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The Surreal Life 6, Episode 1: Brawny Tawny, Hynotherapy, and Transgenderby TS LeMelle -- 03/23/2006
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A true sign that a reality show is past its prime is when it features celebrities and the only two it can drum up are Sherman Hemsley and Florence Henderson. That’s what The Surreal Life did this season, folks. Apparently even VH-1 doesn’t think these “celebrities” are all that because the studio house this time is a motel, and a cheap one at that. As each houseguest pulls up into the driveway, an annoying bellhop greets each one, cracking lame jokes.
The first to arrive is Sherman. The best word to describe him is “chilled out.” I don’t know if he’s on antidepressants or he wore himself out playing the high energy George Jefferson for so long, but animated he isn’t.
Next to arrive is Tawny Kitaen, of Whitesnake video fame. I found it interesting that she was once married to a baseball player and went to jail for battery and spousal abuse. Her name was Brawny Tawny –Ha! VH-1 apparently wants us to look upon Tawny as less than intelligent. They show us a clearly bewildered Tawny trying to figure out which room to sleep in. There are six houseguests and three bedrooms. One has three beds, one has two beds and the last has the single (which George wisely selected for himself). After about an hour of mumbling “there’s six of us and three beds in this room…” her brain finally grasps that there will be three women so she should sleep in the room with the three beds. She flings her exhausted self on the bed as CC Deville pulls up.
CC is too loud and too happy in my opinion. He’s the polar of opposite of Sherman, who hasn’t said much as people are arriving, opting to relax quietly, nibbling snacks. We find out that he and Tawny know each other. He recognizes Sherman, who doesn’t recognize him, but then, I don’t think Sherman would recognize Weezy if she returned from the dead.
Steve Harwell, the Smashmouth front man, arrives next. In the space of about five seconds, we learn that the band began in San Jose, that Steve is a heavy drinker, and that he hopes he isn’t the cause of the band’s downfall. The bellhop quips that it’s so hot there that day it’s like walking on the sun. Crickets chirp and I roll my eyes.
Steve enters and greets everyone. He and CC decide to share rooms because Steve has a fiancé at home and can’t be bothered to be in a room “between two women.” He and CC trade rehab stories, discussing how they just got sober. CC wants to know why no one is taking off their clothes and peeing. I’m now thinking that with CC, Steve and, Tawny just out of rehab and Sherman so out of touch that this is going to be the most boring Surreal Life ever.
Enter Andrea Lowell, the Playboy vixen. For someone who’s only 22, she’s done a lot of working without clothes. She’s been in the magazine several times and hosts four Playboy TV shows. She’s also called the “Natural” because she’s all that. I think the boys will have fun with her, and I’m wondering how long it will take her and Tawny to mix it up.
Last to arrive is someone who defies explanation, Alexis Arquette. He tells us that we’ll know him from the famous family, the Arquettes. He wants to be a woman and wears prosthetic boobies. His biggest fear is being misunderstood by people. Lots of things came to mind as he said this and it had nothing to do with being misunderstood.
Alexis seems to cause a stir among all the houseguests except Sherman. I really would like to know what he’s on… Anyway, seems CC already knows Alexis from a prior engagement, but the others just look shocked. Alexis prattles on about how “he, she, and it don’t really matter” and that he prefers to be referred to as she.
Now that everyone’s arrived (for now), the first Surreal Times arrives! Tawny gets it and VH-1 again illustrates her dimness by showing us a few minutes of footage of her reading it to herself while the other housemates look at her, incredulous. CC finally prompts her to read it out loud and she announces that a mystery guest will be arriving at 6 pm. Seems that the Surreal Life houseguests in the past have had several issues with each other and they feel a therapist is the answer. Everone speculates who it will be and no one thinks it’s Florence Henderson.
Yes, Ma Brady enters the house, saying, “Hi honey, I’m home!” Turns out she’s a hypnotherapist, which qualifies as advisor for a VH-1 show. Apparently, Florence suffered so horribly from stage fright that she went to a hypnotherapist. She informs them that she won’t be sleeping in the house but she will be there every day. Smart woman.
Alexis worries that she won’t be able to open up her “closet” to Mrs. Brady. Tawny seems pleased that she’s part of the group. George looks on silently. Immediately taking charge, Florence decides that they should make dinner and starts doling out chores.
While everyone makes dinner, Tawny puffs herself up for Florence by tearing down Andrea and her Playboy work. She seems to feel that what Andrea does is wrong and feels the need to say that she has been approached by Playboy numerous times and turned them down.
Skiving off work, Alexis grabs Andrea to have a little girl talk by the pool. I won’t get into the gory details but she basically tells her that she’s becoming a woman and what it entails and offers her soon to be discarded parts to her. Once I picked my mouth up off the floor, it was to Andrea saying that she has no idea why she would discuss this with her. I notice she doesn’t reject his offer, though. After she tells her she has a rockin body, they go back in and eat dinner.
Dinner is uneventful, except for Florence observing that all of the houseguests could be her children, including Sherman, and that Sherman probably needs a mother more than the rest because he’s really shy and willing to be in the background. That’s not being shy, Florence; that’s being drugged.
The next day opens to Steve telling us he was homesick for a second and CC running on the treadmill. The girls are still sleeping. The Surreal Times arrives and it says “More Meat.” They find out that apparently, there isn’t enough beefcake in the house, so there will be an additional houseguest and it will be a guy. When they go outside, as instructed by the Times, Florence informs them that they will select their new housemate through the 15 More Minutes of Fame Reality Hunk Pageant. The contestants are:
In the first round, contestants answer questions like why they feel they would be an asset to the house. John is eliminated after this round. In the second round, the men to strut their stuff. Corey is eliminated. Alexis feels if he would kiss and tell about Paula Abdul, he’d kiss and tell about them. Round three is a Q&A round, with the Surreal Lifers asking questions. Scott is eliminated. With two left, Florence instructs the women to vote between Ace and Maven. And yes, Alexis is considered a woman for the vote. The new roommate is: Maven!
Tawny feels that Maven would be a good roommate because while he was a hunk, he was a humble hunk. Even the guys seem to like him.
Apparently, Andrea is really liking Maven. Because both of them are young, she thinks he’ll want to stay up with her and party. Also, she thinks he’s cute. Florence thinks there may be something there.
After Florence leaves, Andrea makes a beeline to Alexis to complain about her. She feels that Florence won’t leave her alone and is judging her because of her career. She feels that she sees her as just taking her clothes off and a bimbo, but she isn’t.
Tawny goes to bed while the youngsters (Maven, Alexis, and Andrea) head for the Jacuzzi. Alexis dares Maven to walk back to his room naked, which of course he does. Alexis feels his physique is a work of art and with that, the first episode of Surreal Life 6 comes to a close.
TS LeMelle is a displaced East Coast writer living in the South. Email her at email@example.com to discuss all things reality.
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