Christopher and Adrianne. Christopher explains yet again how he doesn't fully trust Adrianne's motives. Thankfully, The Surreal Times arrives on the doorstep before Adrianne has a chance to make a new and embarrassing plea for his everlasting love. The surrealebrities are tasked with making a three-minute kung fu movie, with Jane as the director. Verne is not happy about the task, which leaves his record for The Surreal Life task-disapproval completely unbroken. You will be able to knock me over with a feather the day Verne shows enthusiasm for anything.

A stunt coordinator named Garrett arrives. I like the name Garret, I decide. I have become so bored with this show that I am now starting to study the house decor. Did you notice that there are polka dot walls in almost all the rooms? And that the polka dots are in a slightly different formation, size, and color scheme in each room? I have also become intrigued with the maze patterns of Da Brat's hair. I stare at this maze formation as much as I can.

Jane starts to push her diminutive directorial weight around the house as the group practices for the kung fu filming. Christopher, because he has TV experience, tries to coach Jane, who is a little disorganized and has been exhibiting poor time management skills. Jane tells Christopher she appreciates his help but would he please put a sock in it for five seconds. Christopher takes this criticism surprisingly well, which makes me think he's got good self esteem, which makes me question whether or not he's a bona fide celebrity.

In the middle of rehearsal, Joanie's ex-boyfriend, the one the housemates figure drove her to a suicide attempt as described in the camping episode, wrestler X-Pac, shows up unannounced with flowers. Joanie looks very unhappy about this. Christopher describes the guy as a thug and a meatball.

Joanie and the meatball sit outside for about an hour while Joanie cries, meatball whines, and the housemates go in and out trying to drag Joanie back into rehearsal. They spar with the meatball - Da Brat even threatens the hit the meatball over the head with a wine bottle. The meatball says "I Love You" to Joanie but it sounds fake. Still, Joanie falls under the spell of the meatball and threatens to leave the show. Jane succeeds in tricking Joanie into coming back into the house. Much crying ensues. The girls descend on Joanie for some girl talk intervention and rehabilitation. Joanie says she has never experienced this kind of girl-love before...even from her crazy bimbo friend from the pitch-a-stupid-show episode. Christopher bosses Da Brat into confiscating Joanie's meds for fear she may try to kill herself on the show. You see various cast members locking the windows and putting broom handles over doors.

The Surreal Life is in lock down.

The crying scenes with Joanie and the cast are intense. This all leaves you to wonder who is the jerk-ass The Surreal Life producer who figured toying with the romantic emotions of a fragile, suicidal Joanie would be good fodder for an episode. X-Pac had to know how to get past The Surreal Life security and up to the house. We were often left to wonder if we were witnessing some battered woman syndrome moment or if the rest of the cast mates were making illogical assumptions about Joanie's past. The stunt did create some intense bonding and the cast members proved they cared about Joanie, even though she snores like Sasquatch. Cast members talked about trying to bring Joanie "back into the family" as if they had suddenly become a star cult. It was interesting to see the whole cast cooperating, except I don't remember Verne around anywhere. Did he slip off to bed early again? It was eventually Da Brat's jokes that seemed to let the air out of the drama bag for Joanie. Later, Adrienne tells Joanie "We Love You" and it sounds actually sincere and warm.


Interestingly enough, a friend had just been telling me earlier in the day about the new reality show called Intervention and how intense it was, and I had replied that I preferred my reality to be a little less real, a la The Surreal Life and The Simple Life. So then I'm forced to watch an intervention on The Surreal Life when I just expect to see wacky hijinks having to do with filming a kung fu movie. I'm not too happy about it. Last week, Verne's ex-wife complained to Howard Stern that The Surreal Life producers put alcoholic Verne in jeopardy by giving him lots of free booze and very little to do. I was inclined not to believe her - after all, she married Verne and she's a full size Playmate, which makes me suspect she must be a golddigger. But now I can see the show definitely manufactured pain for Joanie, by introducing X-Pac onto the scene.

I feel sorry for Joanie and unlike Chris and Adrianne I won't make easy statements like "Why does she stay with him if she's not happy?" Some people didn't grow up in a fully functional Brady Bunch home surrounded by love, home cooking by a gal in an actual maid uniform, and the wisdom of a closeted father. This Chyna Doll is chipped, no longer mint in box. Her problems can't be wrapped up neatly in 24 minutes. However, the nurturing of other minor celebrities with uncharmed lives, like Da Brat and Jane, can help Joanie, and it was a bit heartwarming to see the women come together to counsel Joanie. Just a bit.

Coolia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Da Brat - showed kindness to Joanie
  2. Jane - took her directing task seriously, perhaps too seriously
  3. Marcus - no missteps this week as he once again didn't do much
  4. Chris - his patronizing tone toward the women is bugging me
  5. Verne - innocuous
  6. Joanie - I feel sorry for her but wish she had forgotten to pack her bag of pain for this trip
  7. Adrianne - her efforts to save Joanie were childish and showed she has little experience with hard times and not much sympathy

Nerdia’s weekly rankings:

  1. Jane: although annoying as a director, completely effectual as a celebrity-tricker and bonafide sister-who's-got-your-back.
  2. Da Brat: for using humor to pull Joanie off the ledge and for keeping me interested in the show with her intricate hair do.
  3. Adrianne: ready with the love and concern.
  4. Christopher: a little too bossy this week. Would make a good jail warden with all his confiscation maneuvers.
  5. Joanie: this is a pity ranking.
  6. Marcus: You are only above Verne because I remember catching sight of you during the Joanie-rescue-mission.
  7. Verne: Were you even in this episode?
  8. The meatball: God's punishment to women

Your thoughts?

Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 1
Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 2
Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 3


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