If there are small pleasures to be had watching C-list celebrities make party jokes of themselves in the backrooms of cable, they are usually of the schadenfreudean kind. You feel just a tiny bit better about your strange, tattered life because their lives are so much stranger, and far more tattered. In looking down, we get a little lift.
But "The Two Coreys," an A&E reality show about 1980s sub-icons Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, may deny us those pleasures. Feldman has remade himself into a clean-freakish family man about whom there is little to laugh at, and Haim is so broken and hungry for mother love, it's downright sad to watch him. Indeed, on "The Two Coreys," which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m., Haim is such a truly lost boy, you may actually feel something for him -- always a no-no on this kind of reality show. He may be too pathetic to enjoy.
The Coreys are conjoined in the public imagination after their movies together in the 1980s, including "The Lost Boys" and "License to Drive." In keeping with the child-star blueprint, both grew up into a life of early faded glory and drug addiction. Feldman has emerged from the haze, more or less, with wife Susie Sprague, son Zen, a taste for animal-rights activism, and a stint on "The Surreal Life." His biggest problem is an addiction to the word "dude."
Haim's process has been much harsher, with years of misbehavior and burned bridges fresh in his wake. The two have remained friendly, but Feldman has become as grounded as Haim is untethered.
For the sake of "The Two Coreys," Haim is living with Feldman and Sprague, and "The Odd Couple" is the model. Feldman is the Felix Unger type, and Haim is the Oscar Madison one, although his messiness isn't just physical. He's a psychological mess, too, with his vulnerabilities hanging out alongside his remorse and his career desperation.
In one scene, Feldman tells Haim that they can't fulfill Haim's dream to make a comeback with a "Lost Boys" sequel, and Haim falls apart. It's like "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" but without the gothic styling and camp.
Haim is also out there when it comes to Sprague. He is extremely possessive of Feldman, and the two men argue about her role in their friendship. "She's not part of the Coreys," Haim whines. "She never will be." Throughout the show, Haim insults Sprague to her face with lines such as, "Susan, have I written you a death threat yet today?," which is Haim's twist on "Have I told you I love you lately?" Permit me to invent the word screepy, which means both sour and creepy.
Maybe Haim's dejection is just the fiction of "The Two Coreys," which is executive produced by the two Coreys and, as they've told the press, semi-scripted. Perhaps the plot arc will find Haim coming out of his depression and gaining the strength to make a comeback. And perhaps Feldman will come down from his throne and stop looking like he's doing Haim a favor just by being with him. Hey, they've got a reality show on A&E, which is something, but nothing to be smug about.