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For a Real Challenge, CW's 'H8R' Should Send Itself To TV Critics
September 14, 2011  | By David Bianculli

Even with ABC's abysmal Charlie's Angels remake and other insipid new shows, CW's H8R, premiering Wednesday night at 8 ET, is an early lock as the worst new show of the 2011 fall TV season. Its premise is to identify someone who has posted snarky, nasty things about a particular celebrity, then dispatch that celebrity to ambush the "hater" and, by charming them and revealing their true selves, turning said "H8R" into a "lover." A horrible idea, to be sure -- but the show itself is even worse.

My reaction to this show, which follows, undoubtedly qualifies and defines me as a H8R hater -- but I don't expect the show's host, Mario Lopez, to show up any time soon with his camera crew in hopes of turning me into a fan.


And if you are, Mario, save your production budget, meager as it clearly is.

If you're not changing your show, I'm not changing my mind...

For its attention-getting premiere episode, one of the celebrities enlisted to ambush and charm a non-fan is Nicole Polizzi -- much better known as Snooki, her nickname on MTV's hit reality series Jersey Shore. This is the same Snooki who pulled her own personal version of H8R on Anderson Cooper earlier this week, appearing on the Tuesday edition of his new Anderson syndicated talk show to take him spray tanning.

Did Anderson ask her one single significant question during her appearance? No. Was it a worthwhile piece of television? No. Did she get what she wanted, which was to be treated with respect? Yes -- and she was flanked, on Anderson's show, by Anderson on one side and the usually sharp-tongued Kathy Griffin on the other.

On H8R, Snooki went up against Nick, an average guy -- by which I mean, nothing about him appeared to be above average in any way. Nick had no problem enumerating the reasons for his being a Snooki "H8R," including this one: "She makes $30,000 an episode for being a drunken donkey."

Snooki is shown this Internet diatribe by host Lopez in a limousine TV monitor, then driven to a place where Nick is playing pool -- and where cameras are there already. She pounces instantly, and he's easy prey.


"What up? What is wrong with you?" she asks. And with cameras rolling, and Snooki snarling, Nick is wobbly at the knees, and googly at the eyes, from the start.

"I am nothing that you think I am!" she tells him, almost grammatically.

And when he tells her she wrote a terrible book (his description was less polite, more fecal), she asks him, "Did you even read my book?"

No, he admits. Which was a missed opportunity, because he should have replied with a query of his own:

"Did you even write it?"

But what we're witnessing on H8R is not, and is not intended to be, an intense, emotional, uncomfortable, unstaged intellectual debate along the lines of 1971's Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer square-off on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971. (As a palate cleanser, savor this tasty segment, which ends with Cavett getting in his own licks, suggesting to Mailer a particularly painful practice of origami...)

No, what H8R is, at bottom -- as in bottom of the barrel -- is this: An utterly discardable, and detestable, 15-minutes-of-fame exercise for both parties.

It's not at all real, because the cameras are there intruding as well as recording.


The celebrity gets to either gain sympathy by enduring the slings and arrows from outrageous fortune-seekers, or soothe the savage beast like a snake charmer -- which Snooki does, exerting and displaying her control by feeding him a pickle in the aisle of a grocery store.

And if the symbolism of the event is in danger of eluding anyone watching, Snooki underscores just who's the bitch in this "impromptu" supermarket scene by extending her pickle and ordering him to "Suck on it."


I H8it.




wilberfan said:

I have no doubt it's as awful as you describe--which almost guarantees it'll be a ratings hit. Which will then spawn more shows like it...

Comment posted on September 14, 2011 2:45 PM

Eileen said:

I'm laughing out loud. Love this review.

Host = Mario Lopez = low expectations.

One of my favorite tv viewing experiences was when dear, snarky, slick Mario lost to true gentleman Emmett Smith on Dancing With the Stars (and couldn't contain his shock/anger/disgust/poor sportsmanship).

He & H8Rs deserve each other.

Comment posted on September 14, 2011 8:46 PM
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