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October 7, 2015

Screener Hell: Playboy TV's Foursome - VIDEO

by Jay Black, posted Jun 11th 2008 4:41PM
This is the true story of really rotten people picked to live in a house...Screener Hell is an semi-regular feature in which lead blogger Keith McDuffee tries to fry my brain with the worst TV has to offer.

(S02E01/S02E02) Do you have any idea how bad a show you have to be to include several scenes of gratuitous nudity and still be boring!? I love nudity. The more unnecessary the nudity, the better. My favorite kind of nudity is that mid-'90s Cinemax nudity where the main character, despite her ongoing undercover investigation into the exotic world of high-class prostitution, decides to take a shower for 20 minutes for no good reason at all. I'll watch pretty much any kind of claptrap if it includes that kind of nudity.

But not this show. Not Foursome. There is no amount of tanned, taut Californian wannabe-actress flesh that could get me to watch another minute of this show. Please, don't think this is because I'm maturing; the show is just that bad...

Foursome (Fridays, 9 PM, Playboy TV) opens with the following description: One mansion, four sexy singles, 24 hours. So, imagine a combination of The Real World and Blind Date without any basic cable broadcast standards interfering with us watching the participants getting their freak on. Sounds like there might be potential there, right? I mean, maybe once when you were by yourself in a hotel room you spent $9.95 on a pay-per-view of Blind Date: Uncensored and, ahem, enjoyed it. So it only stands to reason that perhaps Foursome would be right up your alley.

Here's the problem: Foursome is produced by Playboy Television. Unlike The Real World or Blind Date, which both have the whiff of respectability around them (with the latter throwing in the whiff of Robert Lodge to boot), Foursome is crippled in the casting department by having the taint of pornography about it from the start. Whereas the morons who get naked and do nasty no-no things to each other on most reality shows can pretend that they were "caught up in the moment" and "never meant to do that", the people cast on Foursome know from their first interview what's expected of them.

These expectations lead to an even lower class of moron than the average reality show. Imagine the cast of The Real World, except without self-respect, and you begin to get the idea. Listening to the slow, slurred speech of several of the participants leads me to believe "Have you ever been without oxygen for longer than 20 minutes?" was one of the interview questions. Anyone who answered "no" was immediately disqualified.

As each of them -- two women and two men -- arrive to the mansion for the 24-hour sexploration (yes, the show finds a way to attach the word "sex" to any number of ridiculous root words. My favorite? "Sextricity" for the electrical stimulation games in the debut episode), they all find a way to describe themselves as "really open people." Being an "open person" is apparently now a euphemism for being an emotionally crippled attention hound who replaces the love their parents obviously never gave them with margaritas and the private parts of strangers.

Even the nudity is a let down. The show is filmed in a dead-eyed documentary style that makes the whole thing feel like you're watching Cold War era Soviet pornography. Dirk Diggler's self-produced documentary had more flair than this show.

I can only imagine that anyone watching this on The Playboy Channel would greet its appearance with anger, and perhaps an Elvis-style gunshot at the TV. I haven't seen The Playboy Channel since I was sixteen and figured out how to get it for free by screwing around with our family's Sprucer box (any guy who lived in South Jersey during the late eighties and early nineties knows what I'm talking about), but from what I remember, it was pretty much just wall-to-wall nudity. There was no narrative, save for the occasional "whoops, I spilled soap on my t-shirt, I should take it off now" dramatic vignette.

I'm not arguing in favor of decontextualized pornography; I'm just saying that if you're going to build a TV channel around it, don't all of a sudden decide to "class things up" by aping what other networks do. This is Channel Drift of the worst kind -- you alienate your core audience of perverts, but you do nothing to expand your audience to a wider world.

There was a time when Playboy represented a liberal ideal: where freedom, money, sex, and intelligence came together in a fun, adult forum. If this is where they're taking the brand, sign me up for a subscription to Maxim.

(Here's a trailer from Season One, it's Semi-NSFW -- the naughty parts are censored, but you can still figure out what's being said/shown, so click play at your own risk):

Online Videos by Veoh.com

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Wasn't this the same show that Ozzy from SURVIVOR appeared on before his first SURVIVOR stint? I remember seeing a clip online of him and it was pretty hardcore. And he used his real name to boot!

June 11 2008 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lucyfan62's comment
Jay Black

Yes, it was -- I stumbled across this information in my "research" in writing this review. He appeared in the first season of the show which aired two years ago on Playboy TV.

Frankly, I'm not sure how anybody appears on this show and then goes back to a normal life. I mean other than the guy who appeared in the trailer as a "professional dodge ball player". My guess is that appearing in reality semi-porn is actually considered a step-up on the pro dodgeball circuit.

June 11 2008 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OMG! It looks just like that "real" porn I saw one night on TEN (which is now Penthouse). How....unimaginative. If I'm tuning into something that's not a "serious" movie with nudity. I better have more than breast shots going on.

This is going back to a saying I have "reality tv- how to make one stupid...er"

June 11 2008 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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