Fantasia and Pepa’s New Reality

These days, reality TV is the last resort for down-on-their-luck, formerly famous folks. So why can’t I stop watching?

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Just when I thought I could give up on VH1 and its ridiculous onslaught of reality shows, I get reeled in by its never-ending train wreck of C-list celebrities: Frank the Entertainer, formerly of I Love New York; the cast of Celebrity Rehab 3 (Heidi Fleiss, Dennis Rodman, Tom Sizemore, and an America’s Next Top Model reject); and Brandy’s brother on For the Love of Ray J. The latest entries in VH1’s Watching Road Kill Hall of Shame are two new shows starring Sandy “Pepa” Denton and Fantasia Barrino.

Now, of course, this isn’t Masterpiece Theatre. And these days, you don’t have to be on television to find fame on the little screen. Twitter handles like “@shitmydadsays” get television contracts; Internet sex-tape “stars” Kim Kardashian and Ray J become reality-show headliners. But increasingly, reality TV is the last resort for down-on-their-luck, formerly famous folks. (See: Flavor Flav.) Today’s Hollywood motto is: “I was famous once, I can be famous again. I want my reality show, VH1!”

So you’ve got the Jacksons snaring a reality-TV show after their much more famous brother’s death. (Apparently, they know a good opportunity when they see it.) It’s why Tom DeLay danced with the stars. Rod Blagojevich will appear on Celebrity Apprentice (and his wife, Patti, was on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here). All the has-beens of America are—or are trying to be—on somebody’s television screen.

As an admittedly unashamed fan of reality television, and good television, too, I had to give Fantasia for Real and Let’s Talk About Pep a quick glance. If the age-old adage is true—that curiosity killed the cat—then read on. For entertainment’s sake and for laugh-out-loud satisfaction, these ladies’ realities are definitely ones to watch.

Fantasia for Real (VH1, Mondays, 10 p.m., ET)

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