From left: Tanya Grace, Brooke Villone, Anna Benson, Chantel Kendall, Jordana Lenz
Whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.
-- Brian O'Blivion, Videodrome
"Reality TV" is an oxymoron, because it is an entirely artificial construct, generated by the makers. We've got first-hand experience of this, since Mrs. SnakePit and the Snakepitette took part in a special mother-daughter edition of Room Raiders a few years ago. The supposed 'reality' was, in fact, a good deal more carefully choreographed than they want you to believe. It was with this permanently in mind that we viewed the first episode of Baseball Wives, the new 'reality' show from VH1 which premiered last night. And for the rest of the article, we'll take the quotes around 'reality' as read...
And that's the only way it's possible to view the show. I'd be very interested to hear from one of the participants directly, to describe how much was fabricated, either through judicious editing or directly instigated by the makers. For instance, the sequence where some of the girls strip down to their underwear and plunge into a pool at a night-club seemed very, very artificial, and if that wasn't a prompted display of wild abandon, I'd be very surprised. That's the spirit in which you really need to watch this. It's not reality, and it would be a mistake to think of it as such. it's a soap opera.
For instance, it will cut together footage of Scottsdale clubs, light rail trains (which go nowhere near Scottsdale clubs) and the bridge over Tempe Town Lake. Even the title is a work of fiction. Only half of the women are actually "Baseball Wives." There's two ex-wives and one who has never been married at all, but as portrayed here, is the creepy, borderline stalkerish ex-girlfriend of Nyjer Morgan - so clearly has dubious taste, if Tony Plush is her idea of a catch. She 'goes to lunch' with one of the other women... at the hotel where Morgan was staying in the playoffs... And bursts into tears when she sees the back of his head, bemoaning "I was with him for two losing seasons."
The odd thing is, speaking individually to the camera, each appeared more or less...human. But the rule seemed to be that, whenever N Baseball Wives are gathered together, their IQ = IQ of dumbest / N. Again, how much was the producers poking them with a stick is hard to say. One suspects the decision to confront Mrs. Matt Williams over what she allegedly said about the ex-Mrs. Jason Kendall was likely not spontaneous. As an aside, one wonders how Derrick Hall feels about the show, with the wife of his third-base coach described at various times as "fake", "slimy", a 'Stepford wife' and "a snake in the grass." Not quite promoting the team's family-friendly rep, is it?
Of course, MLB is absolutely, entirely, 110% unassociated with this project, to the extent that the wives were not even allowed to use any team names. For instance, the ex-Mrs. Mark Grace could only describe her husband as having played, vaguely, for 'Chicago', not being able to use the C-word to describe the team in question. The closest we got to major-league footage was Kris Benson taking a few hacks in a batting cage, and it was pretty clear that this is not going to be a series aimed at sports fans, any more than its predecessors Football and Basketball Wives were. This may explain why the D-backs' player reactions were universally negative:
- "The worst show I have ever seen." - David Hernandez
- "Well, that was a 'One and done'" - Barry Enright
- "Please know that as Baseball Wives starts tonight, that doesn't represent my wife...thank the Lord! :-)" - Paul Maholm, as retweeted by Zach Duke, with an "amen" tacked on.
And yet... As Enright also Tweeted, "Why is dumba** reality tv so addicting...?" and I think it's precisely because those shown don't represent Mrs. SnakePit [or, indeed, any wife I know].Taken as a trashy soap-opera, with a disclaimer about "any similarity to actual persons", it's kinda fun to watch bitchy bitches being bitchy,, and dropping enough bad language that at times, there was more frantic bleeping than in one of my happy Swedish techno mixes. Of course, if you ever watched The Ultimate Fighter, you'll know that cramming men together is every bit as much a recipe for childish tantrums and behavior.
We're already picking favorites: Anna Benson, genuinely seems not to give a damn, and would likely not have been invited to Matt Williams' house except for the purposes of the program. We particularly appreciated her views on fur, based on the idea if we didn't kill animals, cows would rampage into our houses and attacking us. Or something. [It's in the clip below, so maybe you can figure it out] Then there is Chantel Kendall, who seems to be trying to come back from a raft of issues, including substance abuse. I'm not sure hanging out with party girls while appearing on a reality TV show is quite the best approach to staying sober - must be one of the 12 Steps of which I was previously unaware. But as with Benson, there was less sense of a persona being played, as came across a great deal with some of the other participants.
Yes, it's all thoroughly dumb, cheesier than a stuffed-crust pizza, and we likely wouldn't watch if not for the local relevance, in both participants and locations. But much to my surprise, Mrs. SnakePit and I came to a communal decision to throw this onto the DVR regularly. I'm probably the only baseball person [save Craig Calcaterra] willing to admit they'll keep watching - but suspect a few others will quietly be doing the same.