What did fans of trashy popular culture do before Bravo reality shows came along? I ask this honestly, partly because I have only the haziest memories of the '90s, but mostly because over the past few years Bravo has become this country's No. 1 purveyor of spectacularly bizarre reality-TV moments. From "The Real Housewives of New Jersey's" "prostitution whore" table-throwing scene to "NYC Prep's" teen supervillain showdowns, the network's shows have become increasingly over-the-top, explosive and entertaining.
They've also become very easy to parody -- although not to parody well. Thank goodness for the folks at KCS Cougar Productions, who have uploaded their smart and creepily dead-on Bravo reality-show cartoon parodies to YouTube. They're all worth a look (especially if, like me, you enjoy watching dramatic readings of "Cop Without a Badge"), but the best place to start watching is their recent "NYC Prep" takedown, which manages to capture the essence of the show's characters (Jessie's money quote: "Brah brah brah, Barney's, brah brah brah, Operation Smile") with remarkable efficiency, if not subtlety.
Their older cartoons are just as sharp. Worth a special look is the "Real Housewives of NYC" reunion video (in which the appearance of a surprise guest causes the countess to spontaneously combust), their "Housewives of New Jersey" parody (in which Teresa shows off her new set of marble dildos), and their Stephanie Pratt vs. label-maker "Hills" showdown.
Check out recent Critics' Picks:
"The Speech: Race and Barack Obama's 'A More Perfect Union,'" by Andrew O'Hehir
"Dollhouse" Season 1 DVD, by Mary Elizabeth Williams
Prada fall/winter 2009 look book, by Stephanie Zacharek
"Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales," by Laura Miller
HBO's "Boy Interrupted," by Heather Havrilesky