L.A. Vice

Christine Whelan | Posted on 03/29/10

Friends were in town this weekend, and after an action-packed few days, we spent our rainy Sunday watching TV. As we channel-surfed, we came across "Pretty Wild," a new show on E! whose tagline

For these sisters, LA is their playground, but when you raise hell in the City of Angels, sometimes there's the devil to pay.

caught our attention. Quick synopsis: A former lingerie-model Mom is raising three daughters, all of whom start their day popping Adderall and reciting platitudes from The Secret, a New Age self-help craze that we thought/hoped died out years ago. Given that background, it's no surprise that the family, with daughters ages 20, 19 and 16, is one big hot mess.

Says the LA Times:

Western civilization comes just a littler closer to its final collapse Sunday with the premiere of "Pretty Wild," the latest hot-chicks reality series from E!

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With its mix of pole dancing and prayer circles, lingerie modeling and legal problems, its graceless pacing and scattershot storytelling, this is one of the odder, more psychically exhausting reality shows to come down the pike.

The mother, Andrea, is homeschooling her kids based on one of the most objectionable self-help books of the last decade. Plus, one of their lesson plans is to describe what they admire about Angelina Jolie. (Answers from the girls? "Her husband" and "Her body.")

Yes, it's fun to watch and judge. And yes, I'm sure that this family (whoever they are) knew what they were getting into (creative editing, scripted drama, the obligatory-and faked-hatred of paparazzi) but there's something more concerning in this latest spate of reality TV:

When we watch sports to relax and "turn our brain's off" for a bit, there are a clear set of rules-we cheer for victory, and we discuss the implications of defeat. The winners are lauded for their accomplishments and the losers are expected to be composed and upbeat in their desire to compete again. Sure, there are plenty of bad values in sports, but the core idea is one of hard work and preparation to succeed at a particular challenge-and a celebration of victory at the conclusion.

But when we watch "Pretty Wild," we're getting a whole different set of values (or lack thereof) as we attempt to relax and zone out. You could insert all the usual comments-this show sets a bad example for young-adults, the permissive parenting is outrageous, the sexualization of young women is shocking-still, somehow that kind of outrage seems too weak, too stale to use to describe the horror of this show.

March Madness - gambling and all - is looking downright wholesome in comparison.

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