I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with the WB/VH1 celeb reality series The Surreal Life. For those not in the know, the series would drop a batch of actors, musicians and sports figures into a house – Real World-style – and follow them around with cameras for a few weeks, capturing every presumably unscripted, tense and cringe-worthy moment for posterity. For six seasons notable personalities such as MC Hammer, Verne Troyer, Jordan Knight, Tammy Faye Baker and Corey Feldman would subject themselves to the angry Roman-like mob sitting in front of their boob tubes at home, opening themselves up not just for plaudits, but more often than not for brickbat bouquets. And I was one of the bloodthirsty members of the mob sitting at home in total judgment of the very people that at one time or another actually entertained me with their creative work versus this unfortunate bit of star navel-gazing that I now partook in. It felt like a betrayal from this onetime movie fan, a genuine affront to some of the actors who at one time or another dared me to dream and it felt icky and wrong and exploitive…yet compulsively watchable. The ratings told the story more than anything else, depressingly allowing the show to carry on long after my jaded conscious got the better of me and I finally tuned out for good.
Proving that the world can collectively never get enough of a really bad traffic accident, it was announced today from our pugnacious pals over at The Hollywood Reporter that The Surreal Life – the series that sent me straight to the Yellow Pages looking for a good therapist – is set to make a return to the Land of the Living.
Joining the revived VH1 Surreal Life will be August Alsina, CJ Perry, Manny MUA, Stormy Daniels, Dennis Rodman, Frankie Muniz, Tamar Braxton and Kim Coles. The new iteration is being described as “reimagined” for a new era.
In a press release announcing the return of The Surreal Life to VH1, Nina L. Diaz – the Big Wheel of Content and Chief Creative Officer at MTV Entertainment Group said that “The Surreal Life is known for bringing together some of the biggest names in pop culture and creating many unforgettable moments in reality television. We are excited to see how this stellar celebrity cast will make captivating television for audiences everywhere.” It’s all about the spin, Ladies and Gents; it’s all about the spin.
The Surreal Life will return to active duty this fall on VH1, as will my compulsory feelings of guilt for even considering watching it.