Attention whores Heidi and Spencer demand attention, call NBC’s Ben Silverman during I’m a Celebrity premiere

Incredibly, in the six years since ABC aired I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, the show hasn’t really changed much at all. It’s basically celebrity Big Brother in the jungle: cheesy, awkward, cheap-looking.

I’m not sure why they don’t make the series more like Survivor, but from the bad HD (which seemed like stretched SD footage and was crazy unflattering to a shocking, makeup-less Janice Dickinson) to the tons of supplies provided to the celebrities, they have nothing in common at all. The celebrities are so pampered they complain, as Heidi did, that there was just “one toilet.” At least they’re required to empty it frequently.

We now know what the producers of Big Brother are doing during their vacation: designing stupid challenges for the pseudo-celebrities. The live “trial” challenge that ended the episode wasn’t interesting to watch on TV nor did it even seem like a challenge. Tipped backwards into a tank where insects were being released, the celebrities were supposed to be scared, but their heads didn’t appear to be touching the bottom (so there didn’t seem to be the possibility that something would crawl on their heads), and more importantly, they couldn’t see what was being dropped in, so they weren’t scared.

But that was at least all of this was expected, since that’s how the show looked in the past. The surprising part was that the show belonged to Heidi and Spencer Pratt, and their antics were pretty much the only thing that sustained the show. I won’t call them “entertaining,” because they weren’t; the only entertaining part was the mileage Frangela and a few of the other cast members–including shirtless Sanjaya!–got out of their antics.

The couple was just annoying. Starting during the preview, in which Spencer Pratt was already showing off for the cameras, I was reminded why I can’t really watch The Hills. I’m all for villains (hell, I love them), but Spencer Pratt isn’t a real villain: he’s an attention whore with an ever-inflating ego.

I have no doubt he’s an asshole, because he’s not a good enough actor to fake that, but he’s also smart and admitted during the show that he wants people to hate him, so he plays that up. No real person says “I’m the king of America” seriously. From the way the couple “quit” the show twice to the way he slapped a water bottle out of Angela’s hand and screamed at her, he tried to be the center of attention the whole time, and the show played along. So did Heidi, although she doesn’t seem to be aware of his act; at one point, she apologized for him and said he’s “a very new Christian.” Sort of funny because of its extreme naivety. But four nights a week of this for four weeks?

By the way, if there was any doubt why NBC is in fourth place, it may be because its entertainment president, Ben Silverman, actually takes calls from cast members pretending they are “too rich and too famous” to subject themselves to an experience they absolutely knew they’d subject themselves to. During his call with Ben, which took place after they “quit” the first time, Spencer even managed to say with a straight face that “this cast is devaluing our fame.”

At the beginning, Spencer said, “I’d rather live in the jungle with monkeys than go back to America as a loser.” Unfortunately for Spencer, whatever happens, whether he quits or wins, he’s going back to American as a loser–although the more we keep paying attention to him the more he’ll be convinced otherwise.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.