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The Cody Blog: How HBO's Series Make Me Question My Own Reality

Monday, July 11, 2005

How HBO's Series Make Me Question My Own Reality

So I watched a lot of HBO this weekend. Friday night in particular, I drank some beer and watched a couple hours of their new shows on video on demand.

My favorite new show on there is "Entourage". The protagonist is Vince, who's becoming an A-list multimillionaire movie star. I love this charater and how he's got this vision for his career and, though he comes across sorta aloof -- he's totally a cutthroat business man. As an aside, the show is killing itself by making Vince's brother totally cardboard. I mean, okay already, we get it -- he's a loser who had a run in the sun and now lives off his brother. We don't need it drilled into our heads 17 times an episode.

Anyway, in all these episodes Vince keeps running into Hollywood stars like Jamie Presley (do we call her a "star"?) who play themselves. Bob Sagat was on one of the shows and he played himself as a hooker-happy pot head. I'm sure we're supposed to understand that Bob's not really the guy he played as himself in the show. So he wasn't really playing himself but he was. I think. I guess. Maybe?

Also, that guy playing the cardboard brother -- he's Matt Dillon's brother in real life. But he's not playing himself.

Then I start watching "The Comeback". I have to admit that even though I sorta hated the show and sat uncomfortably through the episodes, I found the character analysis of the lead character absolutely fascinating. "The Comeback" is a fake reality show about a washed-up actress who's making a comeback in a sitcom. Yeah, you follow me? And on last night's episode, they had some woman whom I think really was on the real reality show, "Amazing Race," playing herself and pretending to run out of gas to make her own reality show on this fake reality show seem more exciting. And Lisa Kudrow's character got all upset over the incident because it wasn't "real".

When you throw a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" which is an improvised, though scripted show sort of about Seinfeld creator Larry David's life -- and which also has Hollywood stars who play themselves on it -- you can see how you end up trying to get a grip on what's what, what's real, what's fake and what's not.

Almost makes you long for the simple, contrived good ol shows like "The Brady Bunch" or even "Cheers".


Blogger BelowTheCrowd said...

Y'know Cody, I've tried to watch these shows, but I find myself getting the same empty feeling I got when I watched "Sideways." Basically, that I can walk into any Starbucks within 20 miles of where I live, sit down at a table with my laptop, and listen to the real-life versions of these wannabes whine and moan about their predicaments.

The made for the little (or big) screen versions of these people's lives is no more interesting.

In truth, I think it's part of the reason that movie viewing and video sales are both down sharply. Hollywood is so obsessed with itself that it's become virtually impossible for any outside content to make its way in to the endless loop of recycled ideas and shows about people making reality shows about showbiz people ad infinitum.

Don't believe me? Show up for my birthday at the end of the month. I'll introduce you to the guy who's sure he's got a hit with a comedy pilot about a bunch of misfits making a TV show, another guy whose dream it is to make a movie based on some obscure comic book, a third guy who finally gave up on trying to sell his movie script and is instead trying to pitch an idea for a movie based on the zany things he did to try to get anybody to look at his script.

It's boring. It's tiresome. And none of it is real, because the real life is sitting in a Starbucks talking about it, while trying to hold down two table-waiting jobs so you can afford the hot car that you're sure will get you noticed.

Sadly, it's rare that anybody even tries to do anything original. "Get Shorty" captured things well, by vividly pointing out that there isn't a whole lot of difference between a loanshark and a Hollywood producer.

Yeah, I'm a cynic and I've been in LA far too long.


7/11/2005 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger J. Kahn said...

I hear what you're saying. I've heard that a ton of Curb Your Enthusiam is ad-libbed because that's how Larry David likes it.

But if you want to really get confused, try watching HBO's "Unscripted". I'm not sure sometimes which parts are scripted. Although most of the time I just sit there thinking how damn hot Krista Allen is.

7/11/2005 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger revert said...

Speaking of VOD, what is wrong with SEACHANGE?

7/14/2005 03:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your not a cynic. you are just telling it like it is. Living in LA, that alone will make you a cynic. I grew up there and was lucky to get the heck out.We have a starbucks in our little town in the central coast. The people here talk about their gardens, growing and planting vegetables or the great sushi they had with friends that they caught the day before, or they just read the local rag. A lot to be said about living in a small town, it is real. I drive a 1987 El Camino , now that's a cool car. Cody I can't watch these shows I just don't find them entertaining.

7/21/2005 12:37:00 PM  

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