Breathe in, breathe out, let it go. Seven years into the reality-TV revolution, and seven weeks into "Big Brother 8," there's just no point in outrage. By railing against the reality producers who give us Paris Hilton ridiculing poor people and LaToya Jackson training to be a cop, we're only handing them the attention they crave. When children misbehave, we don't want to reinforce that misbehavior, now do we?
Which is why "Anchorwoman," Fox's new five-part semiscripted reality series, is worth only a deep sigh. The show, which premieres tonight at 8 on Channel 25, has been intentionally built to stir up a lather -- about the desperation of TV news stations, the role of women in TV journalism, and the triumph of eye candy over substance. By putting an inexperienced bimbo behind the anchor desk at a Tyler, Texas, TV station, Fox is merely trying to push the envelope and push your buttons.
For its next stunt, Fox will probably put a bimbo behind the editor's desk at the Wall Street Journal.
The exceedingly blond star of "Anchorwoman" is model Lauren Jones, who has appeared as a "WWE Smackdown" diva and as one of Bob Barker's Beauties on "The Price Is Right." Jones plays her clichéd role to the hilt, which is clear early on, when she paints her toenails pink while driving her car. Acting like both a cheerleader and a porn star, teasing her sleek mane to create what she calls "Texas hair," delivering kooky lines such as "I'm just gonna go down there and, like, do the news," Jones is a contemporary version of Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday." She leaves her notebook in her car on the first day of work, she wears a leopard print top that leaves nothing to the imagination, and she blows kisses to the camera during rehearsals.
Jones has been brought to KYTX by general manager Phil Hurley, to goose the ratings and get people talking. Naturally, many of the legitimate journalists at the station are upset, notably anchor Annalisa Petralia, who is concerned about "credibility" and "integrity." At one point, Petralia praises a female colleague who didn't get the anchor job that went to Jones: "You're great," she says to her colleague, and then adds, "And you're beautiful." It's a touching moment, although it's odd, too; surely Petralia knows that the hiring of Jones is simply a stunt. Jones never would have gotten the job without the contract between Fox and KYTX. Perhaps Petralia has been coached to play The Ethical Woman.
In one scene, we see some of the techies at KYTX betting on whether Jones will bomb on the air. But there's little question for the viewers of "Anchorwoman" about what will happen. Naturally, the show will show Jones triumphing. The goal of "Anchorwoman" is to remind us that sex appeal remains powerful and seductive, and that it works even on local television. Sigh. That's not exactly breaking news.