It’s always liberating when a smart friend pauses for a moment when they’re talking about what they were watching last night and finally admit it was “The Bachelorette” or “Toddlers & Tiaras.”
I’ve bonded with people over my admission that I once spent most of a snowy weekend watching two seasons of MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” (hey, there was a local angle! one of the episodes was shot in Hartford).
These shows are designed to hook a viewer with pure old-fashioned voyeurism, and once you start watching the teasers and promos for what will be happening in upcoming segments — after the next commercial break — it’s hard to pull yourself away.
Before you know it, an hour (or two) of your life has just vanished.
This week, Oxygen unveiled a new Tuesday night show “The Next Big Thing NY” which isn’t exactly good, but isn’t bad by the standards of reality TV.
“The Next Big Thing NY” has the advantage of focusing on what you might call “real” reality. It follows a genuine professional doing what he does for a living and his charges as they try to score jobs in show business. This puts the series a level or two above the trumped-up shows about phony competitions (“The Bachelor” et al) or the ones that simply follow raging narcissists who are willing to do almost anything in front of a camera (i.e. the Bravo “Real Housewives” franchise or, God forbid, “Basketball Wives” on VH1).
What hooked me in the first episode of the new Oxygen series was not so much Trapper — who overdoes his “outrageous” personality for the TV crew — but the kids and their parents.
Perhaps because I’ve run into so many young aspiring Broadway kids — Fairfield County is packed with them — it was interesting to see what it’s like for these ambitious children to go on auditions and to prepare for a talent showcase.
And the episode ended with a real event — a group of the kids performing at the legendary talent show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem — so enough suspense was generated for me to watch it to the end.
“The Next Big Thing TV” doesn’t qualify as “appointment television” but it is a notch or two above the competition.