Judge Brett Cullum has love for New York, even though he's not proud of it.
Our review of I Love New York: The Complete First Season, published October 17th, 2007, is also available.
New York (aka, Tiffany Pollard): I thought I was gonna have a dead midget on my hands!
I have an embarrassing admission to make right off the bat, I do have love for New York. She was one of the best reasons to watch Flavor of Love the first two years, and her solo dating show, I Love New York, broke viewer rating records for VH-1. It was the cable outlet's low-rent version of The Bachelorette, and one season just wasn't enough of this guilty "mother f—-king" pleasure. So here we have I Love New York: Season Two wherein New York sorts her way through 20 more eligible bachelors as they clamor for her affection. It was another wild ride that broke records for VH-1 and proved millions of people love trashy reality television.
Facts of the Case
New York (Tiffany Pollard) was a finalist on Flavor of Love not once but twice, and was passed over by Flavor Flav as his ultimate choice both times even when she was one of the last two standing. She always came on to that show like a force of nature, and just as memorable was her mother (Sister Patterson), who made cameos to add to the lunacy. VH-1 decided she should have her own reality dating show, so I Love New York was born. During that first season, she chose an aspiring rapper she had dubbed Tango, and at the season finale he proposed to her. Yet during a reunion special taped months later, Tango announced after watching the show he couldn't marry her. He felt like New York had disrespected him and his mother on camera several times, and his conscience wouldn't let him move forward with the planned nuptials. So New York was single again, and I Love New York: Season Two was full steam ahead.
The show retained the same formula as both the previous year and Flavor of Love before it. Twenty men moved in to a rented mansion, and during each episode they would perform challenges in hopes of winning precious alone time with New York. The casting process wasn't exactly the same, as minor tweaks were added to make things interesting. Internet voting allowed fans to pick five contestants from a web site that provided YouTube-inspired video clips of hopeful suitors to be on the program. New York's mother, Sister Patterson, brought in five of her own picks from the casting pool, which she dubbed "The Momma's Boys." A minor casting change was made when actor Mauricio Chavez did not return to play "Chamo" the gay assistant, and was replaced by New York's hulking bodyguard Anthony or "Big Ant."
The 20 contestants were an interesting mix of bizarre qualities including thug types, moneyed wimps, somewhat average joes, outright nerds, buff gym rats, and even a small guy dubbed "Midget Mac" who quickly became a fan favorite. There were plenty of fights in the house, accusations of being homosexual, drunken antics, a spiritual attack by unseen forces, many indescribably puzzling moments with Sister Patterson, foot sucking, face masks, angry parents, head butts, spitting, and all the expected drama of 20 guys competing over a woman like New York. The show always ends with New York telling someone to "Get the f—k out of my house!," and a guy lamenting his lost shot at love.
This is the lowest of the low on the reality television food chain, but bless VH-1 for daring to be this stupidly entertaining. It's baffling why the show works, but at the center is a bigger-than-life woman who seems to know how to make it all happen. New York is all implants, extensions, make-up, and attitude. Unlike Flavor Flav, she hasn't had a career at anything other than appearances on reality television. Who knows why this many men would go on national television to be her suitor when she herself is just looking for attention and has little to offer outside of what is readily apparent. And yet you can't help but root for her to find someone who will treat her like she wants, and have her back even after the cameras shut off. She curses like a sailor, has an out-of-control ego, and is rude as hell. But in the same breath, she has tons of charisma, is audaciously funny, and seems to know what she wants. It's hard not to love New York, although you have to question why so many are willing to be publicly degraded for the chance. I guess fame is a funny mistress, and many are willing to make fools of themselves for a taste. This is a guilty pleasure form of television that makes Jerry Springer seem highbrow, but like a car crash, you can't help but stare slack jawed at the proceedings. It's funny, but you'll hate yourself for liking it.
I Love New York: Season Two is a three DVD set that includes all the episodes and removes the bleeps for language from the broadcast versions. Transfers are fullscreen and remarkably clear considering the reality roots of the program. Colors are fine for the most part, and there are no digital problems outside of what would normally happen when taping something on the fly. The soundtrack comes over two channel stereo with dialogue coming out clearly enough, and when the levels are too low or too hot, subtitles pop up to help you out. Extras include "The Casting Special" and "The Reunion Special," which were both aired as part of the broadcast run, so nothing that anybody hasn't seen before. There's a "Supertrailer" that simply encapsulates the series in to a short couple of minutes. It's disappointing we don't get deleted scenes, featurettes, or commentaries to support the release.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
You have to question the "reality" of this kind of series. It has been revealed producers seemed to manipulate the Internet voting, and most all of the guys were outed as aspiring entertainers in some form or fashion. Does anybody see this as anything other than an elaborate put on? When decisions seemed especially head-scratching, it's easy to imagine producers coaching the contestants or telling New York who to keep for the sake of conflict. Still, even with all the doubts, in the end New York seemed to make a real connection with the guy ultimately picked for at least a while. As of this writing, they are "living together" outside of New York City. I've heard they still intend to get married, but rumors always pop up that they are parting ways. There were plans by VH-1 to possibly do a reality show following their life together, which was proposed to be called Made in New York, so it seemed everything was fine. Lately though? I've been seeing gossip items that there is indeed trouble in paradise. Confirmed for March of 2008 is a different spin-off in the works where New York seeks fame in Los Angeles called New York Goes Hollywood. Her partner is not set to appear in the show, so one wonders if they are still planning on getting married or if the "showmance" was short lived. We'll just have to wait and see what's real and what's not. Is it all simply theatre of the absurd? Probably so.
I Love New York: Season Two only offers the broadcast shows without bleeps and no extras, but it's still hard to pass it up considering how funny and entertaining it all is. It's not good television by conventional standards, but there is something that makes it entertaining and low-brow fun. I'm not proud about my championing of the show, but there you have the proclamation "I LOVE NEW YORK!" I hope for her sake the questionable romance lasts and stays the distance, but something tells me we haven't seen the last of Tiffany Pollard or Sister Patterson. How can VH-1 ignore the fact this was one of their highest rated series in years? Someone out there still has love for New York, and the chance to exploit that seems irresistible. In the end, New York has chosen her love of fame over any guy at every turn, so the prognosis looks good for an I Love New York: Season Three.
Guilty of being an entertaining mess, and I'm an accomplice for loving New York as much as I do.
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