When MTV’s Jersey Shore first aired, it was being hailed as the final slide in humanity’s descent towards complete moral bankruptcy. The show, which follows eight boozed up, orange tanned, self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” as they fuck and fist pump their way through a summer at the Jersey Shore, was being considered the final nail in our society’s coffin, as if a combined eight seasons of Flavor of Love, I Love New York, and Rock of Love hadn’t already left America’s cultural landscape a barren, lifeless wasteland. But as our media outlets and middle-aged housewives gnashed their teeth over this virulent excuse of a television show, a much bigger threat in MTV’s programming schedule was able to slip by completely unnoticed. A show that is much worse and much more offensive than any hour spent glorifying slicked hair and twentysomething women getting punched in the face. A show called My Life as Liz.
MTV: Telling you what to like since 1981!
My Life as Liz is a new scripted comedy that follows its titular character through her last year of high school. Liz is your average daydreaming, skinny-jeaned teenage hipster. While once just another giggly, blonde preppie, the series’ first episode finds Liz shortly after her glorious transformation from bland conformist to open-minded thrift store wallflower. While it’s never exactly specified what spurned this metamorphosis, one can easily assume it involved a bag of weed and a My Chemical Romance album. And though Liz is happy with her new identity, her wacky hair dying ways frequently draws the ire of the resident popular girl, because apparently whoever is writing this show still thinks high school is an eighties movie.
In addition to being the creative and independent snowflake she is, Liz is also a hypocritical bitch. She seems dead set on rebelling against the narrow-minded ignorance of her small Texas town by preaching the value of accepting people for who they are, yet she can’t seem to go two minutes without complaining about the fact that all the girls in her school are bleach blonde and fond of the color pink. Apparently wearing ironic t-shirts and shopping for clothes well below your family’s economic means is an appeal to a higher authority.
Left: Wrong. Right: Right!
At its core, My Life as Liz is the most manufactured, corporate piece of garbage since the Black Eyed Peas. An advertisement for the show bills it as one for “the comic book convention goers, the live action roleplayers, [and] the hopeless romantics”. Now, let’s get something straight. MTV wants absolutely nothing to do with live action roleplayers. They wouldn’t go within ten feet of a live action roleplayer. If they were forced to sit next to a live action roleplayer on an airplane, they would alert the nearest stewardess and politely ask to have their seat changed. And you know what? Live action roleplayers want nothing to do with MTV. People who dress up in chainmail armor and go to a public park to beat each other with foam swords would literally not be caught dead watching MTV. So let’s call this show what it really is and that’s MTV trying to cash in on the geek chic craze. They’re a little late to jump on the bandwagon, seeing as how Juno was two years ago, but seeing as how Michael Cera is still a certifiable movie star I guess they figured people still eat up that awkward, nerdy lead character bullshit.
MTV wants nothing to do with this guy.
The transparency of the show’s soulless manipulations is due in part to its failure to succeed at the two things it sets out to do, which is to provide MTV with a unique half hour of comedy and connect to an audience outside the network’s usual mindless teenage girl demographic. The problem is that MTV hasn’t been relevant to anyone other than the sort of people who watch The Hills since the mid-nineties, and the network forewent their ability to produce genuine scripted comedy when they cancelled Clone High. The only thing the show manages to do is supplant one brainless audience for another, the kind who think individuality is achieved through a wardrobe from the Salvation Army and an iPod full of terrible music.
But the show’s biggest crime, and the reason it is so much more of an insult to audience’s intelligence than eight Italian-American stereotypes attempting to bring back hedonism as a legitimate lifestyle, is its desperate attempts to pretend it’s something it’s not. My Life as Liz is just as shallow and trivial as Jersey Shore, yet has the audacity to claim that it’s totally different from the networks usual showcasing of douchebag pseudo-celebrities. The show, despite its protests otherwise, is just another case of MTV trying to sell teenagers an identity, only this time it’s Converse sneakers and Lykke Li instead of UGG boots and Taylor Swift. At least the cast of Jersey Shore are fully aware of the fact that they’re nothing more than shot pounding morons, and don’t make any claims of having a genuine personality or legitimate emotions. There’s something admirable about that level of honesty.
Besides, Jersey Shore actually makes people laugh while it’s tearing apart America’s moral fabric. If MTV is intent on hollowing out America’s youth culture and filling it with vapid materialism, the least they can do is keep us amused while they do it.