Toeing the line between obedience and rebellion is a part of growing up, and I did so until the long arm of the law decided it was back to the slammer, back to adolescent purgatory: my room — which is, ironically, a place I now go to voluntarily. I was always pardoned eventually, but I was also a repeat offender.
Watching MTV was one of my chosen methods of revolt, being somewhat interested in the featured music but more so drawn in by a myriad of educational programming that included “Cribs” and “Punk’d.”
My parents weren’t oblivious to the fact that this wasn’t exactly appropriate for someone who was only just beginning to learn cursive and perfect squares, so tuning into Carson Daly interviewing Paramore or Maroon 5 on “TRL” was like forbidden fruit. Because of that, I did so secretly, or so I thought.
As we all know, by the mid-2000s, broadcasting music was not exactly at the top of MTV’s priority list, but who was I to understand that at the time? “TRL” was only on some of the time, and I was too curious to not at least sample the rest of the garbage.
As a preteen, discovering how dating worked on a show like “Next” perplexed me. You showed up in what was akin to a Greyhound bus and competed with guys with professions like “firebreather” and “beat boxer in an acapella group.” The blue-collar, backbone-of-America type.
The show was created to work like a pre-smartphone Tinder, except everything happened in real time, face-to-face. Contestants strolled out of the bus to meet who they were competing for, lied, rattled off an inappropriate pickup line and hoped that their date “swiped right.”
Most wound up embarrassed, rejected and left to explain why they were 28 and still living in their parents’ basement. Even in 2007, there was no way out of this inquisition. The losers were sent off with a polite “NEXT!”
In the scenario that one of them was not next-ed and won the affection of the bachelor or bachelorette, they’d qualify for a stint on “Parental Control.” You didn’t have to be on one show to be on the other, but “Parental Control” was for couples. Of course, all of these shows were staged anyway, but that’s hardly important.
The show dramatized a nightmare for many people — your significant other’s parents hate your freakin’ guts and you having to watch with them as he or she goes on dates with other dudes or dudettes.
At the end of the episode, he or she decided if they wanted you back or not. This was obviously foolproof confirmation of a healthy relationship, being able to go through this trivial contest to prove your commitment to each other, but shockingly, it didn’t always work out with the original couple reuniting. Truly award-winning television.
By high school, I had run the MTV gamut, and “Jersey Shore” was the show to watch at the time. I’d also seen enough commercials to know everything about Kieffer from “Teen Mom” (or should I say, “KEEFA”), that Dr. Drew was the king of quacks and that Lauren “LC” Conrad had serious clout in the 90210. I probably could have cured cancer by now if I had retained the staggering amount of brain cells that were killed off during this period of my life, but hey, you learn from your mistakes. Mostly.
I have to admit that as far as mind-numbing entertainment goes, “Jersey Shore” was my favorite, and now it’s back on the air. And I will watch. That is all.