Surreal Life
Ah, chemistry. I hated it in high school but I love it on The Surreal Life. Not every cast has worked. But if the first episode of the new season is a harbinger of drama to come, this may be the most addictive edition yet. As observed by Florence Henderson, aka Mrs. Brady, aka Dr. Flo, the cast's on-call guidance counselor (she's a real-life hypnotherapist), the house is filled with some strong personalities: Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille, who sounds like a cross between Bob Goldthwait and my super-Jewish Long Island aunt (come to think of it, he used to look like her, too, when he wore makeup back in the '80s); Playboy hottie Andrea Lowell, who insists she's not a bimbo (even though she uses made-up words like "ominent"); Tawny Kitaen, aka the chick from that Whitesnake video; Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell, who, judging from his physique, should shut his mouth more often; Mr. Jefferson himself, the surprisingly shy Sherman Hemsley; former WWE Tough Enough winner Maven Huffman (who joined the housemates after winning the "15 More Minutes of Fame Reality Hunk Pageant"); and the fierce Alexis Arquette, transgendered sister to Rosanna, Patricia and David and a fabulous, self-dubbed "actor-ess" in her own right (oh, how different Transamerica would have been if Hollywood had had the guts to cast an actual transgendered person in the lead). Alexis is hands-down the most outrageous person in the house (and it has nothing to do with what's between her legs — more on that below). A random sampling of her comments:
  • On discovering that the cast would have an on-call therapist: "I'd rather have to deal with Hitler every day."
  • On her brother David's famous wife, Courteney: "I love having Cox in my family."
  • Her first impression of her housemates: "Something tells me that Andrea knows her way around a dildo."
  • During a girl-to-girl chat with Andrea: "I'm removing my genitalia and turning it into a vagina... I have a very large penis. That's just a little heads-up. It's your last chance."

But Alexis isn't the only one with a big mouth (although she definitely boasts the whitest teeth):

  • C.C., fresh out of rehab, on sobriety: "When I'm not drinking, I sort of stay out of jail."
  • Tawny's rationale for inviting C.C. to sleep in the girls' room: "He's like a girlfriend — he would be so safe to sleep with."
  • Steve on C.C.'s new lease on life: "When I saw C.C. last, he looked like pavement."
  • Andrea wondering why Sherman seemed familiar: "How do I know the dark guy, you know, the tan one?"

Only Sherman is pretty quiet. And when he does speak, he's inexplicably subtitled! (Hello! He's speaking English!)

But what really makes this cast special is how they relate to — and will inevitably clash with — one another. Three are recovering addicts (C.C., Steve and Tawny) and three are avid partyers (Andrea, Alexis and Maven). And with Alexis' very being pushing people's buttons (I was very disappointed with Steve's initial, negative reaction to Alexis, although he came around once he saw that C.C. was down with her), I'm convinced that this is the reality show to watch. I fully expect to spit out whatever it is I'm drinking several times per episode.