VH1 began its existence as a music video channel for people who were too old for Madonna and Bon Jovi. It now devotes much of its time to reality shows about people who were kind of famous several decades ago (Chris Knight), a little less famous more recently (Flavor Flav), and only famous because of other reality shows (Tiffany "New York" Pollard, Adrianne Curry). And it's working: VH1 is now among the top ten cable networks in primetime for the 18-49 year-old demographic.
So we're getting more of the same: old VH1 personalities in new shows, and new personalities in shows that already seem old. VH1 released a development schedule last week that calls for four new "celebreality sitcoms" to premiere later in the year. And while the word celebreality is an abomination, at least by referring to the shows as sitcoms they're acknowledging that the only "real" thing about these reality shows is that the sitcom stars are now playing themselves.
Two of the new shows feature old VH1 celebreality (oh dear, they have me using the word now) stars in new environments. With the Hulk/Linda Hogan marriage a shambles, another season of Hogan Knows Best was not in the offing, but daughter Brooke -- she of the mahogany tan, sad little singing career, and increasingly plastic body -- can't be gotten rid of so easily. Brooke Hogan Knows Best follows its title character into the bad wide world, which means Miami, as she continues to try to make it in music. She's equipped with two roommates and, no doubt, the traditional number of boyfriends and music biz handlers. It's hard to see Brooke as being interesting enough to carry a show, but I would have thought the same of Lauren Conrad and that's worked out pretty well.
New York Goes to Hollywood details Ms. Pollard's attempt to make it as a legitimate actress. She appeared on Nip/Tuck a little while back, though she played herself. (Actually, she played herself on a fictional reality show within the fictional world of Nip/Tuck: M.C. Escher himself couldn't have kept it straight.) Can she really do anything other than play herself? And given how well VH1 is working out for her, why should she even want to? At any rate, New York is never far from drama, so this could have some diverting moments. There's no sign that "Tailor Made," her most recent true love, is still in the picture, or that she's ever going to do the dating show bit again. Pity.
From out of the 1980s, just like Bret Michaels -- but X-rated rather than R-rated -- comes Luther Campbell, former scourge of decent society as leader of 2 Live Crew, the Miami rappers best remembered for "Me So Horny." Luke's Parental Advisory sounds like VH1's attempt to clone Father Hood, E!'s Snoop Dogg show. Campbell's adult-oriented side will be contrasted with his role as the father of two teenagers and the fiance of a lawyer named Kristin. Will us love him long time? We'll find out later this year.
The most surprising entrant to the VH1 reality armada -- surprising because it features someone whose career is still going reasonably well -- is comedian Margaret Cho. If the Luther Campbell program is analogous to Father Hood, The Cho Show is likely to be VH1's version of My Life on the D-List, which stars another gay-friendly comic with a bawdy persona and a family that provides a hilarious contrast. This one could be pretty good; Cho, a veteran of blogging, is not only truly funny but very willing to open up.
If nothing else, this announcement by VH1 proves that it's futile to wonder when the supply of celebs and near-celebs willing to do reality will end. Our appetite for such shows will be exhausted before that ever happens.