Reality TV: Shear Genius or Madness?

I love Oreo cookies. Give me a stack and a glass of milk and I'm a happy camper. But after about, oh say ... 20, I'm done. No more Oreos. No matter how much I love them, I reach a point where I just don't want to see or taste another Oreo for a while.

Reality TV is a little like that for me. I love American Idol, Project Runway, Dancing with the Stars ... anything that involves competition and conflicting personalities. But every so often, I get a little stuffed.

Case in point: the new show premiering on Bravo this week, Shear Genius. Former Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith hosts this show pitting a "crop" of 12 hairstylists against each other in a battle over bobs and bouffants. Contestants who don't get "cut" and manage to "blow away" the judges will have a shot at being crowned a "Shear Genius."

Is it just me, or does it feel like Bravo is going a little overboard? I loved Project Runway but was a little skeptical when they came out with Top Chef. Would the same formula of fighting fashion designers work for competing chefs too? It did. But I was even more leery when Bravo announced Top Design. That show has not worked, if you ask me. Frankly, I can't relate. None of the rooms ever look that good or bad to me, and I can't figure out why one designer is chosen over another week after week. (Plus I hate judge Jonathan Adler's farewell line to losing contestants, "See you later, decorator." Did he get that from Martha Stewart?)

Now along comes this competition for barbers. The name is catchy, but big deal. Of all the industries in the world, none lends itself to stupid puns more than hairstyling. Just take a look at some examples: Hair Majesty. A Wild Hair. A Cut Above. (I'm not making these up, folks.) Breath of Fresh Hair. Hair's the Place. (These are right out of the phone book!) Shear Artistry. And my personal favorite: Hair Dot Comb.

As for the show itself, I'll be interested to see how the competitions are structured. One of my big gripes about Top Design is that, for the most part, the judging has been completely subjective. It really came down to whether the judges liked a room or not. And in several episodes, contestants who took big risks were not rewarded for their creativity or ingenuity. Will it be the same on Shear Genius?.

At least on a show like Top Chef there are some tangible standards. The chef made enough food, or didn't. The eggs were overcooked, or they weren't. Will there be the same definite elements about hairstyling? Will we be able to look at a haircut and say, one way or

the other, that it's too short or too long?

Oh well. Nothing to do but "watch what happens." I better get out the bag of Oreos.

The series premiere of Shear Genius airs Wednesday, April 11th at 11:00 pm on Bravo.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.