You know who needs a reality series? Judge David Johnson. Trust me, if you like fistfights and run-ins with the law, you won't be disappointed.
Who's house? Run's house!
What's this? A reality show from MTV that doesn't feature wanton sex and debauchery?!? The planets are imploding!
Facts of the Case
Joe "DJ Run" Simmons, now Rev Run after being ordained by Zoe Ministries as a reverend, has let the MTV cameras into his palatial new Jersey estate to give viewers a look at how he and his wife Justine maintain their large family and all the challenges therein. This set brings the first two seasons, totaling 16 episodes in all (six from the first season, ten from the second), spread over three discs:
This is a charming little show and something that took me by surprise. As a departure from the usual beer-soaked boink-fests that populate MTV's reality TV lineup, Run's House offers something I never though I'd write: MTV actually has some wholesome family programming!
The anchor of the show is Rev Run himself, a dedicated and loving father who honestly tries his hardest at parenting. He's a good dad, though, but he doesn't have all the answers, and part of the fun of Run's House is his wrangling with decisions about raising his children and his relationship with his wife. Rev Run doesn't have the personality quirks that made the other reality-show dad, Ozzy Osbourne, infamous, but his shtick also doesn't grow old as quickly as Ozzy's. Rev Run is a down-to-earth guy (at least on the show) and his authenticity helps sell the premise. Supporting him is soft-spoken Justine, a committed wife and mother who is not afraid to call her husband out, making for a satisfying couple's dynamic. The kids aren't overwrought characters either, and actually struck me as fairly "normal." There were very few outbreaks of bombastic spoiled, clueless rich kid antics and the problems and challenges Rev's offspring encountered probably aren't that much different than the typical trials of a family of seven; the young boys break their stuff, don't get dress in time for church, fight, squabble, pick fights, idolize their dopey older brother and tend to be generally annoying. It's with these kids, Diggy and Russy that Rev finds the most trouble with discipline and parenting.
The Simmons family lends itself to a variety of parenting grist for Rev to chew on. Besides his maneuvering with the boys, Rev deals with JoJo, his sometimes mouthy 16-year-old son who's looking to follow his superstar dad's footsteps, Angela, his second oldest daughter itching to move on with her life, and Vanessa, the eldest and an up and coming model, which gives Rev a whole new breed of ulcers. They each have their own idiosyncrasies, giving Rev a large canvas to exert his fatherly skills on and it pays off because he's such an interesting and authentic personality. Backing up Rev and his family is Run's brother, Russell Simmons, the hip-hop and Phat Farm mogul and an interesting character in his own right. He and Rev are close (and competitive, as evidenced in one hard-nosed game of a one-on-one) and constantly exchange advice. Russell is a bit more, er, colorful, than his reverend brother and that juxtaposition pays off with the most laughs of each episode.
Overall, this is a solid little series. The family is more "real" than most characters you'll find on other reality shows, and there's a definite feeling of camaraderie and love amongst the Simmonses. Rev Run is fine father, though he doesn't have it all figured out and he's not too thick-headed to ignore that fact. Aside from a few bleeps courtesy of Uncle Russell, there isn't anything offensive to be found here and I'd recommend it for family viewing.
The show receives the full frame treatment, and the episodes, filmed digitally, look very good. Following each show is a recap with the Simmons family, featuring extended scenes, interviews with family members and parenting tips from the Rev.
It's Run's House, but if you're looking for an honest, inoffensive peek into the lives of a celebrity family that appears to have their @#$% together, the welcome mat is out.
Not guilty. Rev, can I get an amen?
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