Saturday, August 12, 2006

Undressed

I've been recently reminded of the MTV show Undressed, which has been off the air now for four years. Oh my, it was a terrible show. And yet I watched so many episodes of it. It was entrancing. I know I wasn't alone. My college roommate couldn't stop watching, and neither could my brother. It was a wildly and confusingly entertaining train wreck of a show, which managed to show 222 episodes in six seasons in five years, roughly double the amount of show of a normal series.

The formula was simple. There were three plotlines in each show. One was about high school students, one was about college students, and one was about young adults post-college. All plotlines involved sex in some way. One was a straight couple, one was a gay or lesbian couple, and one was "other"—no couples at all, or a three-person relationship, or included a blind person, or some other plot element. They would dart back and forth through the different storylines during each episode, generally visiting each storyline between each commercial break, which means that one's attention span needed only be a minute or two, because after that, something else was happening entirely. Each show would showcase the music of one or two indie artists.

And oh, was the show awful. The acting was generally quite bad, and even if it wasn't, the lines were far from Shakespeare. It made the glacial love scenes in Star Wars Episode II seem like an erotic masterpiece in comparison. Endings were cliché and corny, and sometimes you could see how a story was going to end a few minutes after it was introduced. But in two minutes the show would be onto something else, and in a couple days, that storyline would have been over and something else started in its place. There certainly wasn't any nudity, and rarely was there anything even that risqué; despite the show's name, and the fact that the characters all wanted to have sex with each other, everyone kept their clothes on. There were about ten sets used over the entire run of a season—switch a couple posters around, and suddenly you've got a whole new dorm room, ready for a not-that-steamy, hilariously stupid sexual encounter.

There was a new episode each weeknight, and my roommate and I watched each and every one for at least a season or two. On Friday, they'd show a fifth new episode for the week, and then show all five episodes for the week again, so sometimes we'd stay for the recap and relive moments from a couple days ago.

I really think that the show intended to be a sexy drama, but it ended up being pure comedy. Take the softest of soft, almost-family-friendly, PG-rated porn, and cross it with Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and you've got Undressed.

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