Life of Judge Daniel Kelly was bought by MTV, but then they remembered fat lazy dudes are not an ideal subject.
"I can't deal with all this drama"—Ryan Sheckler
I really don't like reality TV. I really don't like whiny teenagers. I really don't like glossy pap pushed by MTV, and as for skateboarding, I'm indifferent at best. However if any of those things push your buttons, then Life of Ryan: The Complete Series is about the best DVD you'll see all year, because it's got everything mentioned above in grossly excessive quantities. The collection features all three seasons of the show, the last season only half finished as the program was eventually cancelled halfway through its production. Still 29 episodes of this stuff is really quite enough.
Ryan Sheckler isn't your average 17-year-old boy. Since the age of 13 he's been a professional skateboarder, picking up prizes and endorsements like a homeless guy collects empty vodka bottles. Ryan has a tight group of friends but his family is going up in flames. His mother and father are enduring a painfully labored divorce and as a result Ryan and his younger brothers are feeling the burn. Amidst all this emotional carnage, Ryan also has a career to focus on, and to ensure that with success he doesn't bring upon himself the evils that have toppled many a promising young athlete.
It's been proven time and time again that there is a serious market for reality TV; some inherent desire lurks inside people's mind that makes them obscenely curious concerning the lives of the rich and famous. Obviously it's a relatively new craze to complement a relatively new surveillance society, but it's a sort of entertainment I fear I'll never understand. Life of Ryan is basically all the things I can't grip about the reality phenomenon thrown into one package, a group of irritating people living in glamorous and privileged settings yet still finding small problems to incessantly moan about. It's also a remarkably dull experience: for the first two seasons at least, everything seems routed in a trance in which the same conflicts and life points continually rise. I mean if you're going to make a reality TV show, at least spice things up with a bit of variety.
The various people who populate the show are mostly douchebags. Ryan isn't a total lost cause thanks to his natural charisma, and his mom Gretchen is levelheaded and agreeable, but virtually everyone else is a massive annoyance. Ryan's friends are arrogant and chauvinist whist the various girls they eye up during the series take their strikingly misogynistic advances as some sort of warped compliment. His youngest brother is clearly being pitched as cute but just ends up an irritation in that gee-wizz sort of way, whilst the father figure is so hot and cold to everything around him that it becomes practically impossible to care about his life or opinions. It's hard to tell if this is an accurate portrayal of the young sportsman's life or simply a staged and entirely synthetic imitation. For his sake I can only hope it's the latter.
There are however a few nice things to be said about the series. The setting in California is strikingly beautiful whilst some of the skateboarding sections are remarkable given the skill involved. The stories feel fraudulent and flat but you can tell there is nothing fake about the athletic side of Ryan displayed. However does this counterbalance the fact he complains about everything, I mean the amount of time the boy sits and whines about women and his piggish chums is insane. Plus I wouldn't be surprised if all the cool skating stuff can't be legally pulled up on the internet anyway.
The show might have more value, if it dealt with some of the emotional situations in a genuine fashion, but sadly MTV seems to favor blunt melodramatics over anything with an iota of truth or depth. This along with the ugly personalities and banal developments are why I'm ardently not recommending Life of Ryan. The DVD comes with a few skating videos, but again if you troll the Internet, I guarantee something just as good will be there. The sound and video quality are also, for the record, less than exemplary.
Another in a long line of glossy MTV eggs. Guilty.
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