(U-WIRE) ARLINGTON, Texas – In the fall of 1990, the brave television executives at ABC debuted “Cop Rock,” a musical police drama done in an opera-like format where characters sang rather than talked to each other. For some unknown reason, the concept of caroling cops and criminals didn’t catch on. The show quickly incurred wrath among television critics and was dubbed the worst television show ever to pollute the airwaves.
“Cop Rock” strongly held that title until Aug. 4, the day the reality sitcom “The Anna Nicole Show” premiered on the E! Entertainment Television Network. In one night, the show replaced “Cop Rock.” Many critics now consider Anna’s show the most painful boil on the butt of television history.
For those unfamiliar with “The Anna Nicole Show,” its basic premise is to follow the former Playboy Playmate/current oil-billionaire widow around with cameras. While filmed, she stumbles through her daily life in what seems to be a pharmaceutically induced stupor wearing entirely too-tight jeans and way too much makeup.
On some small level, E! TV’s exploitation of Anna Nicole pains me. At the height of her popularity, she was a bona fide celebrity and had a serious fan following. Most adolescent heterosexual males at the time probably believed that having impure thoughts about Anna Nicole was a prerequisite for entering manhood. Her 1993 Playboy “Playmate of the Year” photo spread could best be described as “optical Viagra.” But, unfortunately for Anna Nicole, that was about 10 years and 120 pounds ago. Those who’ve seen any part of the first four episodes quickly learn that there is a fine line between celebrity and sideshow circus freak.
It is apparent that she still has the same beautiful face but has gone from being a Playboy diva to a shallow, self-absorbed oblivious individual who probably thinks a “suicide bomber” is that new drink served down on Hollywood Boulevard.
To be perfectly fair, Anna Nicole is not committing this crime against television by herself. Her accomplices on the show include people with personality quirks so profound they are worthy enough to be “Seinfeld” secondary characters. Leading the way of her supporting cast of crazies is her overtly “flamboyant” interior designer, Bobby Trendy, who, if he were a character creation instead of a real person, would cause the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to start an uprising that would make the 1992 Los Angeles riots look like a letter-writing campaign. Coming in a close second is Anna Nicole’s sycophant of a lawyer and best friend Howard K. Stern, who would submit to having his testicles removed and surgically attached to his earlobes if Anna Nicole wanted him to.
Rounding out this trio of Anna’s second fiddles is her purple-haired, vapid personal assistant, Kim Walther. Her language includes so many profane words in need of bleeping that it sounds like she’s speaking in Morse code. Also included in the cast is Anna’s 16-year-old son Daniel – the Marilyn Munster of the show – who answers every question with “I’m going to my room.” He will undoubtedly one day make some psychiatrist very, very wealthy.
Despite the fact that I take every opportunity to denigrate “The Anna Nicole Show,” I must confess to liking it. Once one gets past the show’s total lack of substance, coherent thought and any semblance of redeemable social value, and once a person gets over the irony of Anna Nicole Smith having her own reality show – because “reality” is a concept more alien to her than a Vulcan mind-meld – the viewer might see a show that represents America truly as the land of opportunity.
“The Anna Nicole Show” provides voyeuristic proof that in this nation, a person doesn’t have to say or do anything of real consequence or even be able to complete a rational sentence.
No, to be famous in this country, all someone needs is a great set of “tah-tahs” and enough foresight to marry a billionaire 14 months before he dies.
God Bless America.