Will VH1’s reality division ever stop reaping dividends from the uniquely renewable resource that is Flavor Flav? The onetime hype-man powered one season each of The Surreal Life and its spinoff, Strange Love, of course, but it’s the two seasons of Flavor of Love that stand as his signature contribution to the network; that show, in turn, has spawned two further spinoffs, the sublime I Love New York and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. But that’s old news. Sad to say, it seems VH1 has reached the bottom of the Flav barrel at last. Their latest spinoff of a spinoff of a spinoff features neither Flav himself nor any members of the cast of his previous shows. No, this summer’s Rock of Love is making an audacious attempt to replace Flav—focusing instead on aging Poison frontman Bret Michaels’ search for what we’ll call, for lack of a better phrase, true love. Rock won’t hit the airwaves until this Sunday, but VH1 is streaming the first episode in full right now on its website. Click here to check it out for yourself, then see our first impressions after the jump.
First things first: At the very least, Rock of Love doesn’t overdose viewers with Poison. The grating hair-metal clamor which accompanies the opening montage provides an initial scare, but luckily, after a half-hearted attempt to convince viewers that Poison is still a relevant and/or classic band (“20 million records sold!”), the show’s music directors give up and go for whimsical Flavor of Love-style orchestral themes. Good call.
On to more pressing issues. How’s Michaels? Well, he’s self-impressed, super-sleazy, sorta dim—in other words, everything you need from the star of a show like this. And he’s just bursting with borderline offensive quotables. Hey, Bret, what’s your everyday routine like? “I got to hook up with some of the most beautiful girls in the world!” (Cue squealin’ solo.) Ah. So, uh, why are you doing a VH1 show? “Rock’n’roll is an insatiable bitch goddess,” he explains, “but I love her, and I’m just looking for that one woman in my life to participate in that threesome.” If that doesn’t win ’em over, I don’t know what will.
Sadly, the show’s other participants aren’t nearly as fun. Michaels’ head of security, “Big John,” is a charisma-free lunk, and the 25 women vying for Michaels’ heart aren’t much better. I mean, the show’s producers didn’t even bother to give them nicknames! (At least, I think they didn’t—is “Rodeo” a real name?) Most of them fall neatly into boring, exploitative stereotypes: the vacant stripper (in several varieties), the angry person of color (one woman starts screaming about how she’ll “f— that b—- up”), and so on. Aside from their inexplicable desire for Michaels, these women display almost no legit personality. The one contestant who does anything remotely interesting is the one named Tiffany, and I’m crossing my fingers that she’s some sort of plant. If Tiff’s excessive drinking and all-around self-destructive behavior are for real, well, yikes.
Still, just when I was getting ready to switch this thing off, Michaels saved the day. One minute he’s talking about his genitals again (“I gotta be honest with you, I was having a lot of emotions pouring through my member”); the next, he’s having an actually-sorta-poignant chat with one of the women about his own lifelong battle with diabetes. And then he’s back to bemoaning the fact that a contestant “beat [his] penis to a pulp.” It’s well nigh impossible to look away from the ongoing trainwreck that is this man’s non-interior monologue. Halfway through the show, Michaels tells us that his rock star life “has absolutely been a kick-ass ride, but now I want to get away from the craziness.” Good luck, pal—in spite of all my better judgement, I know I’ll be watching you try.
What did you think, PopWatchers? Will you be tuning in to see who Michaels winds up with? And if not this dude, then who would make a better replacement Flav?