The World According to Paris (Wednesday, 9 p.m., Oxygen) is the latest reality series to chronicle the life of brain-dead party girl Paris Hilton. Oh, sorry - "singer/actress/author/fashion designer Paris Hilton," as she pompously describes herself in the intro.
On the eve of her 30th birthday, Paris says she's ready to grow up, and one can only assume she means progressing from a sixth- to a seventh-grade mentality. She spends her days making catty comments about other women, bickering with her boyfriend over infantile jealousy issues, and pouting whenever a representative from the adult universe demands reasonable behavior from her. "I have to do 200 hours of community service, and it really sucks balls," she whines, indignant that she has to pay her debt to society for, like, breaking the law. She goldbricks her way through community service, sneering at the nice intake lady's sweater. "It's sooo '80s, and not in a good way."
Yes, The World According to Paris is a vile thing, but we have to give ourselves part of the blame for its existence. As long as we continue to watch Paris, she'll try to make money off us with shows like this. So here's a suggestion: Let's stop watching. You may think you're tuning in to this series to laugh at her, but believe me, she's laughing at you, all the way to the bank. And sneering at your sweater while she's at it.
MTV Movie Awards
Sunday, 8 pm (MTV)
How weird is it that the Oscar producers don't understand what people actually like about movies? They seem to think we want to watch anonymous art directors and sound mixers give boring speeches about their work in films we didn't really care about that much in the first place. And they go out of their way to snub great comedies and exciting action films and fun teen pictures.
One can only conclude that the Oscar producers hate American cinema.
Not so with the MTV Movie Awards. It does your heart good to look over the list of nominees and see wonderful films and performances that Oscar wouldn't touch with a 10-foot boom mike: Emma Stone in Easy A, Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass, Jay Chou in The Green Hornet. Here you'll find categories that really matter, including Best Fight, Best Kiss and Biggest Bad-Ass Star.
Man, I'm starting to remember how much I love American cinema.
Monday & Tuesday, 7 pm (Fox)
I don't usually get too worked up about whether someone overcooks or undercooks a piece of fish. But for an hour each week, Master Chef convinces me that it's a matter of life or death.
Gordon Ramsay's reality series picks good cooks from among a group of amateurs. Sounds boring on its face, but Ramsay amps up the intensity with blinding lights, deafening music, and a panel of judges who treat less-than-perfect chefs as if they were war criminals.
In the season premiere, the judges practically call in the National Guard when a contestant sprinkles white truffle oil on an egg dish.
"I can't believe you've just done that!" Ramsay thunders, as ominous music plays on the soundtrack. "White truffle oil is one of the most ridiculous ingredients ever known to chef!"
"Get rid of that crap!" another judge screams.
By the end of the episode, you are convinced that white truffle oil - which you have never really thought much about before - is one of the most revolting substances on Earth, as fascinatingly toxic as a nuclear waste dump.
Master Chef has done it again.
The Real Housewives of Orange County
Monday, 9 pm (Bravo)
All hell breaks loose in the season finale, as Vicki files for divorce, former Housewife Jeana stirs up trouble and Tamra lashes out at everybody.
Still, one senses that things aren't as bad as they seem. I mean, it's not like any plastic surgeons' offices have closed, and the stores haven't run out of blond hair dye, right?
Franklin and Bash
Wednesday, 8 pm (TNT)
This new law show comes on like a smarmy 1970-80s sex comedy. Partners Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) suggest grown-up Animal House characters - smirking bad-boy lawyers who enjoy tweaking the establishment with a kind of above-it-all cool. They break the rules to win their cases, all the while laughing at the straights who would impinge on their right to be obnoxious.
It might have worked, the way Animal House worked. But there's an element from those old sex comedies that doesn't transfer to 2011: the casual sexism. In Franklin and Bash, women are just there for guys to ogle or use, and the camera unashamedly leers at them. Sample scene: Our heroes try to sway a judge by instructing a buxom witness to take off her shirt on the stand.
I'm all for antiheroes who break the rules, but the rule put in place by feminists - that women shouldn't be treated as subhuman - seems like a sensible one to obey.