Is ''The Osbournes'' too depressing for TV? Last year they were wacky. But the family's recent woes make Liane Bonin wonder if season 2 will make for guilty, but not necessarily pleasant, viewing.
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The Osbournes
Credit: The Osbournes: Mark Weiss

Is ”The Osbournes” too depressing for TV?

Ah, it seems so long ago now, our age of ”Osbournes” innocence. Remember when Kelly and Jack would share a quiet dinner together, fondly hurling expletives at each other across the table? Or how Sharon would coo to her perpetually expulsive bulldog, ”Lola, you’re a s—head”? And don’t forget Ozzy (who always seemed dangerously close to having a little piddle on the carpet himself) delivering the perfect ”just say no” lecture: ”Look at me, for f—‘s sake.” Yes, those were the days.

But times have changed. The Osbourne family that returns to MTV on Nov. 26 has been bitch-slapped by bad luck. Sharon was diagnosed with colon cancer this summer. Ozzy, terrified by the prospect of losing his wife, crawled back into the bottle after years of sobriety. Suddenly ”The Osbournes” is looking more like a bummer episode of ”ER” than the silly, surreal romp we’d gotten used to.

Maybe the Osbournes are soldiering through with their usual potty-mouthed pluck, and we’ll be yukking it up over Lola’s latest eruption in no time. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The fishbowl existence of reality TV has clearly taken its toll. Sharon recently told Barbara Walters that she regrets ever inviting a camera crew into her home, complaining that she can’t even have a post-chemo puke without a cameraman on her back.

The pressure has gotten to the kids, too. As Kelly tells Teen People, ”All the crew is afraid of me. I keep screaming at them because I care more about my mom living and my mom being happy and my mom being stress-free than the money from the show.” Let’s hope MTV offers its crew combat pay.

With so much going wrong for the Osbournes, the prospect of watching the second season feels tantamount to renting Tommy Lee and Pamela’s sex tape: Part of you wants to see it, and part of you wants to scrub your skin off with Ajax for even thinking about it. Ozzy’s shaking and stumbling aren’t so funny when we know he’s drowning his terror in booze, and even the most hard-hearted ”Jackass” fan would find it hard to find the humor in a cancer-stricken woman heaving up her guts.

But losing the show’s natural laugh track isn’t the real problem. We may never see the footage, but just knowing that Kelly was begging the camera crew to leave her ailing mom the f— alone makes our passive viewership begin to feel like an active, almost indecent, violation of privacy.

Yeah, I know, it’s not like MTV put a gun to the Osbournes’ heads or anything. The family certainly isn’t shying away from the spotlight, either: Sharon’s well enough to plan for her own TV chat show next year. Some have even speculated that the rocker mom’s on-screen recovery will give reality TV a much-needed dosage of grit (as well as inspire a few moms and dads to get colonoscopies or, after watching Ozzy’s tumble off the wagon, enter Alcoholics Anonymous).

I really hope that’s the case. But if this season starts to feel like an episode of ”Days of Our Lives,” I’m following Kelly’s orders and getting the f— out.

What do you think about the new season of ”The Osbournes”?

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