By Ken Tucker
Updated December 30, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST

When it comes to MTV reality shows, it’s crucial that the narrative structure imposed on them be solid, because the personalities they’re built around are less than fly-weight. Brody Jenner was immediately doomed in last night’s premiere of Bromance, stuck in a bro-schmo show whose pathetic premise is half-Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, half-The Pick-up Artist. Choosing from nine guys to become his new object of bromance, when you’ve already got a couple of perfectly good, creepy-leech “friends,” Frankie and Sleazy T? Who wants to watch desperate, sweaty losers suck up to Brody, when I assume most Brody fans would have been content to watch an hour of wealthy, sweaty loser Brody lowering and raising himself from his jacuzzi (how many times did they replay Brody easing in and out of that hot-tub last night?). I’ve got nothing against Brody–he’s clearly the kind of rich, good-looking lunkhead lots of Americans want to gaze upon–but it’s too bad he doesn’t have the brains to have objected to the concept of his show, because Bromance is the slow-dance of reality programming. (Oh, and who’s one of the producers? That Momma’s Boy, Ryan Seacrest. Everything this guy touches turns to tedious slime, doesn’t it?)

By contrast, The Hills spin-off The City had the good sense to surround doe-eyed, slack-jawed Whitney Port with the soft-glow lighting and swoony-romance pop music that makes watching Hills nonentities like Lauren and Heidi such a decadent dream. I was happy to see glimpses of people who have accomplished something in the world–and here I’m talking about Whitney’s new boss, Diane von Furstenberg, and Whitney’s old boss, Kelly Cutrone. (Really, I’d watch a Kelly Cutrone series–such blunt common sense! such tough friendliness!–but I suppose she’s considered too “old” for the idiot-demo MTV craves.) And I’ll watch The City again, to have another good laugh at that fascinatingly appalling phony Olivia, the show’s designated bitch-villain, but actually a common Manhattan type: the nouveau-riche climber. See? There’s a story, a plot, a narrative to follow in The City: Will Whitney’s blank-slate “goodness” defeat Olivia’s vivid “badness”? And all Bromance has going for it is Brody Jenner’s toilet-seat ethics, the “can-fessional.” Yuk.

Was either of these shows worth your time last night? And if so: What did you think of Bromance? Of The City? Would you watch either or both again?

More on The City:

The City premiere: Hits and misses