A critique of faux-reality t.v. might sound a bit trite and begrudging nowadays. Unless you’re some kind of neo-Luddite, most of us have come to terms with our fascination with reality shows, even when their events are obviously staged or exaggerated. Reality television helps give our minds a rest from words like “trite” and “neo-Luddite.” I still get excited about new episodes of The Voice, even though I can’t bear to watch anything with Gordon Ramsay in it for more than 30 seconds.
Which is why, perhaps, the first five minutes of Nobody Loves You feel a bit worrisome– are we about to get preached to about the evils of reality television?
But never fear! Nobody Loves You, or NLY as the show’s resident twitter expert calls it, has all the heart, fun, and spectacle of a great musical. And the best part is that its critique of reality television is only as deep or complex as you let it be.
Jeff is a smartypants PhD student writing a dissertation on ontology, or the philosophical study of reality. His girlfriend Tanya gets frustrated with his academic views, particularly when it comes to her favorite reality television show, “Nobody Loves You.” Tanya breaks up with Jeff, announcing that she’s going to audition to be a contestant on NLY. Jeff also auditions, seeing the chance to win Tanya back, but when he finds that he has a spot on the show and she does not, he remains on the show as research for his diss. He aims to prove the unreality of reality tv, and in doing so, becomes a fan favorite, as well as the favorite of a production assistant named Jenny.
NLY feels a bit banal at first but once focus turns away from Jeff’s relationship problems towards the reality show within the show, it finds its hilarious, and often genuine voice. Jenny and Jeff’s relationship feels fun and unique, as portrayed by their love song listing the things they hate. The supporting characters are all excellent and hilarious. The contestants begin their NLY stay as stock characters but they quickly develop individual wants and needs so that you truly care about what happens to each one. The show’s host, played by Heath Calvert, left me replaying some of the show’s funniest moments in my head all day. Rory O’Malley also steals his scenes as twitter fan Evan. You can watch him perform a song written almost entirely in twitter lingo here.
If you didn’t clip on that link, you really should. Got it?
Because honestly, I really shouldn’t continue unless you click it.
Okay, now that we’ve got that clear…
Nobody Loves You is fun, it’s fresh, and it’s reflective of today’s obsessive fan culture. For example, is reality t.v. functionally similar to musical theater in a willing suspension of disbelief sort of way? Are reality tv fans inherently aware of its superficiality, and if not, is that something to be worried about?
But nevermind that, because you can still enjoy the show without all that thinking. Now go watch that Rory O’Malley clip or I SWEAR TO GOD…