« In the News... | Home | Young Upstarts »

April 22, 2004


I Always Wanted to be a Rock Star: Extreme Makeover vs. Made

All O.C. fans* face the same important issue on Wednesday nights at 10. You're still coming down off your Peter Gallagher high, and it's too early to stick in the Crest White Strips and head for bed. But don't fret - Amy's Robot LLC pays me the big bucks to help you make an informed decision between ABC's Extreme Makeover and MTV's Made.

Extreme Makeover is a plastic surgery fantasy camp that borders on the unwatchable. This week's episode featured a "shy loner" named Peter, who in merely two months (or one hour in tv land) became a strong-chinned and heavily made up American Idol contestant. The new, improved Peter then "revealed" himself to his friends and family, electric guitar awkwardly held aloft, and exclaimed "I've always wanted to be a rock star....and now I look just like one!" (emphasis mine)

A true American consumer, Peter has confused looking like a rock star (even of the Clay Aiken variety) with actually being a rock star. Never mind that ABC's producers didn't hook him up with a recording contract, or pay for singing lessons, or even let him perform in front of his family and friends.

For those unfamiliar with MTV's show, Made takes a kid with a dream (to be a cheerleader, a football star, a beauty queen), and gives him or her a coach and a month to make that dream come true. The differences are: you probably get a haircut and highlights, but no actual surgery; and the Made kids have to work for it.

Scott Alpert, the most recent makeover on Made, was also a "shy loner" (albeit one in a Slayer t shirt). Scott's dream was to become Mr. North Star, his NJ high school's mascot. Rather than spending a month recovering from neck liposuction, Scott practiced his guitar, worked out, and actively made new friends. At his school spirit competition, Scott not only impressed in a handsome tux, but also got a standing ovation when he performed one of his original songs.

Now, I can't deny it's probably a boost to your high school popularity level to have an MTV camera crew following you around, but the acceptance of Scott's classmates seemed a lot more genuine than that of Peter's family and friends. While the kids at Scott's school were getting to know the real Scott, Peter's supporters were essentially welcoming a heavily bronzed stranger into their lives. Forgive me for my wide-eyed Pollyanna outlook, but I can't help thinking it's more satisfying to be recognized for yourself ("You're so talented!") than your surgically altered features ("Your nose looks great!").

On a totally subjective level, Peter came across as a little creepy and desperate, while Scott seemed like a genuinely nice kid who was finally able to come out of his shell. Scott's transformation goes deeper, and I've no doubt it will last longer. Peter's teeth may get stained again, his hair may fall out, and the neck fat could always come back. But Scott Alpert can be confident that if he has the possibility to change his own life, with a little effort.

And hey, if you still want to appeal to ABC's casting directors for that Brazilian butt lift, don't let me stop you.

* and by "all", I mean "me"

categories: TV
posted by Emily at 11:37 PM | #