The A-List: New York

The tag line for The A-List: New York is "These Housewives have balls!", so perhaps you were expecting a topical and trenchant discussion of gay marriage. If so, look elsewhere.

Gay reality show granddad Queer Eye For The Straight Guy had a purpose, or at least a premise. Gay guys are into all that fashion and design crap, so let's send them out to do makeovers on straight guys! But at this point in TV history, reality shows are a genre unto themselves, and even a career path. (Boyle-ing Point, anyone?) All a producer needs to do is follow some people around with cameras and watch the sparks fly! Right?

Not really. I wasn't expecting The A-List to be Breaking Bad, but I thought it would at least be vaguely amusing. The show doesn't even achieve "so bad it's good" status. It just sucks. And you can't even say it sucks without feeling politically incorrect. You know, because they're gay. Which they tell you once every four seconds. In case you happen to forget.

I had thought I would get into a discussion of whether or not this show was good for the gays, and perhaps consider what a reality show about Jews would look like if it took a similarly stereotypical slant. "Matzoh Madness", featuring Schleppy Shpilkes, a Jew so cheap he'd go into a sewer drain just to get a penny. Look! Here he is doing just that! But really, why bother? Let's just do this thing.

So who's in the cast? First up is Reichen Lehmkuhl: actor, model, Amazing Race winner, former Air Force Captain and dater of Lance Bass. (As one of the boys later puts it, "slash slash slash.") He doesn't want his dalliance with Mr. Bass to "represent" him, which shouldn't be too tough since he seems to have a lot of irons in the fire (or balls in the air, if you prefer), designing a jewelry line and appearing in a play called My Big Gay Italian Wedding. Reichen is a handsome man and very, very dumb. He also dances like a straight guy; the choreographer for the play he's in tells us that "his biggest weakness is his rhythm." But he's A-list, baby.

Next up: Mike Ruiz, "one of the most in demand celebrity photographers in the world." His special talent is presenting celebrities "in a different context", which seems to involve things like dressing Kelly Rowland in a jacket with lion head shoulder pads. Is Mike A-List? "Yes. I go to the best parties, and I work with celebrities...I'm also passionate about gay charities." Mike is also vain -- "I have a healthy relationship with my appearance" -- but "isn't everybody on some level?" He's the most mature and responsible seeming fellow in the group.

Ryan Nickulas is a "salon owner". He's A-list because "the people I know, the things I do, are all A-list. Thus, I'm A-list." Ryan has a sassy assistant named T.J. and "you never know what's going to come out of T.J.'s mouth." Luckily it's only snarky comments. Ryan is the only one who is sort of a housewife; he tells us that he is legally married to a guy named Desmond -- his "Mr. Big." You know, like in Sex and the City? OMFG!

Austin Armacost has a name like a Mad Magazine character. He's also a former model who started working at 18, and was successful/pretty enough to land a relationship with Marc Jacobs. Austin broke the rules and invited a bunch of friends over to Marc's house, after which he was thrown out onto the street with his clothes in trash bags. (Marc requested that he... never... return. Sorry, wrong show.) After a hiatus and a period of drying out from too much partying, Austin "did a little growing" (ahem) and now wants to get back into modeling. His former agent tells him to lose weight. Austin says: "I'm hungry and I'm thirsty for the life I led. I was on the A-list but now I'm gonna do whatever I can to get back on it."

DerekLloyd Saathoff is introduced only as Derek, perhaps because his full name is too silly. He's a modeling agent who says that "some of the highest paid models are at my agency" but doesn't mention any of their names. He lives in Chelsea and "has a fabulous life." He is "obsessed with spray tanning" and luckily we get to see him being sprayed. He is friends with Lindsay Lohan AND Seann William Scott. OMFG!

The funniest character is Rodiney Santiago, a Brazilian model and Reichen's boyfriend of the moment. Mike describes Rodiney as "a cross between Antonio Banderas and Gisele Bündchen" but a better comparison is Hank Azaria's Agador Spartacus from The Birdcage. Except that this is an actual person, one who says stuff like this: "The first time I meet Reichen, I think was first [sounds like 'foost'] love. Because Reichen is the kind of guy to marry." "I'm feel alone." And so on.

If Jersey Shore is about "horrible people doing horrible things" The A-List is about stupid people doing stupid things. Everyone is completely vapid and materialistic, although we don't get to see much in the way of material goods. Even potentially dramatic plot points are poorly handled. For example, Rodiney is looking for a New York agent (it sounds like "asian" when he says it). It turns out that he needs to get a job or he might not be able to stay in the country. This seemingly important bit of information is said in a voice over while he and Mike are at a party; if you weren't listening closely you might have missed it. (Not unlike the Modern Family kiss, which I didn't notice either.)  It's also lazily structured, even among the lazy genre that is reality TV. At first every character talks about why they are A-list, but then that's forgotten in favor of speculation about who is/isn't/might be/could one day sleep with whom. The action is suspiciously contrived; Austin calls and interrupts Reichen and Rodiney in the hot tub making out. Because Austin and Reichen once had a fling, and he wants to get back together, and... OM... F... G...

Yawn. The biggest problem with The A-List: New York is that it's boring. Instead of this, Logo should do a gay version of The Apprentice. I'm sure Trump would be thrilled.

Stray observations:

  • "I don't need to have a 6-pack, washboard abs." "You do if you're gonna try and get back into fashion."
  • "You already have a raspy tone to your voice, so the cold just makes it sound better."
  • "Do you think they cut the song because I couldn't sing it?"
  • As much as I hate to admit it, Austin really does look fat compared to the rest of the cast. Oh! I'm such a bitch.
  • I learned two new words: "gaymous" and "tanorexic."
  • A commercial for tampons. Okay.
  • When Rodiney says L.A. it sounds like "lay".
  • Reichen goes to The Hamptons, not Fire Island. I guess he doesn't want to be a cliché.
  • The letters OMFG appear onscreen from time to time for no particular reason.
  • "He's in a play called My Big Fat Gay Italian Wedding." "There's no fat. Obviously there's no fat if it's gay."
  • When theater critics -- described as "bitchy queens" -- review Reichen's play, he gets panned. "They always say something nice about my body but they want to RIP on how convincing my role is on stage." Yes Reichen. It's called a review.
  • "You get so mad. So let's go to hot tub." The show stinks but Rodiney is awesome.

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