Modern Day Munsters: MTV’s The Osbournes

Rich people have money. Aside from that, they’re basically just like you and me, and nothing quite compares to watching them perform painfully ordinary tasks.

Modern Day Munsters: MTV’s The Osbournes

Rich people have money. Aside from that, they’re basically just like you and me, and nothing quite compares to watching them perform painfully ordinary tasks. Perhaps that’s why The Osbournes, MTV’s reality-based dramedy about Ozzy and his lovely wife Sharon and their two even lovelier children, has become one of the “music” channel’s most popular shows: At close to 6 million viewers per week (and growing), it’s even more popular than The Real World. Mum washes the dishes. Kelly has an appointment with the gynecologist. Jack goes away to camp. Ozzy struggles to, well, to do just about everything: change the channel on the television, turn on the vacuum cleaner, walk, talk. Amid the pointed obscenities and heated arguments, their love for one another is palatable, especially when challenged by those outside their gothic Beverly Hills mansion (see episode four, where Sharon’s protective maternal instincts kick in: “They don’t own this fucking street. I’ll get a fucking pig’s head from the butchers and throw it over the fence!”). The Osbournes are modern-day Munsters, with Melinda the nanny as Marilyn. But surely the best new reality television show can’t last forever. After all, Dad could use a stay at the clinic and Kelly will soon be off to university. To prepare for the impending withdrawal, Slant takes a look at some other famous families worthy of MTV’s attention:

The Ritchies. While notorious for her self-exposure, Madonna has been rather low-key since her marriage to film director Guy Ritchie in 2000. A Truth or Dare-style miniseries could quell rumors of marital power struggles (five-year-old daughter Lola no doubt wears the pants in this family) and give us all insight into the Lady of the Manor’s newfound interest in countrywear and pheasant-hunting. See Madonna show up on Robert Altman’s doorstep dressed in 1930s street urchin garb, vying for a role in Return to Gosford Park! See her commission the hottest Afghan techno producers for her upcoming album! On the other hand, with faux accents and businesslike family meetings replacing oral sex demonstrations on bottled water, the Ritchies could prove to be the least interesting celebrity family ever.

The Gests. Much like their wedding, a show chronicling the day-to-day activities of Liza Minnelli and her new wife, David Gest, would be a veritable freakshow. And like her mother’s famous television show, imagine the houseguest possibilities: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and bridesmaid Mya, making an inappropriate appearance on Santa Gest’s lap for the show’s Christmas Special. While the thrice-divorced Minnelli has no children of her own, she and Gest plan to adopt no less than four orphans when they return from their honeymoon. It might be a bit much for the TRL contingent, but maybe Gest could pitch the idea to VH1.


The Browns. See their desperate jaunts to Newark back alleys, coked-up domestic disputes, and multiple trips to the local ER. And that’s all before noon. Whitney and Bobby could put the tabloid fodder to rest (or not) by giving us a glimpse inside their New Jersey home. After a string of cancelled appearances (including Minnelli’s wedding), Nippy could also prove to the world that she is indeed alive (rumors of her death began to fly after an all-collar-bones performance last year at Michael Jackson’s tribute to himself). The couple is the MTV generation’s Ike and Tina, only Whitney insists “it’s not right, but it’s okay.”

The Jacksons. Michael Jackson fathered two children. Scary, right? Not as scary as watching him raise them on that Neverland Valley Ranch once a week for half an hour. Next week’s episode: Michael desperately tries to convince Prince, 4, and Paris, 3, that the black man in the picture really is Daddy and Janet stops by for a coffee enema only to stumble across a barefoot and bloodshot Elizabeth Taylor hissing, “What…a…dump!”

The Thorntons. Billy Bob and his bride, Angelina Jolie, have just adopted a Cambodian boy named Maddox. The couple is currently searching for property in Cambodia, and what better place to shoot The Angie and Billy Bob Show? The location would be ideal for Tomb Raider-like adventures with cameos by Jon Voight, James Haven Voight, and Laura Dern. Think of the crossover potential when Liza Minnelli, David Gest, and Michael Jackson all claim to have had first dibs on little Maddox.


Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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