Judge Ian Visser hates New York, but has much love for Utica, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, North Tonawanda, Suffern, Bethel, Syracuse, Irondequoit, and the Genesee River.
Our review of I Love New York: Season Two, published June 4th, 2008, is also available.
"This program is not affiliated with "I (heart) NY" or the New York State Department of Economic Development."—disclaimer from DVD packaging.
What has the Empire State ever done to deserve this?
Facts of the Case
Rejected not once but twice as mate material on VH1's Flavor of Love, trash-talking mistress of mean New York (aka Tiffany Pollard) now gets a chance to turn the tables. With an assortment of twenty men at the ready, New York will attempt to determine which candidate proves most suitable for her ladylike ways. But it's not just New York the men must impress: New York's mother is along for the ride and has very concrete ideas of what kind of man her daughter should be with.
Will any one man be able to impress both ladies? Will New York stray from her "thug" preference and choose a nice guy? And if so, will it be true love?
Contestant New York was undoubtedly the biggest thing to happen to VH1's Flavor of Love, her chain-smoking, surgically-enhanced self proving so popular she appeared in both seasons and ultimately got her own show. Reversing the Flavor of Love premise? Genius! How could this show fail? Not having seen I Love New York during its initial broadcast run, I was anxious to reacquaint myself with the train-wreck that is her life.
The men of the show are a collection of types: the preening metrosexual, the buff body-builder, the thug, the smooth player, the nerdy white guy, and so on. New York saddles them all with corresponding nicknames (let's welcome Rico, Pootie, Tango, Wood, White Boy, 12-Pack, Heat, T-Bone, Jersey, Mr. Boston, Onix, T-Weed, Ace, Trendz, Bonez, T-Money, Real, Chance, Token, and Romance, shall we?) and dispatches one or more each week, after which she usually exhorts any losers to "get the f*ck out my house!" Ultimately only two will remain, New York will make her choice and…well, it's not really clear what happens after that. But whatever it is, may I suggest the winner wear a condom? Or two?
Most of the episodes in I Love New York feature a competition or task that must be completed by the candidates. These range from a swimsuit event (largely embarrassing) to a review of each man's financial prospects (largely dismal) to a cook-off (largely disastrous). New York and her mother are the ultimate deciders on which man is most suitable, although the occasional guest judge is thrown in for variety. Note to producers: do we really need more Omarosa (The Apprentice) on television?
I Love New York is right up there with The Hills and Laguna Beach in the "reality" department when it comes to how a show is put together. Overdubbing, questionable editing, and obviously scripted material are all present, especially in the reunion episode where the writing is so blatant you can almost see the participants reading from cue cards. Many of the men are exposed as having ulterior motives for participating; most have acting, rapping, or modeling careers they are working on. These deceptions are inevitably revealed to a "shocked" New York, who usually dismisses the men for their failure to "keep it real."
Despite the suggestion that I Love New York was to be an equally insane follow-up to Flavor of Love, the show commits the ultimate reality-TV sin and bores its audience to death. New York was at her best in the all-female environment, where it was kill-or-be-killed on the way to winning the hand of rapper Flavor Flav. Confronted by competition in the form of other women, New York would constantly lash out in non-stop "realness" attacks to destroy the competition. And it was very believable; the woman was crazed and paranoid to such a degree that it made men's jewels shrivel into raisins in the face of her insanity.
Now that she is the centre of attention, however, it is left to the men to supply the conflict. Unfortunately, there is very little present over the course of the show. Oh, some guys mouth off to one-another, and some "pushy-pushy" action results, but there is nothing like the constant confrontations that New York provoked as a participant. Her transition from pauper to queen has resulted in a significant drop in "drama," and the behavior that was the appeal of New York is now so muted that there is little to differentiate her from any other hood rat.
It also doesn't help that the series is way too long. We begin with twenty guys, and by show number five we are already down to seven. It takes another seven episodes to whittle those down to two and get to the ultimate finale, and boy, is it a slog. Very little happens outside of a lot of talk and assurances of "realness," and it gets tiring listening to the men try to establish how tough/masculine/straight they are. VH1 could have whacked half-a-dozen episodes from the series and it would be no worse off.
I Love New York is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The quality looks to be about the same as the initial broadcast, so the episodes are easy on the eyes. The audio offering is a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo track, ensuring that every bit of uncensored profanity and trash-talking comes through loud and clear.
But what happened to the extras? VH1 has previously blessed seasons 1 and 2 of Flavor of Love with loads of goodies, including features, deleted scenes, and previews. In contrast, I Love New York gets the bare-bones treatment (I don't count the reunion episode as an extra, since that was included in the regular broadcast.) This is a real let-down, since there has to be tons of leftover footage lying around, and a lot of it has to be people doing dumb stuff, which is always entertaining.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you love to hate on New York, you can't go wrong with this show. All her warts are on display and viewers will get plenty of chances to score laughs at the lady's expense. Viewers will also get a good giggle at the male "playas" who talk lots of game, but who largely turn out to be broke-ass losers, wannabe actors, or blustery trash-talkers.
Absent of the expected lunacy, I Love New York—The Complete First Season is just a long, drawn-out bore. The exclusion of any supplemental material ensures that VH1 has lost any chance of an appeal.
I gotta call this one "guilty."
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