Reality Bites: Small Town Security
As an avowed DVR user (often by necessity), I often feel my belatedly watching many TV shows is somehow compensated for by the fact that I don't see a lot of commercials. It's one of the primary side benefits to being able to record shows for later viewing (the other being able to pee whenever you like).
So it wasn't until the second episode of Breaking Bad's fifth season, which I uncharacteristically watched in real-time, that I started seeing ads for another AMC series, called Small Town Security. Initial speculation that this might be another dramatic program like the one I was watching soon gave way to dawning horror: It was a reality show. More to the point, it actually looked worse than AMC's other entry in the genre, Comic Book Men.
I know, I didn't think that was possible either.
Small Town Security even starts with the "AMC Original Series" intro that heralds such acclaimed fare as Mad Men and The Walking Dead (and such not-so acclaimed fare as The Killing and Hell on Wheels, but whatever). A few minutes in, the brand quickly becomes irrelevant.
We open with a quartet of rather dazed-looking folks discussing the moral ramifications of dropping your pants for a million dollars. Receptionist Christa insists she wouldn't do it for less than *a hundred* million, while office manager Brian suggests she'd do it for a mere 500. Canadian. Funny stuff. You know, we had similar conversations like this when I was a waiter, but we weren't licensed to carry guns.
In case you weren't aware, "The Lieutenant" Dennis Croft -- or "Diesel," as the nickname goes -- used to be a woman named Denise. Now he takes testosterone shots, binds his breasts and wears a prosthetic penis. This particular angle is probably one of the main reasons this show was ever greenlighted, because almost nothing else about any of these Pink Flamingos rejects is remotely interesting.
There's "The Chief," Joan Koplan, a former Z-movie actress ( Zan, King of the Jungle) and regional pop star who looks like an aging Elvira impersonator and pointedly continues to refer to Dennis as "she" (I'd say she really enjoys busting Diesel's balls, but you know). She's the owner of JJK Security and Investigations in Ringgold, Georgia, and she's fond of peanut butter and Cool Whip.
Joan and Dennis enjoy each other's company way more than seems healthy, considering Joan is married (more on him later). "Diesel" goes on patrol with her, rubs her feet and tries to refer to her as her wife (he believes they were married in another life). I hope all the potential JJK clients who see this show book the firm's services with confidence.
Nothing butches up your image like a filter-tip cigarillo.
Irwin "The Captain" Koplan is Joan's husband of 43 years and responsible for drumming up new business, a pursuit which he seems particularly unenthused about. Because it's integral to the show, we hear about their courtship (replete with old photos -- the Chief was quite a dish back before the NFL-AFL merger) and their mutual great senses of humor (fart contests, which are demonstrated in comic ass balloon format...stay classy, AMC).
Anyway, The Captain is suffering from that most recent mythic Baby Boomer ailment: "Low T." The "T" is for "testosterone," which naturally diminishes as a man ages, yet Irwin allows himself to be swayed by one of those stupid commercials (that probably air on AMC, now that I think about it, that's some clever meta-marketing) to take care of his "problem." Next up, a trip to the uncomfortably young female doctor who prescribes him some testosterone cream when she really should've given him some industrial strength rinse for his horrible fucking hair dye. Seriously, Irwin's mane changes colors like four times in one episode.
And couldn't he just get some "T" from Diesel?
Then some other stuff happened. You know, I don't usually get to such an abrupt stopping point when watching these shows, but I honestly couldn't go on. It isn't just that there's nothing redeeming about STS -- because there isn't -- but the whole endeavor was so goddamn *depressing*. Forget The Walking Dead, television's allegedly premiere undead showcase, here are your real zombies: individuals so bereft of life force they can barely lurch out of bed in the morning (or early afternoon, in Diesel's case).
At least with other horrific reality shows like The Real Housewives of Keokuk or even Toddlers and Tiaras there's usually enough unintentional humor and/or schadenfreude to keep us interested/appalled enough to stay tuned. With Small Town Security, AMC seems to think it has something "quirky" and "off the wall." In reality (no pun intended), it feels like something the North Korean government broadcasts to sap its citizens' will to live.