Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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For the Love of God: Stop the Annoying Rhyming Shit on NEXT

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 5, 2007

Some matters require divine intervention

MTV’s non-music related programming has been a bone of contention with me ever since back in ’97 or so, the first time I had to suffer through a video-free weekend ‘coz they were doing some stupid Road Rules marathon all Saturday and Sunday or something. And as the years have progressed and the non-music programming has gradually taken a greater and greater majority of space on the airwaves, I’ve only hardlined in my stance. Plenty of reasonable people are suckers for shows like My Super Sweet 16 or Laguna Beach, and they probably have good reasons, but in general principle, I don’t fuck around with that shit–guilty pleasures, maybe, but for me it’d just be all guilt and no pleasure.

The one exception to this rule is NEXT (and to a lesser extent, most other MTV dating shows–Room Raiders, Date My Mom, Remote Control). On the whole, MTV offers a truly fascinating perspective on the concept of romantic courtship–which, if you grow up following MTV as blindly as I did as a kid, would probably teach you that to be worth dating, a perspective mate should:

  • Have an utterly spotless room that gives away absolutely nothing of his or herself, especially if they have any sort of extravagant or unusual underwear
  • Be willing to sit in front of a TV and watch live video of you going out with two hand-picked suitors while they do their damndest to try to romance you away from your current significant other
  • Be exceptionally talented at flirting with one or both of your parents
  • Be versatile enough to pass a variety of arbitrary and ultimately meaningless challenges in order to prove their devotion to your interests and to win a second date with you

And if the sociology of that doesn’t fascinate you for some reason, you also get to see beautiful people (well, on a good episode anyway) of one or both sexes attempting to awkwardly romance one another in the space of an hour.

Now, in case you’ve managed to avoid NEXT up until now–and much to my surprise, just about everyone I know (everyone who watches TV, anyway) has admitted a weakness for this show–the format is as follows. The show follows two lucky contestants–each given about fifteen minutes of airtime–as they test up to five other contestants as potential boyfriends or girlfriends, all but one of whom chills on a bus while the other takes a number of tests that MTV for some reason considers a “date,” usually geared to that person’s interests (a dog nut made his prospectives pick up his dog’s shit, an arty chick made her prospectives eat sushi, etc.), and based on their performance, or other qualities deemed deficiencies by the main contestant, they can be “Nexted,” where the date is instantly ended and the next prospective date begins. The show ends when the main contestant finds a prospective that he or she likes enough to go on a second date with, and the prosp. can either agree to the next date or take some money instead (a dollar for every minute they’ve spent on the date–it’s exceedingly rare, but extremely rewarding, to see someone choose this option).

Alternately the best and worst thing about NEXT though, is how canned so much of them are. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as to say that NEXT is scripted, but it’s certainly at least planned in various parts–contestants are likely prodded beforehand to come up with witty rejoinders to deliver instantly should they be Nexted, and admissions of defeat for back on the bus once they are done so. Not to mention catty bus chatter, a fixture of the show surprisingly regardless of gender–when one of the contestants leaves for their date, the attitude immediately switches from “YEAH!! GO GET ‘EM!! SCREW THAT CHICK / DUDE!!” to “Oh my god, can you believe what that guy/girl was wearing? (S)he’ll be back here in no time!

Now, this is all well and good–even part of the show’s charm, if you watch it long enough, which happens pretty often–but there’s a problem. NEXT just couldn’t leave well enough alone, and they added a narrator, who provides running commentary on the dates and the contestants–I want to say it’s MTV VJ SuChin Pak, and I’m going to say it is because it certainly sounds a lot like, but I could be wrong. Which might not be so bad in itself, except that MTV also decided it would be a good idea if the narration always rhymed.

So let’s say Paul was out on a NEXT date with Jenny, and Jenny deemed him too short for any sort of long-term relationship. SuChin would then say something like “Jenny decided to end things with Paul / Because he didn’t meet her requirements for being tall!” Or if Kelly had just proposed a second date to Mike, but MTV wanted to build suspense before cutting to a commercial break, SuChin might then say something like “Will Mike choose a second date with Kelly? / Or will he throw her out flat on her belly?” It makes you wonder if MTV automatically rejects contestants named Faroukh or Esmerelda or whatever.

And the really sad thing is that these examples I just made up are actually less cringe-worthy than a whole lot of rhymes actually featured on the show. I was watching last night when a girl got instantly Nexted because she looked like Violet, the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Said SuChin, “X and X was payed no regard / Because she looked like Violet Beauregarde!” Even ignoring the rhyming of “regard” with “regarde,” who the fuck knows or cares what Violet’s last name is in Willy Wonka? The contestant dude certainly didn’t. In the amount of time it took MTV to Wikipedia that chestnut, I’m sure they could’ve planted a tree, or helped an old lady cross the street or something. C’mon.

Now, I think I get what MTV is going for with this. They want the rhyming narration to cast a sort of fairy tale-type quality over the show, to make it seem more magical when the two characters get together. But really, no one watches this show to be inspired by the power of true love–I’ve only seen one NEXT hookup I ever found legitimately touching, and that was probably just because one of the contestants looked like a goth Avril Lavigne. People watch NEXT because they want to see the ridiculous tasks these people put each other through, they want to see the vicious bus gossip, they want to see arrogant assholes get cut down to size, and they want to hold out hope that this week, maybe someone’ll actually take the money and leave the contestant looking like a total jerk-off.

And really, the rhyming shit just gets in the way of those thrills, raising the “guilt: pleasure” ratio to potentially unstable heights. Please, SuChin, give it a rest, before I can officially only watch MTV between the hours of 4:00 and 9:00 AM.

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2 Responses to “For the Love of God: Stop the Annoying Rhyming Shit on NEXT”

  1. kyle said

    the remaining last names of the golden ticket winners are bucket, teevee, gloop, and of course, salt.

  2. […] Now, I’m not saying it should be taken from the show directly. You couldn’t have the cutesy formatting, the stupid fucking rhymes, the canned dialogue, none of that stuff. This is the big screen we’re talking about now, and that shit don’t fly. As a matter of fact, I think the movie would be most effective if it was approached as a beginnings-of flick, showing how NEXT came to be. Here’s how I see it: […]

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