Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Chotime!

I like to think that I don’t watch a lot of the television equivalent of junk food. I only watch procedurals where characters come first (Psych, House, Bones, Law and Order: SVU). I don’t watch any sitcom that features a schlubby guy and a hot wife, or anything featuring bland, sudsy characters (Private Cashmere Jungle). The only E! show I watch is The Soup. The reality shows I follow tend to be more about people competing and fucking with each other (Big Brother, Survivor, The Mole) than full-out humiliation (The Littlest Groom). I do watch America’s Next Top Model, but in my defense, I only got sucked in via MTV repeats during the long, cold months when the writer’s strike left us without a lot of options. I’d successfully avoided watching the first 9 cycles, and then bam, suddenly I’m watching hour after hour of past cycles, my poor Tivo is crying out for mercy, and then I watch season 10 and Dominique teaches me what it is to hate, really hate, a reality show contestant….

Anyway. It’s not like I’m a television snob. When your favorite TV show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to snobbery. But I try to avoid the stuff that I think will actively destroy my brain cells, which is why I generally give VH1’s celebreality a wide berth. (With the exception of one shameful daylong marathon of a season of Flavor of Love, also during the writer’s strike. Please, writers, don’t ever leave us ever again, okay?) But I love Margaret Cho, so when I heard she was getting her own reality show, I knew I had to tune in. I’d previously tried watching Kathy Griffin’s reality show, but I discovered I only like KG in small doses. I have yet, however, to hit a wall when it comes with Margaret Cho. The woman is frigging fantastic, funny and ballsy and I admire the hell out of her. Still, I was scared the show wouldn’t do her justice. Worse, that it would make her look pathetic.

Well, I should have known better than to doubt Ms. Cho. It helps that it’s not totally candid camera. Cho tells ex-Gawkerite/current-Radarite Choire Sicha that the show is “is semi-scripted, all of the situations are scripted,” which means that “[i]t’s reality in a sense that this is my life and these are my real friends and family and Selena Luna is my real assistant, my real best friends. So it’s a sitcom starring real people. So things that happen are based in truth.” Which I can respect. I’ll take semi-scripted and funny over totally unscripted and dull as hell any day. (There is a third option, which is semi-scripted and dull as hell, and we call it The Hills.) And The Cho Show is indeed funny as hell. You know that a pistol like Margaret Cho is gonna have an equally wacky menagerie of friends and assistants, and the band does not disappoint. From wee, patient, and hilarious Selena Luna to bitchy catfighting stylists, the supporting cast of characters are as entertaining as the main event herself. Cho’s infamous parents make an appearance. They are, of course, not quite as wacky as Cho makes them out to be in her standup act – it’s called artistic license – but it’s easy to see that she hasn’t had to exaggerate that much. The show even leaves room for some sober, touching moments that show Cho’s all too real humanity.

If you don’t like Margaret Cho’s standup act, then you probably won’t like her show, either. But if you have a pulse and a functioning sense of humor, you should definitely tune in.

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