August 13, 2005

When She's Good, She's Great

New York Times television critic is coming into her own. It's refreshing to find a critic who "gets" television. I loved her piece about Laguna Beach. Heffernan rightly points out that this reality show is the most beautifully shot program on television. Laguna Beach chronicles the lives of the big men and women on campus, the innest of the in-crowd. I can't recall ever seeing these deities in any form of entertainment, fictional or non-, where they weren't objects of disdain. You may decide that the "characters" in Laguna Beach are as creepy as water bugs, but it's fascinating to me to see a narrative from their point of view (especially this season, when the show's narrator is the queen B --and that doesn't stand for "bee"), Kristin. There is a sly and satirical eye, almost Austenian, in the direction and editing of LB, but it's never cruel or unfair.

The kids in Laguna Beach are rich and beautiful, self-absorbed and unfettered by concern about the greater world around them (the one socially concerned Laguna Beach denizen from last season is off to college). But they don't ask us to love them, only to be fascinated by them. And as much as I try to resist, they more than succeed at that. These high-school kids seem to be vastly more sophisticated than their Real World counterparts -- they aren't just richer, but seemingly from a different caste. While the Real Worlders act out to jockey for air time, the Laguna Beach kids would rather wear Keds than wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Gee, now I sound disdainful. If you haven't checked out Laguna Beach, and think you might be able to tolerate watching all the kids who tortured you in high school, do so. It's great television. (Monday nights at 10:00 P.M., rerun endlessly)

I remember when Sunday was "family night" on television. Now with Deadwood, Sex and the City, etc., no one will blink about the subject of today's review by our featured TV critic. Heffernan writes a hilarious review of the Sunday night's Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson. Despite her sheer top, evidently Anderson is frequently upstaged by her pal, Courtney Love, whose antics inspired this from Jimmy Kimmel: "If you're not on drugs, you've got problems."

It may not be your conception of family viewing on a Sunday night, but I wouldn't miss it.