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The Surreal Life 2, Episode 2: The Vanilla Ice Therapy Hour



We asked Redacted when we could expect her recap of this week's Surreal Life. Here's what she said: You want a recap of this episode? Vanilla Ice really needs professional help. That's it. There's your recap. Oh you want details? Fine, but it will be painful for you to read, but trust me – this will hurt me more than it hurts you. I had to watch this twice. While taking notes. You can't say I didn't warn you. 

Before we begin, a couple of ancillary notes that mean nothing to anyone. I was flipping through the channels one afternoon this week and saw Ron Jeremy on Moral Court. He was the accuser and I didn't catch the whole thing because my kiddos came home from school and I'm particular about what TV they are exposed to, but the gist of it was some kind of moral battle of porn vs. prostitution. Also a correction: I mentioned last week that it looked like Erik was wearing a toupee but it's been brought to my attention that what he was doing was moving his scalp in such a way that it looks like you're adjusting a toupee. I didn't mean to disparage his full and luxurious head of fabulous hair. I am not being sarcastic; he has great hair. I just didn't get the gag. Maybe this show is too complicated for me.

One last thing, I said last week that since Vanilla was annoyed by being referred to as Vanilla Ice that's what I would call him since he annoyed me? Well it's merely Vanilla now since after tonight, his dignity, such as it is, isn't worth the time it takes me to type out the three extra letters and a shift key.

Okay, with that out of the way let's get to it. We have new opening credits. Replacing the voiceover from Danny Bonaduce we have sound bites of the cast talking about themselves: Erik refers to CHiPs being a major hit, and he was a TV hunk and more. Ron has the record for adult films, working up to three sex scenes a week. Tammy Faye says she never wanted to cry on TV again, but now she's gone and done it. Vanilla is sick of being perceived as an image. Trishelle: "I drink a lot, and I'm sure all of America thinks I'm a totally slut." Traci: Is the most realest celeb ever! Oh, and she isn't a bimbo.

The show begins with Ron sleeping naked and Erik doing push-ups, musing about how he misses his real life. Ron wakes up and tells us how he showers each and every morning with Trishelle and Traci but not at the same time. That isn't exactly showering with someone, it's using the same shower, but who am I to let logic interfere with a lame joke? He's hoping for a drought so they will have to conserve water and shower together. Yeah, that'll happen. I lived in California and there was a drought at the time, so that was the first thing I did after I put a brick in my toilet. I looked for a porn star with whom to shower.

Down in the kitchen, the guys are making breakfast. Vanilla prepares some eggs and bacon, which apparently Ron didn't find too appetizing since he teased Vanilla for preferring that to the omelet he had offered him. It was a light moment and I hope you didn't blink as you'd have missed it... here comes the drama. There is no salt! Last week they expected him to eat non-Jimmie Dean sausage and unfrosted flakes and now there is no salt? What this man has to endure – it's like the Fear Factor of breakfast foods. So in typical Ice fashion he handles it as any 30-something-year-old man would and throws a tantrum.

Erik says he calls Vanilla "Johnny Rocket" because he's always going off like a rocket. That isn't even accurate. Rockets explode but then they shoot off into space and go away. Like an antibiotic-resisting rash, Vanilla doesn't go away; he lingers and slowly drives you insane. But back to the story. Vanilla can't eat his eggs without salt and they are getting cold, so the clock is ticking. He will not have cold, unsalted eggs I tell you! So he does what any person would do when they need a seasoning and don't mind committing criminal mischief to get it? He breaks into the pantry. The pantry is an off-limits part of the house so he jimmys in, seemingly damaging the door in the process. Erik, the voice of reason, tries to stop him to no avail. He tears through the pantry looking for the salt and the sugar while Erik pleads with him to respect the man's privacy. What man? The owner of the house or "the man" as in Shaft will be walking through the door any minute? I guess we'll never know as it isn't explained but we do learn that Vanilla doesn't have to respect the man, but the man has to respect his stomach.

Trishelle interviews that Vanilla has had some anger management counseling and that he should really get his money back as it didn't exactly help. Two words: Truth screamer. The Surreal Times shows up on the doorstep, and they find out that they will be trying their hands at working in a restaurant today. Actually, it says that this restaurant's customers will served by "high wattage mega-stars." I'll just let that joke stand alone. There will be someone managing them. I wonder who it could be? There's the doorbell and look – it's Gary Coleman! Erik knows before he opens the door by the shadow who it is. Yeah? I think I'd be self-conscious to have such a distinctive shadow.

Vanilla is not happy at all about what he refers to as the "cheese factor" that is Gary Coleman. It takes a minute for the absolute absurdity of that comment to sink in so I'll wait. Have you processed that? (Would that make it processed cheese? Sorry, I'm losing brain cells by the minute here. Did I mention I had to watch this twice?) Vanilla Ice is referring to someone else as cheese. You know what's funny is that he has no idea how ironic that is. I almost feel bad laughing at him. Nah, I really don't so let's continue.

Trishelle, on the other hand, is really excited to see Gary and refers to him as a "cute little man." How very patronizing of her. He tells us he will be managing the six of them while they work a shift at Mel's Diner, the proceeds of which will go to charity. Gary takes this managerial job seriously and so he interviews them each to determine their appropriate positions. Gary takes everything very seriously, as we will soon see.

He begins with Erik, asking him the last job he had before this one. Erik says he was a guest on Scrubs, and Gary seems suitably impressed. Flashes of other interviews show that Tammy Faye is a minister, Ron is a freelance actor, and that Traci just finished shooting a "top show on another network." He then asks Trishelle if she is a people person and indeed she is. He asks if she likes men and indeed she does. He asks if she likes short, black men, about four foot eight, 35-years-old. She looks nonplussed before saying that indeed she does like men just like him. That was a genuinely funny moment and they are few and far between in this episode. Interviewing Vanilla he asks if he is a trouble maker, and Vanilla says he is if pushed. He asks Traci if she minds working with cow and pig meat and she says she doesn't eat meat. The skeezy bimbo jokes just write themselves, don't they?

Gary gives everyone their assignments: Erik will be the busboy, Traci the dessert chef, Ron and Vanilla the cooks, and Tammy Faye and Trishelle the servers. Erik is glad he isn't cooking, as there would be a lot of people going home hungry that night. I think they will anyway, but let's see how it unfolds. Perhaps they will be gracious and professional and give it the old college try for charity. Or maybe they will make it all about themselves and act like morons. I'm thinking door number two but we'll see.

They get to the restaurant and are told to get into their uniforms and to wash their hands. People are staring and wouldn't you? You stop in somewhere to grab a burger and The Surreal Lifetakes over the joint – that has to be a little unsettling. Getting into their uniforms, Traci can't stop commenting about how she loves the hat. Paper hats are high couture; I can't blame her. Tammy Faye says she looks like Lucille Ball in her uniform and Erik does an impromptu Chippendale routine with no shirt and a bow tie, which is very cute. Gary sticks his head into the men's room where the guys are changing to see if they are about ready to begin. Vanilla tells him to get out of by saying, "no girls allowed." I asked last week and I ask again, how old is this guy?

In the kitchen they wait for Gary to tell them what to do. Every ship needs a captain. In the meantime Vanilla amuses himself by handing Ron a banana and asking him if he'd like to slip it into his pants. Ron asks why he would want to appear smaller. Ba dum bump. After all of Ron's one liners we get the rim-shot so the subtlety of the sexual humor doesn't whoosh over our heads. Since Ron won't play, as it were, Vanilla puts the banana through his own fly so it's hanging out in an obscene manner. Obscene if you have a thing for bananas, I suppose, but the girls laugh anyway. It's an old gag and works much better with a raw turkey neck. Don't ask me how I know, but trust me, it does.

Vanilla thinks Gary is taking things too seriously, and Gary thinks that too much time has been wasted on nonsense. I think they're both right. Gary reiterates that the money is going to charity, and that they need to keep their stations clean to set an example to the regular staff. Wow, I bet the regular staff was just waiting for a bunch of formerly famous people to come in and show them how to do their jobs. The jobs they do professionally. For a living.

They have staff members train everyone in how to perform their jobs, and the housemates are told they will be tested vigorously. Tammy Faye tells us that they were given so many details so fast that there's no way to remember them all. On a serious note here, she has a point. Back when I was young I worked as a waitress for all of four days. It was short-lived because that is hard work. You have to remember stuff, and not drop things, not spill water on people, and on top of that you have to be pleasant. Also, you're on your feet the whole time. Four days back in the ‘80s and my feet still hurt. Listen to me, I'm whiny and bratty enough to qualify to be on this show! The point is, Tammy Faye wasn't wrong, in that it isn't easy to pick up the procedure of a new place immediately in that kind of chaotic environment.

Back in the kitchen, Ron shows us how to turn a foot-long into a Hebrew National frank and proceeds to circumcise it. One guy sort of chuckles but by and large the cooking staff is not amused. It wouldn't have killed them to crack a smile – how often do they have an impromptu bris performed on hot dogs back there?

Traci isn't satisfied with being dessert chef so she is working the customers as well. It doesn't hurt that her blouse is almost completely unbuttoned, and her gravity-defying breasts are spilling out of her black bra. Or is it a low cut tank top? Don't make me look again. I'll have nightmares about enormous saline filled volleyballs. She says that getting the orders right and pleasing the customers is a challenge.

Vanilla, in what passes as playful to him, picks Gary up and threatens to throw him in the deep fryer. Gary hates Vanilla. We all do, Gary.

Gary informs them that they need to pick up the pace and give better service, as all the tips go to charity, and it's only a five-hour shift. Erik is so happy and enthusiastic to be doing something for a cause that he really throws himself into this. Honestly, he seems like the nicest guy. Vanilla says Erik is feeding on the energy and attention. Vanilla seems to genuinely like Erik, calling him a "ball of energy and a ball of fun." Can you blame him? Erik's niceness is such that it can even penetrate into Vanilla's world of anger and delusion. He thought at first the energy was from the pills Erik takes, and Vanilla clarifies that they're vitamins. Good thing he clarified, as I don't want him tarnishing Erik's good name. Erik is giving this all he has – even cheerfully cleaning sinks and toilets in the bathroom.

Tammy Faye asks two young male customers what they would like to drink and one says water and Erik (AKA Johnny-on-the-spot) is there with a glass. The other young man would like an Arnold Palmer and asks Tammy Faye if she knows what that is. She says of course she does, he's a golfer. The guy is a total jerk about her not knowing what is in that drink, and she is so polite when she says they will probably know what it is when she places the order. Hey, Arnold Palmer is a golfer to me, too, so get off of Tammy Faye's back. Tammy Faye says she is trying hard and feels like she's about to die. I really hope she doesn't as that would cut the cast to five, which would mean more screen time for Vanilla.

Ron feels he's doing an adequate job as a chef. Not great, but adequate. Must be nice for a guy like Ron to have the pressure off like that. In his usual line of work adequate is never really adequate, if you know what I mean. We are treated to an eating montage of Ron snacking as he works, which for some reason makes my fiancé laugh pretty loud. I don't know why and don't care to explore it, but if that was meant to be funny it worked on him.

While all this is happening, Gary is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. He takes the time to tell Vanilla not to make Ron look bad in the kitchen. Vanilla responds by picking Gary up like a sack of potatoes while yelling, "Get in my belly!" Somewhere Mike Meyers is ashamed to have been quoted, yet proud that his Fat Bastard character is still more appealing than Vanilla. Erik interviews that it was probably insulting to Gary to be picked up like a sack of groceries. You think? Vanilla says that Gary is lighter than his six-year-old. This man has children. So we can stop thinking about that.

Trishelle is annoyed that "sweet little Gary" is turning into Lucifer and yelling at her. I think being referred to as "sweet little Gary" when he is 35 years old would make anyone a little cranky. Trishelle thinks he has height envy since she's so much taller than he is. She says, "most little people are given a little bit of power, and you make something way more out of it than what it is." Way to stereotype an entire group of people and make only yourself look stupid, Trishelle. Oh, and FYI, not everyone who finds you annoying is jealous of you. Trust me on that.

Traci says that she's having fun, but Gary is out of control. She really seems to be having a good time and is, dare I say it, entirely likable during the restaurant portion of tonight's program. And if by out of control she means asking her whose food she is eating and trying to hand feed to him, then he was. Traci is picking food off the plates she is either preparing or set to deliver, I can't tell, but it doesn't matter. That's food people ordered and will pay for, so don't snack on it. That's really gross, and she was the one who made such a fuss about manners being so important to her.

Gary needs another busboy so he calls Vanilla out of the kitchen to help out. As one might imagine, he isn't all that enthused about busing tables. Vanilla says Gary's in a bad mood. From what I know about working in restaurants when it's busy, everyone multi-tasks. Deal, the both of you. They have some seriously irritated customers in there and can you blame them? You stop in a restaurant for something to eat and you find yourself in the middle of this television freak show? Not even a well orchestrated freak show, since you get bad service and food that's been snacked by Traci Bingham, whom you probably can't even place since she has most of her clothes on? Who wouldn't be irritated?

Gary tries to take the order of a table and is told the order has already been taken. The man says he's all for charity but... and as his voice trails off we all finish his thought. All for charity, but it is a restaurant, and he is expecting to eat sometime today.

Gary can't motivate his staff and seems sincerely distraught over this as we cut to shots of Traci fanning Ron, and Trishelle chugging a beer straight from the bottle with some customers. But what exactly was he thinking? He was going to be the Donald Trump of the burger and fries set with a cadre of obsequious employees afraid to challenge his authority? He really should have approached this as what it is: a television program goofing on people. Had he come with that perspective he could have had a good time and probably left with a little more respect shown him. I'm here for career advice, anytime.

Trishelle is shown talking on a cell phone laughing about how unhappy the customers are right in front of the unhappy customers. Hey, I thought they weren't allowed cell-phones? Tammy Faye is trying her best but has seriously messed up the bookkeeping and thinks the restaurant may never recover. Oh, they'll recover from some erroneous totals, but probably not from agreeing to host this circus in the first place. She can't blame herself. Gary is very disappointed in his staff.

Cut away to a shot of Ron massaging Tammy Faye's neck as she loses herself to his masterful hands while saying, "oh it feels totally wonderful, yes, oh yes," while moaning. I need to be careful or I'm going to lapse into writing porn and my editor is going to have to password protected this recap. [Editor's Note: I'm going to have to take a shower first.] Gary says he knows Tammy can do better, which really isn't fair since she seems to be doing the best that she can.

Erik is still hard at work busing tables when he's asked by a dad to watch his daughter while he goes to the men's room. Normally, I would take the dad to task for leaving his child in the care of a stranger, but in this case no way. As a divorced mom I know how hard it is to get to the bathroom when out and about with small kids once my sons reached the age of being mortified by being dragged into the ladies room. It isn't like there is a safety issue involved here; it's Erik Estrada, for crying out loud. Like he's going to snatch and grab someone's kid. Can you see the police report? "Yes, officer, my daughter was kidnapped and I know who did it. Erik Estrada. Remember CHiPs? Yes, Ponch – that Erik Estrada. He won't be hard to find. Just look for a man with a great head of hair and really nice white teeth being followed by a camera crew."

So while I thought it was great that Erik agreed to babysitting duty, Gary doesn’t think so. He is upset that he has to bus tables while Erik hangs out with the little girl for fifteen minutes. That's pretty funny, fifteen minutes. It isn't a potty break as much as it is respite care. Gary is on the verge of losing it and Erik tries to diffuse the situation by telling Gary to get the girl some ice cream. Gary balks at the menial task but Erik is insistent, upping the order with some chocolate syrup. He is totally trying to spare the little one the shame of seeing a former child star have a total meltdown. She is so cute and the producers even give her one of Erik Estrada's trademark tooth sparkles. Aww.

They are driving the customers away. A man at a table asks to see the manager, and Gary comes over. I think he wanted to talk to a real manager, but you get what you deserve when you see the cameras and decide to eat there anyway. He is upset that there had been bacon on his sandwich at one time. With Traci standing by he makes Gary smell the bread to prove there had once been bacon there. He explains to Gary that he's Jewish and can't eat the bread where once there had been bacon. Gary sends it back, telling Traci to take it off the bill, with orders to tell the kitchen, "He's Jewish! That's important!" The customer was very serious which works well with Gary, who, as we know, is very serious. I know how he meant it and I am totally on board with getting exactly what you order in a restaurant, but it was funny the way in which it was phrased. During the next commercial I asked my daughter to please bring me a glass of ice-water telling her, "I'm Catholic, and that's important!" I don't allow my kids to watch this show so she didn't get the Gary-bashing reference, yet she didn't bat an eye, making me wonder if they are just immune to my random inane ramblings. I need to look into that.

Trishelle thinks this is all bulls**t. "You should have asked for no bacon, baby." She interviews that she was very pissed off and told them they can just go get their own f**king food. Wow. Most people don't enjoy being cussed out by their waitress for insisting that their order not violate their religious principles.

Hey look who's here! Todd Bridges! Tammy Faye knew Todd when he was a little boy and now he's a grown man. That tends to happen with the passing of time. If you were looking for hugs and a heartfelt reunion between the two former TV brothers, you will be disappointed. Gary takes one look at Todd and says that this is so not the day for this.

Everyone else is pretty happy to see Todd, and Vanilla is a little too happy. They seem to know each other, as Todd calls him Rob. He goes on a mission to get Gary to say, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" He wants to hear him say it just one time. But he doesn't ask just one time; he beats the horse 'till it's dead and then beats it some more 'till it comes back to life then dies again. Vanilla says it's a cult classic. Can anything related to Diff'rent Strokes be considered a cult classic? I thought it was a mainstream sitcom with obvious jokes and canned laughter, and there is nothing cultish or classicy about that. Gary is adamant that he won't say it even once, as then he will have no credibility, and his credibility is something he takes very seriously. Say it with me: Gary takes everything very seriously. I don't want to be the one to tell him that the credibility ship had already sailed long before he signed up for this particular humiliation.

Erik says that Gary has an issue with saying that. He continues that it's hard for child stars, as their careers often end when they grow up and that Vanilla should try to understand he has to deal with in his way just like Vanilla does. Vanilla continues to try to harass Gary into saying the line and cannot let it go. Just as I'm thinking pot meet kettle, since Vanilla made such a stink last week about wanting to distance himself from his embarrassing past, the editors help me out by showing with flashbacks of Vanilla's rampage with the red marker X-ing out his picture on the mural. He says that Gary should just "get over it" – and believe it or not he isn't struck by a big ol’ lightning bolt of irony.

He then picks Gary up again and again threatens to put him in the deep fryer. Put aside for a second how incredibly insulting it is to treat a grown man like a child or, worse, like a pet by picking him up against his will and carrying him around. If you can, put aside the humiliation of that for a moment, and if you can't I understand, as it's a hard thing to ignore. But aside from that, how freaking scary would it be to be toted around by someone who is clearly mentally unbalanced and has some pretty serious issues with anger? That had to be a horrific experience for him all the way around.

Gary fires Vanilla. Todd says he'll cook, so he has Vanilla give Todd his jacket. Vanilla got fired from a non-existent job! Gary walks outside to hail a cab, and no one can believe he's leaving, so everyone follows to try to talk to him. Tammy Faye is sad that he's leaving, since he took it all so seriously. She just wants everyone to be happy all the time, and I can't find fault with that. I can't believe Gary didn't leave when Vanilla picked him up the first time.

Gary is extremely upset, saying he doesn't like to fail. It is quite a scene, and the stares from the passersby are priceless. Even so, ever the manager, he's yelling at them for leaving their jobs to deal with his drama. Traci chases after him, trying to help by miming karate moves at him. What could be more helpful? Gary gets into a cab and takes off, while Todd says he gets that way sometimes. I can't even imagine his shame if he watched this episode. I was embarrassed for him.

As they prepare to leave the restaurant, someone hands them their comment cards. You know the little surveys people fill out about the service? They are then sent on their way. Back at the casa they gather to read the cards and bask in their incompetence. "Erik Estrada was the best," "Vanilla Ice is still hot," and one customer mentioned being afraid of having ordered the pie since Ron Jeremy was cooking. "Was that was real cream?" Yuck. "Tammy is nice like my mom, but Ron Jeremy is creepy like my dad." "Traci and Trishelle are the hottest waitresses I ever had," and, "the food was great but the service was slow."

Tammy Faye says that even though she messed up, she still had an awesome night. Everyone should walk in someone else's moccasins, and she is grateful for the experience.

Traci interviews that their days are filled with fun and joy. What? Whatever she is taking, I would like the same prescription, please. But whatever innocent escapades these playful scamps get into during the day they are followed by wicked nights. You'd think that was the premise to one of Ron's movies but no, cut to shots of Traci wildly drunk, doing karate moves on everyone. She comes after Erik with her kung fu fighting, and he tells her, "you kicked me once but if you hit my hair it'll be your dick in the dirt." Given that Traci is a woman, that doesn't really make sense but hey – a Sammy Hagar shout-out! Erik is certainly full of surprises!

Traci is now fighting Ron, or trying to, as since she's a woman he can't really fight back. As he points out, if he tries, he'll either lose and be humiliated, or win and look like a brute and a creep. He says she's a wildcat and she jumps on him. He's lying on the bed on his back, she's face-down on top of him. He tells us how her breast was bopping against his cheek as she wrestled him, and it was kinda nice and kinda sexual. He says she's a real firecracker, and you never know what will happen as there is plenty of time left. I'm sure if something happens, the two of you who are interested will be able to purchase it on the straight-to-video release.

It's finally the next morning, and Erik is off again to wake the children. He's such a dad. Well, a dad with a memory that they kept him up late so he’ll get them up early. He brings Traci a cappuccino to tempt her out of bed, but she's dead to the world. He's calling her Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, so she is probably confused. Do you think she's smart enough to connect that with her karate of the previous evening and get the joke? I don't either. Since he can't coax her out of bed with coffee, he tries luring her with a wine tasting. Looks like Trishelle isn't the only boozehound in the house.

Finally people rouse themselves and gather in the kitchen, while Tammy Faye heads to the front porch to find a couple of grocery bags and the daily Surreal Times. She is very excited about the groceries, since it means Vanilla will have the sugar he was craving yesterday and it may avoid a repeat tantrum. She doesn't actually say that, but I can read it in her eyes. She unpacks the groceries in the kitchen handing him the flour thinking, it was sugar, and then when she pulls out the actual sugar it spills all over the counter. You know a staffer slit that sugar bag to annoy Vanilla, so give the crew a raise already.

The paper instructs them to bake brownies and deliver them to the neighbors as a friendly gesture. One person's friendly gesture is another person's intrusive photo-op. They begin the baking process as Ron says they decide to deliver them to the neighbors. Like it was their idea. Like we didn't just see that they were told to do this. I'll suspend reality and let that stand. The women bake the brownies while the men sit at the table and chat amongst themselves. Then, on cue, the women complain that it's so typical that they are slaving over a hot oven while the men do nothing. Exactly how many pseudo-stars does it take to make a couple of pans of brownies, anyway?

Trishelle holds up a bottle of vanilla extract in one hand and an ice bucket with the word "ice" stenciled on it in the other and everyone laughs. Get it? Vanilla-----Ice. Good thing they stenciled "ice" on the bucket or we never would have got the joke because who would recognize an ice bucket without labeling?

Tammy Faye laments how long it is taking for the brownies to be finished, noting, "a watched brownie never cooks." Then stop watching it, already. Cut to the housemates parading down the street, brownies in hand, to meet the neighbors. I have to interrupt this recap to remind you of last season, as it will color how you see this next scene. This is the same house they used last year, so one would assume the same neighbors, for the most part. They did the same shtick with the brownies then, too. Imagine that you live in an upscale neighborhood in a house for which you paid top dollar. One of the houses on your block used to belong to Glen Campbell. You then find out they are leasing the Rhinestone Cowboy's former abode for a reality show for C-list celebrities, but you try to ignore it and go on about your life. You can't ignore it when there is a knock at your door, and standing there are Gabrielle Carteris, Vince Neil, Hammer, Emmanuel Lewis, Brande Roderick, Jerri Manthey, and Corey Feldman, offering you brownies with cameras rolling. Several months later, another knock at your door, and the scene is repeated with an even weirder troupe bearing baked goods. That would get old very quickly, I would think.

Back to the show, where we pretend this hasn't happened before, so the neighbors should be delighted with this display of semi-famous love. Ron is afraid people will think they are selling Amway. That would be frightening. The first door they knock on, the man is very friendly, and he was either prepared for this or is just really good at extemporaneous banter (considering they have a camera inside his house when the group knocks on the door, you be the judge). He asks if he is being arrested (looking at Erik), invited to repent (looking at Tammy Faye), or if they want to make a film (looking at Ron). Trishelle asks for a drink and he says he has some skim milk but looking at her she doesn't need skim milk. Get it? Trishelle is skinny. Okay so all his banter wasn't funny. He doesn't know who Vanilla is, so as Vanilla introduces himself, he explains to the man that the man doesn't know him because he's old. That's charming, making the rounds of the neighbors and calling them old when they don't remember you or your crappy song.

They ask the man what he does for a living and he says absolutely nothing, causing Ron to ask, "so how do you know when your vacation starts?" Badum bump. After that pleasant encounter, they head to the next house and they hope it's a small family, since Erik ate most of the brownies. At the next house, the welcome isn't quite so warm. Downright chilly, in fact, when the woman says she doesn't have time for celebrities and shuts the door. Traci is astounded that she could be so rude and dumps the plate of brownies on her porch. Why does Traci see rudeness in others but not in herself? There is none so blind as she who will not see, I suppose.

I thought the woman said she didn't have time for celebrities, but in the interviews where some cast members are mocking her accent, they say, "I no like celebrities," so I'm not sure if she said she didn't have time for them or didn't like them. Oh, and mocking someone's accent? Real nice. Erik and Tammy Faye, I'm disappointed in you.

Vanilla is furious – yelling loudly "(inaudible) dick in her mouth! Whore! F**k her and the horse she rode in on! Stupid bitch! You don't like celebrities?! You live in Los Angeles, you stupid German bitch!" And he goes on to berate her for having an accent yet again. He isn't playing – he is seriously and frighteningly angry. An aside: last season there was a woman who answered the door and spoke with what, to my ears, sounded like a German accent, who also didn't want to be bothered, but was more delicate about it. I think this is a different woman – it's not like I save these tapes in some kind of archive, but the accent is the same. These producers should leave this family alone before the restraining order is filed.

Cut to a montage of the rest of the neighborhood enjoying their freshly baked treats, and then back to the house to rehash it. For the most part it was a happy event, but for the one bitch. Trishelle calls her a bitch; I call her smart to shut the door on this. It isn't bitchy to not want to play their little reindeer games.

Tammy Faye says she can relate to Vanilla's anger, as when she was younger things hit her harder than they do now. Why is she trying to soften this for him? I refuse to believe Tammy ever walked down a street screaming obscenities about someone who didn't want to chat over brownies. Ron says it was a big rejection for Vanilla, and Erik says Vanilla was insulted. Ron doesn't know how anyone can go through life with the expectation that everyone you meet will think you're the greatest.

For his part, Vanilla's livid they were made to go out there and look "like jackasses all dorkish looking" [sic] and is so humiliated. Erik says in their business, rejection is part of the deal. Vanilla "ain't down with it." Oh ain't you? He doesn't like being the butt of jokes. He says he has a strong following for what he's doing right now, and has worked so hard to get away from the old cheesy image that wasn't even him, all bad hairdos and baggy pants, and he's worked really hard to get away from that. Those of you who watched this, have your brains stopped bleeding yet?

I wish someone had clued Vanilla into some basic facts of life before he took this gig. If "you ain't down" with embarrassing stunts, don't go on a reality show where you are contractually obligated to perform them. If you don't like being the butt of jokes perhaps you should have thought about that before creating and perpetuating the image that got you there. Since one can't rewrite the past, try being a little self-deprecating, and diffuse the colossal joke that you are by making fun of yourself and showing rather than telling how far you have allegedly come in life. And oh, I don't know, acknowledge that that image you are trying so desperately to distance yourself from is the one and only reason anyone outside of your family knows your name.

That was one hate-filled diatribe but I meant every word, so in it stays. If I am ever found dead, murdered by deep-frying, I want someone to send this article to the proper authorities.

Vanilla goes on to rant that he's ashamed to be involved in anything involving Gary Coleman because the guy is a "total joke, dude." He cites Gary's ill-fated run for Governor of California. He rails again about the total cheese factor that is Gary Coleman. Vanilla's apparent break with reality is really unsettling to watch. Ron cements his position as house diplomat by pointing out that he's a ham so what's wrong with a little cheese? He seems like such a cool guy, and totally too good for this mess.

The lighthearted moment is over as Vanilla is now saying that had Hammer been here this season he wouldn't have done it. Because Hammer is a joke. He is his friend, and he likes him, but he has cheese factor.

Traci is even trying to settle him down. He's behaving in such a bizarre fashion that I welcome the calm and rational mind of Traci Bingham. She says that Danny Bonaduce was supposed to be on the show – would he have done it then? He loses it saying he would not have done it and would kick Danny's fat, punk ass. Oh please, Danny would serve him his head on a plate and still find the wherewithal to make a pithy and genuinely amusing comment about it.

Vanilla continues, since this is no longer The Surreal Life, but rather The Vanilla Ice Therapy Hour, that he wanted to come on this show to show America the real him. We've seen it. Can he go home now? Erik is so soothing during this, trying to talk him down, telling him he can relate, as he felt shut out for about ten years after CHiPs. What's with this relating crap from Erik and Tammy Faye? If they can all relate to this, they need an in-house psychiatrist, pronto.

Vanilla continues that he has attempted suicide, which should make me feel bad for being annoyed by all this, but it doesn't. If I wanted to recap Dr. Phil, I would. He was very hurt back in the day when Jim Carrey did a skit mocking him. Now everyone does that and people think it's so "complimenting" [sic] but to him it was damaging. He again goes off about the pictures, how he can't stand the pictures of himself in his heyday and he's enraged. Hey try this – how about not having a career in the public eye? Might help resolve that picture issue.

Erik says people need to laugh at themselves. He was once a TV hunk known for a tight uniform and big smile, but he always knew he was more than that. Vanilla should know he's more than his image too. He was a true original, but people used him to make a buck. It isn't his fault, and he should be proud. While I don't think taking a little responsibility for himself would hurt Vanilla, I totally get what Erik is doing here. Say anything to talk him down off the emotional ledge. Vanilla says he would have totally left the show had it not been for Erik. He loves him. Erik is the reason he is still here? Gee, thanks, Erik.

Traci tells Vanilla she wants him to convey his feelings. I'd pay good money if he'd stop conveying them. She further soothes Vanilla, telling him she was part of Baywatch, the most popular show in the world for ten to twelve years, and people laughed at them. And while people were laughing, they were making bank.

Ron says everyone there has been top at one point or another. He himself has been on the top, bottom, and sideways. Ba dum bump. Producers? More Ron Jeremy and less Vanilla Ice, I'm begging you.

Back to Vanilla, of course since it's his show. He says he doesn't want to look like a big dork on TV. It's a little late for that now. You can't even blame the show or the editing, because who would have thought Tammy Faye, Ron, and Trishelle would come off likeable enough as to markedly change people's opinions of them for the better? Judging from my mail, they have done just that. After this episode, I spoke with my friend Kathie, who also watched. She has a theory and I think it's a good one: Vanilla is being paid by Corey Feldman to make him look good. I love conspiracy theories and this one seems plausible.

The scene changes, finally, and they are at the dinner table having a "surreal Surreal Life dinner." What that means is everyone has a nametag under their plate, and for the duration of the meal they must adopt the persona of the person they have been assigned. They do this in pairs so the person who is doing you is the person you're doing. That sounds like another plot to a Ron Jeremy movie, but it's actually very chaste, so get your mind out of the gutter. The pairs are: Trishelle and Traci, Tammy Faye and Ron, Erik and Vanilla.

Tammy Faye says that she can't say the F word and Ron mentions that he doesn't use it much. That's true, he is a gentleman. As she's being Ron, Tammy Faye protests that "my feet do not stink," which was actually pretty funny. Erik as Vanilla goes off demanding the SALT, and Vanilla as Erik asks that people not talk over him. This had potential to be a pretty funny bit, but since they glossed over it so quickly, I assume the cast wasn't really up to the task. Or it was hysterical and was cut in favor of Vanilla's nervous breakdown, in which case the editors owe us all personal apologies.

Trishelle thinks Traci is becoming fun now that she gets drunk and silly and is "all cool like that." Traci is also consuming substantial amounts of booze, and she loves flashing people. Think those two things are related? She is cutting loose and getting very friendly, which is obvious as she is pawing all the guys. Erik says that she gets very caressing and has no boundaries. Being drunk and sexually uninhibited with no boundaries never got a girl in trouble before so I'm sure Traci has nothing to worry about.

Then she starts totally hitting on Ron. She tells him… well slurs to him, "if I weren't engaged I would engage in something with you, but I can't because I'm committed and I'm loyal. My fiancé won't let me do that, but if he did, I would." She accused him just last episode of being stinky, so apparently she's reevaluated his charm. Vanilla interviews that if he were her fiancé he would dump her and what she says is just not right. Great, Vanilla is making sense. I hear hoof beats, so it must be the horses of the apocalypse.

I was watching this with my fiancé and he agreed that telling someone you'd sleep with them if you weren't engaged doesn't win you any fidelity points. Also, sleeping with Ron Jeremy is pretty high on the list of "things fiancés rarely let you do." If I see any more similarities between him and Vanilla I'm calling off this wedding. Fair warning.

Various shots of Traci drunk and throwing glasses so they smash to the floor just because she can. She runs after Vanilla, play-fighting with towels and pillows, and he lets it go, curious as to how long she could keep it up. An hour. During much of this her breasts had completely popped free of her top, keeping the pixelation crew busy.

Ron interviews about Traci's moods, as she can be so nice and mellow, and then suddenly she switches and goes crazy. Cut to shots of her jumping all over Ron, pushing her breasts in his face, and pouring a bottle of water over his head as he sits on the couch. Perhaps her loved ones should plan an intervention. Traci is extremely curious about Ron's penis and is trying to see it by yanking down his pants in the kitchen. Stop that, people are going to have to eat in there later! Ron says she wants to see his penis and he wants to see her breasts, so he'll trade her a bottom for a top. Never the greedy man, he will settle for seeing just one. Genitals for boobie. What could be more fair? Seriously, isn't it amazing his interest in them hasn't waned?

Traci is in no condition to negotiate, though, as she is busy turning a drunken cartwheel that ends in what looks like a rather painful fall. Not as painful as this pretense is, though. We saw him see her when she was popped out of her top running through the house. It's so cute when porn stars act all shy and demure.

Next week they get a visit from a medium, which is of course against Tammy Faye's religion, so controversy ensues. They will also put on a play, and there will be more drinking. I'm shocked, how about you? In case you missed this scintillating piece of reality theatre, it's being rerun Thursday evening. As for me, I won't be watching this episode again, and you can't make me. I'll see you next week.

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  • Posts

    • GreenBeans


      2 hours ago, Maggie Mae said:

      There is literally no reason to stop and reset during a cross country flight. It's just making the travel that much longer instead of going all at once.

      This! It’s not like the traveling itself would have taken days. They could have simply made their connection and would have been at the final destination a couple hours later. The way they organized it now probably means they had to get all their luggage, their cats and everything they brought hauled to whatever family they are visiting. And then in a couple of days they will have to pack up again, get to the airport, check their bags and cats again and go through security again. So they have two days of travel instead of one.

      It can make sense to split up a long journey into two days. We did that on the way back to Germany from our vacation in New Zealand. It’s two eleven hour flights back to back. We pulled through on the way there (which worked surprisingly well!), but on the way back the cheapest flight was a connection with an overnight stay at Seoul. So we did that. Arrived in the evening, took a taxi to a close and cheap-but-decent airport hotel, got a good night’s sleep and then got on the next 11 hour flight the next morning.

      But yeah, for two 3-4 hour flights? Makes no sense at all!

      • Upvote 2
    • KWLand


      How old are Shalom and Justin’s kids?  I can’t imagine leaving my kids when their other parent is dying.  The poor daughter who was down with him.  It just doesn’t seem like they are thinking about the kids, especially if the kids are too young to understand.  I don’t image Mike and Debi being support for the kids emotionally during this.  I’m sure Shalom is torn and she was raised essentially being taught husband is above all.  Someone in those kids lives are hopefully there to hold them.

    • patsymae


      On 7/11/2024 at 8:22 PM, Audrey2 said:

      I just think of a first grade class I subbed for this year with Aiden, Kayden, Grayden, and Zayden.

      was Braden absent?

      • Haha 1
    • Ozlsn


      Ok, I am not going to say I haven't read the left leaning conspiracy theories about this shooting, even if I'm trying to hold off until we have more verified information.

      But I don't get where this "Biden sent the shooter" idiocy is coming from because seriously here? He has an actual job, with stuff to do etc. Now if you wanted me to believe Steve Bannon sent the shooter I would be more receptive, mostly because it's the kind of out there theory I can get behind.

    • Ozlsn


      3 hours ago, Bassett Lady said:

      I don’t mind that they want to see people they love, but why the prevarication

      Doesn't fit in with the "we need a safe and stable home across the country " grifting theme. I don't think people would have donated as much if they knew there was a planned holiday in the middle, and I am wondering how many donors are now side-eyeing the hell out of them. Because that wasn't a small omission there, it was strongly implied that both flights were sequential and necessary to get to where they are planning to live.

      I swear if it turns out they've moved two suburbs away in Seattle... I will probably laugh. I doubt this is the case - why fly the cats? - but part of me is expecting to find out they've moved to Salem, Oregon, or Sacramento.

      • Upvote 2

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