Home > Media, Television > Rock of Love is the Pinnacle of Reality TV

Rock of Love is the Pinnacle of Reality TV

Note about the post:  Alright here’s the deal.  I haven’t posted anything in here in over 8 months.  Until the resume thing.  But that was just something fun I’d cooked up.  Plus, I figured I’d put out a real article since World of Warcraft is only marginally entertaining to me now.  So, I present with you an homage to the best thing to ever come out of VH1.

Here’s the thing, I have never been one for reality TV.  Something about watching other people act like they’re behaving regularly while surrounded by cameras at all times seems trashy to me.  The problem is, I was seriously addicted to Rock of Love, at least from season 2 onward, and by my estimation, no reality TV show will ever come to surpass it.

Here’s the problem: most reality TV is just depressing.  Watching a bunch of guys from Jersey act like they’re a big deal is depressing.  Letting them think the reason any woman ever had sex with them is their sexual prowess is more so.

The Sitch and Pauly D

Raw Sex Appeal

Other shows are equally depressing.  Watching The Bachelor/The Bachelorette is absolutely horrifying to that part of me that believes in all things good and decent.  The idea that there is a woman (or man) out there for whom the only chance at love is to simultaneously have multiple suitors stands against everything my prudish sexual instincts believe.

The fact of the matter is that the singular motivation for all reality TV is the same as every game show: money.  Sure fame plays into it, but only insofar as it is a means to receive money.  Not very many rational people would agree to the terms of the Survivor series but without the potential to earn money or be televised.  Do any of the bachelorettes sincerely believe they will find true love, or are they just trying to be the next recognizable face to resuscitate their dying love life?  Probably not, and if they do they’re probably fairly unstable.

My Next Vacation

This was in the brochure for my next vacation: The Survivor Experience

The problem with Rock of Love is that it is all of these things, and so I am in the unenviable position of becoming a complete hypocrite. After all, Rock of Love is simply The Bachelor but with a celebrity, and it only came after Flavor of Love.  It is not the first and will not be the last celebrity reality TV show.

(A note about celebrity TV shows: It’s exceptionally interesting to watch shows such as Dancing with the Stars, where washed up or barely-relevant stars go to try to revive their career by dancing just better than a drunken toddler.  But the key there is the attempt to revive their careers: they want to be super famous again, or regain wealth they’d lost.  Kind of like Dustin Diamond went on Celebrity Fit Club around the time he lost all his money.)

But this is where Rock of Love’s defining feature comes in: Bret Michaels needs none of the tangible benefits that a “normal” person would need from a reality TV show.  Despite the fact that Poison is likely one of the least interesting (and yet shockingly successful) bands ever, Bret Michaels has a permanent fan base of perpetually-permed women with perpetual cases of the 80s.  To so many women, Bret Michaels is a sex god.  And given the durability of such instant classics as “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, Bret Michaels will probably not ever truly want for money.  Considering that Bret Michaels still tours, it’s not totally likely that he’s trying to rejuvenate his career.  Not to mention, Poison is low-key enough now that at the time of airing only the twenty-somethings and people (unfortunately) in touch with 80’s culture will know off-hand who Bret Michaels is.  So while he stands to gain a new fan base in the younger audience, it seems unlikely that tons of tweens were tuning in to watch some guy from the hair metal days act a fool.

Strip away those primary motivations, and you have the core of what makes this show so inherently amazing: Bret Michaels sincerely believes that by dating 25 women at once, he can slowly whittle down the field to one woman to whom he’ll be forever in love. And when he failed the first time, he did not lose faith in this method.  He once again submitted to the scrutiny of the public while dating another 20 women.  Bret Michaels bet his dignity upon this method three times.

Pictured: Dignity.

But the problem is, dating that many women at once is all that Bret Michaels knows, and by providing us with Rock of Love, he has provided us a window into his life and, by extension, all of the hardships that come along with it.  Bret Michaels bares his soul in each season in the hopes that he can find a woman worthy of sharing in his love.  This alone makes the show that much more entertaining.

The pinnacle of the Rock of Love series is the third season, Rock of Love Bus.  Bret Michaels, in a sincere moment of self-discovery, decided that the problem he was having in meeting women was not due to his methodology, but rather that specific execution of said methodology.  Dating 25 women at once was not the problem, the problem was that none of them were prepared for life on the road.  Solving this problem brilliantly, Bret packs all the women on two tour busses and gets them used to life as a Bret Michaels groupie.

The brilliance of this idea aside, perhaps the most simultaneously hilarious and depressing fact is not that the women have a hard time with the travel, but rather with sharing Bret with so many other women.  This issue was there in the previous seasons, but while traveling and touring, there is even less time to be with Bret.  So the fact that they are sharing him really hits home for all the women. One can only imagine the conversations Bret had with the contestants that never made it past the editor’s table.

"Listen, Baby, you have to get used to the groupies. I'm not giving them up."

But I don’t think so far I’ve really touched on some of the best parts of what makes Rock of Love the ultimate reality TV series.  I think when it comes down to it the most hilarious part is the fact that Bret Michaels takes everything—including himself—so seriously.  To him, touring is not about appealing to fans stuck in nostalgia, but a serious act of art, a part of his life that he could not conceive of moving beyond because it is so integral to his personality.

To Bret Michaels, Poison is still one of the biggest bands in the country, if not the world.

Time and time again, Bret questioned whether the women who were with him were there because they cared about Bret Michaels the person or Bret Michaels, front man of Poison—all the while blissfully unaware that those two personalities were in no way distinct.  This self-delusion, the idea that somehow Bret Michaels is not defined by his career only leads to more hilarity.

I still remember one scene from Rock of Love Bus that is still hilarious to this day.  In it, Bret is on a date with a contestant at which point he whips out his guitar and starts to sing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.  Predictably, he had sex that night.  There is something absolutely surreal about watching him stoop to the level of a horny teenager in order to extract sex from a contestant.  There was something so amazing about watching Bret decry women who only saw him as a musician only to woo them with a classic ballad later that episode.

Though Rock of Love is gone now, I still cannot help but feel a certain void in my life as a result. (I know, that is a little upsetting to think about.)  I plainly recall spending Sunday nights with my friends watching the show, eating shitty Chinese food.  Every time Bret Michaels said something that objectified a woman I could not help but laugh—not because that type of thing is funny, but because to Bret Michaels there is no other way to talk to a woman.

I will always remember watching Bret Michaels make the contestants act as roadies, picking up microphones while being pelted with objects by the audience.  I will always remember how irresponsible it was of Bret to let the contestants watch children as a means to test their maternal instincts (the group had none).

And in the end, watching Bret Michaels puzzle over his failing love life—utterly unable to pin down the problem—was the most deeply satisfying thing about the show.  In the end, even the most die-hard groupies just could not abide that for long.  I’ll admit it’s a bit petty of me to revel in another man’s misery, but when that person is so shockingly self-delusional and self-absorbed there is something amazing in watching relationships implode all around him.

I just can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever get a fourth season.

Categories: Media, Television
  1. June 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Rock of Love has left a hole in my heart as well. I sincerely miss it.. especially because I used to watch it on Sunday mornings with the rest of my sorority sisters, always laughing that no matter how wild our night before, it could never compete to the days on that show. I personally loved Frenchie, who is more muppet than human being.

    Did you ever try watching Real Chance at Love? Or Frank the Entertainer (whatever the show’s real name was)? I also enjoyed I Love New York because it kept me yelling “WHO WOULD DATE HER?!” And then The White Rapper Show.. which was absurd, even though it wasn’t a dating show.

    Also, I laughed at your phrase “prudish sexual instincts.” You never had multiple suitors?

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