For the Love of Ray J is proof that the recession has hit VH1.
Throughout college, I was a closeted VH1 viewer, sneaking peeks of I Love the 80’s, Celebrity Fit Club, and my favorite, Flavor of Love. I had stopped watching as much in the past year for two reasons. First, I briefly moved back home to Iowa where my parents are one of the last cable hold outs. Second, I discovered a treasure trove of great shows on DVD including The Big Bang Theory, Big Love, and How I Met Your Mother. Recently, however, I switched back to the home of has-been rock stars, C-list comedians (Except you, Ralphie May! You rock!), and slutty high school drop-outs desperately grabbing for their fifteen minutes of fame.
I took in a few episodes of VH1’s latest celebrity dating show For the Love of Ray J, and I was surprised at what I saw. In many ways, For the Love of Ray J is exactly like its predecessor, Flavor of Love. Like every company in a recession, however, VH1 has had to make a few cut-backs in the mansion/set, dates, and even the elimination ceremony.
The first major difference I noticed was the accommodations for Ray J’s girls. While the girls of Flavor of Love slept on nice plush beds, the girls of For the Love of Ray J were stuck with bunk beds. Bunk beds belong in children’s bedrooms, homeless shelters, summer camps, and prison. What are bunk beds doing in a superstar’s posh mansion?
Another major difference has been the dates with the girls. There was a moment in a recent episode when Ray J suggested that they could just “hang around the house for the day.” Okay, what? Hanging around the house is what my fiancé and I do when we don’t have any money or its cold outside and we don’t want to get out of our P.J.’s. (Once again, we live in Iowa. There’s not much to do outside anyways.) What is Ray J’s excuse? Even Flavor Flav took the girls to Medieval Times, a place frequented by white trash tourists. Is Ray J being a frugal spender, or is VH1 tightening its belt?
Finally, Ray J has cut back on the elimination ceremony. This was a smart decision in my mind because after all, why should they spend money on girls who are going home? In Flavor of Love, Flavor Flav had giant gem-studded clocks with all the girls’ faces on them. At the elimination ceremony, he would present the girls he wanted to keep around with their clock, and to the eliminated girls, he said, “Your time is up.” (Catchy, right?) Afterward, he would drink champagne with the remaining ladies. Ray J cut VH1’s costs considerably by cutting out the clocks or roses or whatever and skipping right to the alcohol. Ray J hands out glasses of champagne to the ladies he wants to keep around, perhaps to help them forget that they are competing on a VH1 dating show and thus losing any last remaining scrap of dignity they might have had left.
For the Love of Ray J is no Flavor of Love, but at the end of the day, it is not because the mansion is less flashy or the dates are less extravagant. The difference between these very similar dating shows is in the leading man. Flavor Flav was a clown, a crazed ringmaster, leading this 3-ring circus of sluts, booze, and bling. Ray J will never don a crown, yell cheesy catchphrases, or discuss eating a picnic off of a girl’s ass. For the Love of Ray J is Flavor of Love without the campy joy, so I will sadly flip the channel away from VH1 and look for a new guilty pleasure. Is anyone up for some Bridezillas?