True Life, a documentary series on the Music Televison MTV network, claims to offer “a window into the struggles, hopes, and dreams of young people.” Clearly the summary on it’s official website hasn’t been updated since the program’s début back in 1998, because this show sucks. It blows harder than Paris Hilton. Not that this should come as a surprise or disappointment, or anything of that sort, (after all it is on the same channel that gave us shows like these). I haven’t actually watched an episode in the longest time. Then again, the last time I was young enough to get away with watching something on MTV was the Chinese year of the rabbit. But still.
The series began by documenting the struggle of heroin addicts and family members of those who died by overdosing, and included an episode focusing on the death of Matthew Shepard, all within the first season. It has also given us classic moments like this one, from “True Life: I’m Getting Married,” which is my absolute favorite. Then suddenly the new millenium hit us, and we got “True Life: I’m Horny in Miami.” (As opposed to. . .what, being horny in Tulsa, where the goals are radically different?) Though having not been an avid or remotely consistent viewer of the show, and recognizing the great possibly for error, it seems that ever since then there’s a 50% chance the forthcoming episode will suck. You either come across “True Life: I Have An Eating Disorder,” or “True Life: I’m On Vacation.” Every time I’ve come across this show, its subject is something ridiculous like “True Life: I’m Wasted,” or “True Life: I Have Embarrassing Parents 2.” ( I can’t imagine what they would’ve possibly left out from the first one).
I’m not saying that I have a stick so far up my ass that all I’d like to see on TV is this serious, informative programming. Nor am I unwilling to admit that even this will not stop from me watching these kinds of shows (I’m a sucker for reality TV hot-messery! It all started with The Slap Heard ‘Round the World). Yes, sometimes we definitely need a break, or a distraction from all the depressing shit we learn is going on in the world, and these shows are good for that. But, watching “True Life: I Stutter,” and “True Life: I Overslept” (OK, so the latter is made up but is still not too far from reality. . .) is not going to do that. It only puts me in danger of killing brain cells.
Not every bullshit moment in life needs to be documented and least of all, broadcast on national fucking television. If the last couple of seasons are truly supposed to be indicative of the struggles young people face today, we are all seriously fucked. Not that we’re not all fucked in some way now. Maybe we’re screwed now, but in the future when all the youth of America are out in the real world, we’ll definitely be fucked. Especially if the height of their ethical dilemmas concern summer romances, and “digital drama” (as have been the subjects of previous episodes). It’s pretty obvious, based on the titles of each show, that those involved with the making of True Life are quickly running out of topics to document. So here are a few suggestions for future seasons that are just as m i n d-n u m b i n g l y s t u p i d as the ones they’ve shown on TV.
We begin with “True Life: I’m Living With Gingivitis,” where we meet Britney, a sophomore in college who is diagnosed with advanced gum disease due to a prolonged, neglected case of gingivitis. Watch as the cameras follow Britney to a visit with the dentist, who gives her a professional cleaning and reverses the damage caused to her gums. (With a special appearance by fellow yuckmouth Jessica Simpson). Next, in “True Life: I’m Getting A Twitter,” we watch the powerful journey of Eric, a 16-year old from Pasadena, CA as he enters into the twitterverse. Will his parents accept him now that he’s a twat (that is, someone who twitters, of course)? What will his first tweet be? Is he going to have more followers than Jesus Ashton Kutcher? : : Cue cheesy dramatic / inspirational music here: : Finally, we end the season with “True Life: I’m Next in Line At Starbucks,” where John is trying to score with a female friend, Jenna, by impressing her at Starbucks but can’t remember the details of her order. Did she want a grande, 2 pump vanilla, non-fat, extra hot latte or was it a 5 shot venti, 2/5th decaf, ristretto shot breve with whip, caramel drizzle on top, free poured, 4 pump mocha?! The pompous asshole in front of him has just paid for his holyEthos Water and scone and now it’s John turn to ask for his date’s highly overpriced drink. The barista is looking at him, the blenders are waiting, the milk is foaming, but will he like totally recover from this memory block and introduce her to something from their secret menu, or end up with the poor man’s latte? Stay tuned for the next episode of this Emmy Award winning series. It’s powerful. It’s real. Unfortunately, this is true life.
(Don’t forget to catch “True Life: I Have Dandruff” on MTV. Check your local listings.)