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Celebrity Zoo:
A Review of The Surreal Life

Starring: MC Hammer, Emmanuel Lewis, Brande Roderick,
Corey Feldman, Gabrielle Carteris, Vince Neil, & Jerri Manthey

Because the show The Surreal Life (airing Thursdays on the WB) sparked such a animated dialogue between the editors, Ape Culture has decided to do a weekly commentary.

Week Seven: Corey's Wedding (2/20/03)
Week Six: Celebrity Balls (2/13/03)
Week Five: Whose Date Is It Anyway? (2/7/03)
Week Four: Debauchery/Repentance (1/30/03)
Week Three: The Celebrity Gong Show (1/23/03)
Week Two: Celebrities in the Wild (1/16/03)
Week One: Celebrity Zoo Debut (1/9/03)

Week Seven: Corey's Wedding (2/20/03)

Coolia:Uh-oh, Corey calling in a house meeting. The housemates are filled with trepidation and annoyance.
Nerdia: He must think he's in an episode of 90210. Doesn't he realize yet his monologues are futile?
Coolia: Corey is sensitive. who knew! Muppet news flash!
Nerdia: He just wants everyone to be happy. Look! Even the dog is listening!
Coolia: Corey is crying...again. Even Brande's dog is annoyed by him.
Coolia: Brande asks Corey, "do you want us to help you pack?" I don't think she meant that to sound bitchy, but it did. It broke the tension. Group hug!
Nerdia: Poor Vince. He doesn't look like he wants a group hug.
Coolia: This wedding is a big production. I wonder if the tv show paid the bill? We know corey has no money due to his parents stealing it all from him.
Nerdia: I think Corey let everyone know (on a show prior) that he never would have been able to afford such a luxurious wedding sans the cash cow that is Surreal Life. The daily house magazine reads "The House Braces For Corey's Wedding"
Coolia: I'd like to write for that rag.
Nerdia: It would have to be a temp job. It looks like they have to move Glen's glass tile pool chairs. I like those chairs. We have lots of memories via camera shots of those chairs. Gabrielle is complaining that she doesn't know anybody. News flash: It's not your wedding. Was that Leif Garrett who just walked in?
Coolia: Vince's girlfriend flew in for the wedding. Suzi's mom is creepy looking. She reveals that corey was suzi's teen idol! that's creepy too. can we trust our judgments at age 10 or 12? if so I would be married to Limahl or Simon Le Bon.
Nerdia: I have to agree. I would be married to Paul Sand if that were the case. Because I doubt I would have gotten anywhere with Barry Manilow. I think Corey is trying to out-dress the bride.
Coolia: Corey has a wedding stylist. He looks ridiculous in that outfit, but he could always get a job giving tours in historic Philadelphia.
Nerdia: As the son of Ben Franklin. I hope that wacky Rabbi with his religious/office-speak has some tips for me before I go into my next business meeting. Here comes the Hef-mobile.
Coolia: Hugh and the playmates arrive. Big hug from brande.
Nerdia: Does Hugh ever sleep with redheads or brunettes or does he require all his housemates to dye their hair blonde because the memories of Barbie Benton are too painful?
Coolia: "Too much celebrity and too much pop culture can sometimes get in the way of living a real life" - wise words from hef.  My addiction to trashy reality shows like this one does get in the way of my having a real life.
Nerdia: Hugh is a TV show ho. He must be contractually obligated to appear in any TV show or documentary in which a former playmate is mentioned or featured. He's always saying meaningless blurbs like that...which sound profound for a nanosecond until you realize he's not really saying anything at all. 
Coolia: Pep talk from the guys. Hammer feels corey has matured.
Nerdia: Vince's advice is good...I wonder if he follows it. Hammer's was nice but Webster's sounded canned. Male group hug.
Coolia: Corey is crying again, as suzi comes up the aisle.
Nerdia: Are those real tears...I don't see any water. I think he's faking it. He says, "Nobody didn't come who I wanted to see." Does that mean if they didn't come, he didn't want to see them anyway? What a cute little ring bearer. A temperamental redhead already.
Coolia: Corey's vows have impact. Vince's girlfriend is crying. Hef's helmethead playmate is crying. Probably cuz their men won't marry them. Even jerri is crying! Despite all her corey teasing in the past.
Nerdia: Did Suzi just say Corey was nurturing? Has she been watching the show? Hugh's girlfriend looks sad but jaded. Vince wears interesting jewelry. Hammer's rib excerpt is sexist. The dog is interrupting the ceremony with his commentary: "This is crap!"
Coolia: Vince reprises "the surreal life blues," but this time the lyrics don't make much sense.
Nerdia: Gabrielle is so white dancing to Vince's blues.
Coolia: "Nothing but love" says corey, and they all do seem to have a good time together. Corey is the first to leave. Now they can all talk about him.
Nerdia: No one saw them to the door. They all give a tight smiled "it was fun". Corey and Suzi leave to start their honeymoon in Reality.
Coolia: They're all sad to be having their last supper together and vowing to keep in touch. I have my doubts.
Nerdia: I would watch a reunion show in 7 years.
Coolia: Gab is up first. She has to leave early to get home before her kids wake up for school. Why this is so urgent today as opposed to the two weeks she hasn't been home, I'm not sure. Vince looks cute with his tousled just got out of bed hair. He and gab have a tender moment. Gab is crying as she goes.
Nerdia: Gab and Vince bonded. 
Coolia: Jerri just declared her love for manny. I think he has a crush on her.
Nerdia: Jerri loves Manny! Jerri loves Manny! Jerri expressed relief that this show allowed her to be "the kind, nice, generous person" she really is.
Coolia: Brande's dog can't wait to get out of there. Vince thinks its toughest for him because he was the last person in the house and he had to say goodbye to everyone. I'm not sure i understand that logic. Didn't everyone say goodbye to everyone?
Nerdia: I don't understand it either. He had to witness all the goodbye-ing but only had to officially say his goodbyes once like everybody else. When Vince leaves...who will feed the fish?
Coolia: "We came here as strangers and we really left as friends" - says Vince, voicing the dream of the show's creators. This "friends" imitation ending is cute. appropriately cheesy.
Nerdia: It's hokey and dumb. They probably all want to string Corey up on the fountain. I didn't appreciate seeing Vince dancing like a NBC starlet. How can he muster any dignity for evil rock shows now? He'll need to make another porno tape just to get his image of dastardliness back.

Ape Culture Weekly Ranking (from least to most annoying)


Nerdia Coolia
  1. Jerri Manthey
  2. MC Hammer
  3. Vince Neil
  4. Brande Roderick
  5. Emmanuel Lewis
  6. Gabrielle Carteris
  7. Corey Feldman
  1. Vince Neil
  2. Jerri Manthey
  3. Brande Roderick
  4. Emmanuel Lewis
  5. MC Hammer
  6. Gabrielle Carteris
  7. Corey Feldman

Nerdia’s Notes

It's a hazard of this job that, because Coolia and I lost our initial chat on this week's episode, we had to watch it twice, Coolia three times. Reality is so dull the first time. I feel I deserve hazard pay this week. When I chose my rankings for this last episode, I decided to consider the whole season and Jerri surprised me the most with her sense of humor, her sureness and her not-so-bitchiness. Did she learn valuable lessons from her Survivor experience or was she wrongfully misedited. For the viewers sake, I hope she had a post-Survivor epiphany but I doubt it. Most likely, Survivor's reality was nothing but another edited fiction like all other reality shows. Which makes the whole exercise of reality watching as pointless and manipulative as a rigged game show. I was not a fan of MC Hammer's before this show and was expecting some kind of hyper-spaz popster who couldn't get over his WhereIsHeNow-ness. My college boyfriend and I used to have big agreements about his dancing talent...which he scaled to brilliant and I scaled down at low-to-none. But from the first episode, his simple profundities won me over. Here is a celebrity with a life, a much more rounded character than what we found on even his old Behind the Music episode. Vince fared well for me, too, with his reality checks and mild-mannered-ness. He has an appealing Eyeore quality. Brande is also very likeable, not as a best friend, but like a cousin. Manny's likeability went up and down. I don't feel like he ever let his guard down. Gabrielle, I didn't like so well. For most episodes she seemed full of herself. She had little patience for Corey (and his perpetual puberty) which means when her own kids hit puberty, she will be in some kind of Corey-Hell. I'd like to see that show. And then there's Corey himself. Well, haven't we already said so much? Corey's laser like focus on himself throughout his own wedding was par for the course: Corey: "Everyone was there for me" and ten other comments to that effect. He may as well have been marrying himself. He loved the attention. Suzi was just a prop. He seemed to feel this was his shining moment and everyone was there for him. Which means he didn't really get married in any real sense. "Nothing but love" and a bunch of cameras to make people be nice to you, Corey. Hammer called the whole show "a meaningful experience"...which is why it probably made such boring television. Life or television. Pick one.

Coolia’s Notes

Although Corey showed courage in reconciling with his roommates this week and declared true love for Suzi in a seemingly genuine way, I am still finding him annoying. However, I don't think the show would have been interesting at all without him. He provided all the conflict and excitement. The rest of the celebs seemed content to hang out and have fun. They didn't really stretch themselves emotionally, except for Vince who had to talk about his daughter dying of cancer and endure being slain in the spirit courtesy of Hammer. But that was all engineered by the producers. I doubt Vince would have brought it up on his own. We emerge from the show not knowing anything about Manny, Jerri, or Gab. What is Manny doing for a living these days? Does Jerri have a boyfriend? How old are Gab's kids? These three kept a really low profile. I don't think The Surreal Life achieved The Real World's goal of "getting real." These celebs played it pretty close to the vest. More emphasis was put on bizarre and potentially humiliating chores such as delivering brownies to the neighbors and throwing a talent show than on deep conversations. Nobody hooked up. So, without the fights that Corey inspired, the show would have been very dull indeed, and it seems right that the final episode was all about him. His TV wedding, though more tender and genuine than I expected it to be, still conjures up the ghost of Tiny Tim. Hammer counseled Corey around the campfire to stop complaining and get a life, and it remains to be seen if he can use this wedding and the fame/infamy from this reality show to make something of himself.

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


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