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Feeling the Flavor

By Daniel Kahn

Section: Arts

October 13, 2006

This Sunday marks the end of the second season of one of the most glorious television programs ever created, Flavor of Love. Before you start thinking that the previous sentence was just an ironic statement about the declining state of American popular culture, let me clarify: I actually love Flavor of Love. By far the pinnacle of VH-1s seemingly never-ending stable of celeb-reality shows, Flavor is everything that an hour of mindless entertainment should be.

After the 90-minute finale this weekend, it will be sorely missed – and not just by me. People really do watch and enjoy this show. Not only is it VH-1s highest rated show ever (take that I Love the 80s!) but it generates heated conversation throughout our very campus.

Many of you might be shaking your heads in disbelief at the thought of Brandeis students, a generally intelligent and savvy group of entertainment consumers, lapping up every bit of trashy fun this show has to offer. I know a great number of people who are almost too embarrassed to admit to liking a show that makes no apologies for lacking a certain amount of class and quality. But now is not the time to hide our love of this guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Now is not the time to snicker at Flavor Flavs over-the-top fashion sense and propensity for bellowing his own name at the top of his lungs. No, my friends. Now is the time to stand up and debate what no politician or pundit has the guts or honesty to debate: Deelishis or New York.

For the uninitiated, heres a how we got to where we are today. After The WB cancelled The Surreal Life (picture The Real World but with washed-up celebrities and has-beens), VH-1 gave it a new life and it became a breakout hit in its third season, thanks in no small part to the unlikely pairing of Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen. Nobody in their right minds could have guessed that the diminutive clock-loving Flav, member of seminal rap group Public Enemy, and Brigitte, a 61 Danish action star, best known not for a string of 80s B-movies but for her brief marriage to Sylvester Stallone, would become romantically involved during the shows filming. Audiences loved seeing this odd couple together, complete with night-vision scenes of their under-the-covers escapades that featured closed-captioned moaning and lustful mutterings like Ohh, thats the spot (ick, but also, hee!). Accordingly, VH-1 followed their courtship with the dysfunctional and short-lived Strange Love. Things might not have worked out between the two, but Flav became a break-out star, and the network that gave him new life next gave him his very own Bachelor-style dating show.

And so, Flavor of Love was born and my life seemed complete. In its first season, Flav gave each girl a hilarious, and often intentionally-mispelled nickname (Hottie, Pumkin, Red Oyster) and asked the girls to stay at the end of each episode by presenting them with their very own clock necklace (Flav is never seen not wearing one himself). The best part of the show was the over-the-top diva New York. Between her cat-fighting with other girls, proclaiming she was going to win Flavs heart in week one, and the ridiculous sight of her doing her hair and makeup between drags of her ever-present cigarettes, it didnt get much more entertaining than New York (if you dont count appearances by her disapproving and giant-lizard-look-a-like mother). The pinnacle of the season was Pumkins elimination. Fed up with New Yorks antics, Pumkin let loose a wad of spit that found its way right onto New Yorks clown-like face. In the end, Flav chose the nice Hoopz over New York, but their relationship did not last and so Flav came back for another season.

Unfortunately, the second time around lacked the freshness and spontaneity of the previous season. The girls of the first season set the crazy bar pretty high, and the new contestants havent been able to reach that lofty perch. The premiere episode was promising, though, thanks in large part to one girls inability to hold her poop (Im not a TV encyclopedia, but Im guessing that would be the first time in the history of the medium that someone accidentally shat on the floor on a national broadcast).

But like a shot of much-needed adrenaline, Flav brought back New York. Having barely lost out last time, New York vowed that nothing and no one would stop her from claiming her man this time. And personally Id like to agree with the self-proclaimed HBIC (thats Head Bitch in the Crib, a fitting moniker if ever there was one). Flav is left to choose between her and the more benign, Hoopz-like Deelishis. While Deelishis seems more sincere than Hoopz and is certainly less offensive than New York, both in personality and looks (although what are those slug-like things that cover her back and shoulders? Exit wounds? Anyone?), Im really rooting for New York this time around. Besides having developed a surprising amount of weird affection for her, I think she and Flavs matching over-sized personalities are a good fit.

Despite wanting the best for Flav, Im really only looking out for my own happiness. Flav and VH-1 have both confirmed that this will be the last season of Flavor, even if things dont work out for Flav and whichever girl he picks. But if he chooses New York, I cant imagine a better Flavor substitute than a series following Flav and New York trying to make a life for themselves, and for maximum comedic possibilities, place them in white suburbia I can just imagine New Yorks future proclamations of being the HBIGCHead Bitch in the Gated Community.

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