The Osbournes are back for their second season on MTV tonight. Although I despise reality shows, what little I caught of the The Osbournes last year WAS different in that the juxtaposition of absurdly abnormal people trying to live “normal” lives was striking and often very funny.
However, much of the appeal of the show was its freshness and the lightning in a bottle of exposing this “natural” behavior to the camera’s lights. There is no escaping the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, though, paraphrased as “you can’t train a camera on an Osbourne 24 hours a day without altering its behavior.”
Robert Bianco of USA Today is not pleased with the result:
- What once seemed fresh and at least partially spontaneous now seems studied and even a little desperate. There’s nothing much more painful than watching people struggling to expand their allotted quotient of fame.
Actually, that increased fame is part of the problem. In essence, The Osbournes was a real-life version of The Munsters: The humor came from the contrast between the family’s freakish appearance and their efforts to live a mundane domestic existence.
But whatever used to pass for normal among the Osbournes has vanished. Ozzy and Sharon are basking in the spotlight at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner; Kelly is launching a singing career; and Jack is backstage at the MTV Movie Awards celebrating his newfound celebrity. And the more we see of those kids, the less they look like Munsters than monsters.
There is, of course, another, sadder twist to this second season: Sharon’s battle with cancer, which seems to hit Ozzy far harder than it hits Sharon. Yes, even in the midst of possible tragedy, there are still moments when Ozzy is blissfully and amusingly unhinged. But there are also moments when he seems sad and pitiful and broken, and those tend to dim the comedy.
University of Florida professor James B. Twitchell thinks it’s all still swell however:
- He admits he’s as “addicted as anyone.”
“This is not normal shame TV,” he said. “Most of the modern reality TV is watching people do things that are shameful. This isn’t. This is not a dysfunctional family. … This is a family that has had to make its own way.”
Twitchell compared “The Osbournes” to “An American Family,” the 1973 PBS series that chronicled the daily activities of the Loud family.
“People kept saying, ‘Well, we’re going to get enough of this.’ Some people like myself never got enough.
“There’s a lot more to go because there’s a lot more in this family,” he said of the Osbournes. “We’re getting an incredible dose of them but they’re as interesting in the 15th episode as they are in the first.”
Call me shallow, but another problem I have is that, frankly, the kids are ugly – ugly, spolied and bratty. This is most unfortunate because Ozzy and Sharon are actually attractive people, although you have look beneath Ozzy’s 30 years of self-abuse and metal-star trappings.
An amusing aside, check out the relative sales status of the uncensored and censored versions of the first season on DVD below. I think the bleeps are part of the humor, actually.