The Hard Times of RJ Berger, relentlessly promoted during last night’s MTV Movie Awards as only MTV knows how to do (that’s pretty much a compliment), is the channel’s latest attempt at a scripted sitcom, as opposed to its reality sitcoms such as Jersey Shore and Super Sweet 16. There’s a difference, though: Where those shows take freak characters and lavish them with the love of non-judgmental camera carresses, RJ Berger wants us to laugh derisively at every character, including RJ Berger.
The new show was a mixture of attention-getting, badly-phrased crudity (“be still my beating balls” — dude, that doesn’t even make sense), cheap racism (“the Japanese mouth isn’t designed to handle that size”), and contempt for anyone in front of the camera. Berger’s friends are just horny idiots (who wants to be around a girl like Lily, who wears a T-shirt bearing the legend, “Want U Inside Me”?); his parents lascivious lushes (oh, Beth Littleford, you deserve better than this).
RJ himself is a sweaty twerp without the wisecracks and braininess that have redeemed such characters at least as far back as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Even his nerdiness is off: The kid is just now getting around to reading the comic-book miniseries 52?) When the reason for this show’s existence was revealed — Berger’s pants-drop on the basketball court — the basic, “Okay, I’ll buy into this premise” factor for a show to sustain itself week after week simply evaporated. I couldn’t believe the notion that, far from being humiliated for being different, RJ is now the object of envy and jealousy.
You might say I didn’t care for Berger because I’m out of its target demo. But that’s as condescending as if I were to write that teenagers can’t appreciate The Wire or Sons of Anarchy because they’re not old enough. And by now, no matter what age you are, the ceaseless procession of vulgar comedies since American Pie has given all of us a basis for comparison for the quality of a good d – – – joke. By the standards of that history, The Hard Times of RJ Berger is pretty lame.
The show has exactly one subject: Berger’s penis. The lengthy “this season on The Hard Times of RJ Berger” at the end of last night’s premiere revealed that it’s going to be one dong joke after another, unless the show does some growing.
Get it, growing? Heh-heh. RJ Berger would be a lot better if Beavis and Butthead were still around to comment on every scene, don’t you think?