Logo tries to beat Bravo at its own reality game with ‘The A-List’ and ‘The Arrangement’
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
With the success — and appeal among the gay community — of the Real Housewives franchise, it seemed only logical that someone would eventually come up with a gay version … only it’s not on Bravo, but Logo.
So as we watched a screener of The A-List: New York, I asked the man sitting on the couch next to me — my frequent plus-one at events — whether either of us could be considered “A-listers.” “No, honey,” he said without hesitation. “Not even in Dallas. We’re not important enough.”
I’m not sure I agree, assuming the standard for “A-list” status is the klatch of bitchy queens who snipe at each other on this new reality series. They go see Reichen Lemkuhl in a dopey off-off-Broadway play and hang around for the reception after; I do stuff like that three times a week. They gossip over coffee and attend fashion shows and museum openings; I turn down more of those invitations than I accept.
I’m not claiming to be an A-lister, and might even admit I’m lower on the totem than Kathy Griffin; I just don’t see that they are any higher. Except that they are on TV.
That must be it.
But that is not to say the show doesn’t have its appeal. In fact to me, self-delusion is almost juicier than actual achievement. To be fair, some of these men have accomplished something: Mike Ruiz, a daddy who likes to take his shirt off (bless ‘im), is a famous photographer, and Lemkuhl won The Amazing Race. But hairdresser Ryan? Wannabe model Austin? I don’t think so.
Of course, the “real” housewives never struck me as real anyway (there, like here, the “friendships” feel manufactured). While The A-List is just as un-real, it’s also hotter, especially Reichen’s Brazilian boyfriend Rodiney. Looks like there could be some claws coming out with that sexual tension. Thing is, I wanna know what happens. Guess I’m hooked.
Grade: Three stars
Rodiney isn’t the only cute South American debuting on Logo this week; there’s also Argentinian Guillermo, one of the florists competing for title of top flower arranger on The Arrangement, from the Bailey-Barbato team that produces RuPaul’s Drag Race. Just how suspenseful, or interesting, is a competition show about floral design? Well, considering that Tyra Banks has made a TV career out of herding a pack of empty-headed waifs through the rigors of walking while chewing gum, at least these folks have marketable skills.
At least part of the appeal of reality series is the cleverness of the terminology (quickfire challenges, “You’re fired!,” etc.). The jargon here is hokey: “Are you a grower or a shower?” Gigi Levangie Grazer, the smug and uninteresting host, asks the contestants, before setting them on their “seedling challenge” to find out who will be “weeded out” and who gets to wait in the “greens room.” Uggh.
Butch florist Russ says he’s here to “promote masculinity” in floral arrangement, but having to decorate naked people with sushi and rose petals doesn’t really convey that to me. But ehh! These crafty game shows long ago ceased being about the prizes or the skills and all about the personalities. There are some here. Whether they will wilt on the vine before the final challenge is anyone’s guess. But this is the new reality of television — I guess we should be thankful it’s also where gays are just as prominent as their straight counterparts. Even if it is on Logo.
Grade: Two stars
The A-List: New York debuts Monday at 9 p.m. and The Arrangement at 10 p.m. on Logo.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.