Celebrities on reality shows have become the butt of plenty of jokes. We see how they go to fancy yacht parties and serve house arrest in mansions and judge them as out-of-touch with reality. But now there’s a new trend in reality TV to try and reverse that image.
In the fall, the CW is debuting H8R, a show where celebrities confront the regular people who hate them and teach them a valuable lesson about how normal celebrities really are. And now CBS is bringing out Same Name (premiering Sunday at 9pm), where celebrities trade places with ordinary Americans who happen to have the same name.
The idea is that the celebrities will get a greater appreciation for ordinary people while the regular folks get a chance to experience the high life. Unfortunately, the result is far from good.
Instead, we learn that celebrities have a lot of work to do and earn every one of the millions of dollars they make while the celebrities get to marvel at how regular people live, give them some money, then leave.
In the premiere, Baywatch star David Hasselhoff swaps places with an earnest and warm-hearted southerner burdened with the same name. When the un-famous Hoff travels to fancy California, he eats sushi and meets some rabid Hoff fanatics, all while meeting with business managers and seeing how much the real Hoff is in the road, away from his family. That half of the episode might earn the Hoff some sympathy.
But then we spend most of the premiere with the famous Hasselhoff acting like a spoiled Hollywood stereotype, in awe of anyone who does manual labor while complaining that the shower isn’t big enough for him to fit in. The height of the class distinction comes when the Hoff is offered a Pop Tart for breakfast, and he acts like a caveman discovering fire. “It’s been like 20 years since I had a Pop Tart,” he says.
Sure, the Hoff claims to learn a valuable lesson about how hard it is for ordinary Americans, but Same Name feels more like P.R. rehab for celebrities than a documentary on to widening socio-economic class gap in America.
Maybe I was hoping for more than a one-hour advertisement for how great the Hoff is, but Same Name is the kind of show that’s only interested in the most superficial issues without delving deeper into the psyche and causation of class distinction. On the bright side, if you want to see the Hoff cackle maniacally while attending a Hasselhoff family reunion, this is the perfect show.
(Image courtesy of CBS)