Made for TV by TV personalities: how fame cannot buy quality

BY ERIN MOYER ’16
Contributing Writer

How about some fresh, original content for your silver screen? How about some new jokes, new ideas, and new faces livening up the ol’ airwaves?

Yeah, I thought that sounded gross too. But fortunately, we have proof yet again that network television, and the people whose faces appear on it, get us. An oddly large amount of largely B-List celebrities have recently begun to develop TV shows based on themselves. These people span from the theoretically “hip” (Cee Lo Green, y’all) to the random (Ricky Martin, anyone?). The shows range from the somewhat interesting to the, well, Tyra Banks.

This phenomenon first began last August with reports that Maroon 5 frontman and professional chair-spinner Adam Levine would be developing a comedy with NBC, one based loosely around his own life and, I imagine, the definition of comedy. Levine will be the executive producer of a sitcom set in a karaoke bar. The everyday toils of a gang of good friends will be periodically broken by bursts of spontaneous song. I’m picturing a grown-up, cold-eyed Glee, where the singing is sadder and more rooted in substance abuse.

But, never one to be outdone, it wasn’t long before Levine’s co-chair-spinner on The Voice, Cee Lo Green, unveiled his own plans to foster a show with NBC. Green plans for a multi-camera comedy, where we watch as he balances the wackiness of his career and home life with hilarity and, dare I say, heart. It is probably the most relatable spin to be put on the life of Cee Lo Green, the man who once told People Magazine that he met Lady, his salmon-tinted, Moluccan cockatoo, “flying around in a fantasy,” wherein “she was wild and free just as [he’d] like to be.” Hey, birds of a feather do flock — or, in Cee Lo and Lady’s case, “whisper inappropriateness” — together.

From there, the hits came quickly.

Ricky Martin also signed a development deal with NBC, perhaps in the hopes of doing for the flailing network what he did for Evita on Broadway, and totally not run it into the ground at all.

Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe enlisted with NBC to make a show chronicling her life as a regular mom and a dresser to the stars. How this will mine territory left untouched by the other show about Rachel Zoe’s life, The Rachel Zoe Project on Bravo, is yet to be known.

Recording artist John Legend recently signed with Fox to produce a tale of a young man suddenly saddled with rearing a child, based on his own upbringing.

Ty Burrell and his brother are working on a sitcom for ABC, based loosely upon their own childhood, wherein two city-slicker families manage a country store in a rural Oregon town and stereotypes ensue.

But my personal favorite? Tyra Banks and her childhood friend are developing a show to tell America the story of her anguished years as a pimply, tweenage nobody before she became an internationally known model.

These anguished years, for the record, probably amount to about a fortnight, since she began modeling at 15. The show will be called Fivehead, for in high school, as Tyra puts it, “if you had my forehead, you were a fivehead!” and when you are Tyra Banks you often need to cast around to find something really unappealing about yourself.

So, what’s the point? The point is that these people are professional egomaniacs, overexposed and overly marketed. The point is there should be more energy and creativity than this, than Fivehead, jostling for airtime.

This medium could be engaging, entertaining, daring, and incredibly relevant again, or, for once. But in this age, when the Kardashian Klan are manning an empire and the Jersey Shore cast, a dynasty, what do you expect?

This is just the next logical step, another synergized link on the Darwinian food chain of TV.

What will we watch next? Shows about shows about celebrities? Entire channels dedicated to one celebrity? (Oprah may be one step ahead of us.) Or will we all be too lost in the glaring abyss that was apparently Tyra Banks’ teenage forehead to even notice? Either way, please stay tuned — I know I will.

Questions? Email Erin at emoyer1@fandm.edu.

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