90s House: The Worst Show That I Ever Loved

It should have been the hottest reality show of the season. Instead, it was such a train wreck I had to write about it.

I’m a huge fan of MTV’s The Challenge. Tuesday nights are for Tiffany and I to forget about the awful world for an hour and watch trash television. It’s my only remaining exposure to MTV and I’m okay with that. I hope Johnny Bananas does the show until he’s 60.
90s house promo
The show includes ads for all of MTV’s terrible shows and they never hold any appeal to me. In particular, the Teen Mom series and spin-offs are such a horrible message to be out there for kids that I really wish they’d scrap that nonsense.

However, one ad caught our eye from the jump – the 90’s House! How could this go wrong? I’m a 90’s kid! My friends and I talk all the time about how different life is for kids now with technology. I was born in 1982, so my teenage years coincided with the emergence of the Internet and AOL chat. I knew how this affected me, so I was instantly intrigued by how today’s youth would deal in that environment.

Of course, that’s what the ads promised. In actuality, the show delivered a generic competition with uninterested hosts, terrible decisions and contestants lacking in charisma. Yet that wasn’t even my biggest problem with the show (and yes I watched every second of every episode…)

What About The 90’s?

The series began with the dramatic reveal that all of the contestants had to give up all of their technology. This was played up as a huge deal and the uniqueness of the 90’s House – how will these kids live without social media? Each contestant gave their own camera interview, talking about how desperately they need to be on Twitter or Instagram to survive.

It was then never addressed again. Seriously! Over the course of the next 7 episodes, not one word was uttered from one cast member about not being on social media. The only implication came when an eliminated contestant would retrieve their smartphone and check for messages. That was it.

Similarly, the challenges usually had only a tangential relation to the 90’s, and even those were strained. In episode 3, Bill Bellamy arrived to help the contestants with a “pick up” challenge where they had to get people’s phone numbers in a bar. That’s the 90’s?

In the fourth episode, they made movie posters. Really? They don’t make movie posters anymore?

During one challenge, the contestants had to dress up as famous celebrities. Yet one, as Janet Jackson, talked about Rhythm Nation. That album was released in 1989. No one seemed to noticed. Except me, and I felt a million years old.

So essentially, the 90’s House was a generic reality show with the contestants wearing 90’s clothes. I could still enjoy that. I desperately wanted to. Yet the producers kept messing up…

Losing a Star in Trevanna

The first episode centered on a Trevanna King, an extremely slender woman from the Pacific Northwest who spoke urban and had a distinct aversion to snakes. She spent the first episode constantly complaining about snakes, until she screamed about how much she didn’t like snakes to the point it scared her:

She was a star. Her first challenge as a team leader was comically bad. During the elimination, she went off on a further competitor with a speech about what she brought to the table that should be taught in public speaking classes – just an absolute tour de force.

Of course, she was eliminated in the first episode. What were they thinking?!? You build up one person, who had the most charisma in the house by a mile, and you eliminate her immediately? At least they wouldn’t make that mistake again….

Losing a Villain in Mark

Mark was a blonde dork with glasses who really, really wanted the 90’s House to turn him into a star. He came with a plan, too. Even though he was really cool and smooth (in his own eyes), he was going to “pretend” to be a wussy loser who cried all the time. His plan – as stated – was to fool the other players into thinking he was weak so they would keep him around.

I have to be honest. His plan made absolute no sense, yet I so desperately wanted to see it play out. Of course, we didn’t because the producers cut his storyline off right when it was getting good.
90s house loser mark
Episode 3 climaxed with Mark on the chopping block with one other person – Lexus. The show had eliminated one person in the first two weeks. Before the hosts announced who was being cut, Mark was called out by his fellow contestants for “acting” as they saw through his bullshit. Mark answered back and, well, it was game on. Lexus was eliminated and Mark celebrated so hard his glasses went flying.

Wait, what?

Yes, in the show’s third episode ever, they went with a shocking double elimination. It was stupid on every conceivable level. For one, a show needs to build up some goodwill with the audience before doing a double elimination – I’ve watched enough reality TV to know these things need to be special. This was shocking for the sake of being shocking.

Still, the more stupid part was that we all wanted to see Mark get his! In any other reality show, Mark stays on and the entire next episode is focused on the other cast mates trying to get rid of the villain they all hate. That’s reality TV 101! Instead, they instantly got rid of Mark without any payoff. No plotting. No maneuvering. No build up. He was just gone. And we never saw his plan take shape.

Well, at least the producers wouldn’t make that mistake again…

Losing a Lover in Patrick

Jesus Christ, they did it again. Sierra was the token “hot” chick and Patrick was the token “dumb guy” who fell in love with her. It would be sweet if it wasn’t so stupid. Of course, if you’ve watched reality TV, you know where this is going – they eventually made out in the shower. Finally, The 90’s House had a romantic angle going on.

Frankly, I was rooting for Patrick since he spent the majority of the first four episodes pining for Sierra and talking about how she was. Good for that guy. I was instantly curious how that relationship would…
90s house patrick lover
Whoops! Nevermind. Patrick was eliminated about 20 minutes after they kissed. Storyline over. Romance over.

The most maddening aspect of these pointless eliminations is that the cast was not voting on who went home – the hosts, presumably the producers, decided. These were unforced errors! They continually sent home the most interesting person each week, to the point where it started to feel like they were trying to tank the show. It certainly seemed like no one gave a crap.

Christina Milian Card-Read Good

I learned later that 90’s House was initially going to be hosted by Lance Bass and air on VH1. Something happened, the show’s debut was delayed and it ended up on MTV with Christian Milian as a co-host. Maybe she appeals to today’s MTV viewer?

Regardless, Lance showed up from the first episode in pure IDGAF mode. His outfits were absurd. His lines were delivered in a consistent, over-the-top manner of a man who had stopped caring. During a dance challenge to an ‘NSync song, Lance and old pal Joey Fatone spent the episode laughing and cringing at the embarrassing spectacle in front of them.

Christina, on the other hand, well, she was trying. She always appeared serious. She tried to portray the image of a real television host. There was one small problem – she never learned her lines.

Every time she was on camera, her eyes would dart to the left or right to read cue cards, like a second-rate SNL host. It was jarring because she wasn’t saying anything important. They couldn’t reshoot? They couldn’t make her remember her lines?

It was an embarrassing spectacle and it certainly didn’t help the show’s ratings, which must have been microscopic

The Indignity of MTV2

The 90’s House aired after The Challenge for its first four weeks, making 10pm to midnight on Tuesdays a happy time in our apartment. Then in week five, our guide revealed there was no 90s House at 11pm. The show had been, no, wait, cancelled??

It was even worse. It had been banished to MTV2, where it aired on Fridays at 8 p.m. in standard definition to close out its run.

The end was so pathetic, as the finale included actual stars like Michelle Williams, Tyson Beckford and Tatyana Ali. It become very evident that the guest stars knew they were watching a train wreck. The finale consisted of the three finalists lip-synching to 90’s songs and it felt like I was revisiting my high school talent show. It was that bad.

As it progressed, Tatyana Ali sat there from the judges table with a blank, confused star on her face. I knew exactly what she was thinking, because I had the same thought:

“Why am I watching this right now?”

I didn’t have a good answer, because I assumed she was getting paid.

As the show concluded, I realized I would miss it. I want another 90’s House, with better producers, better cast and better hosts. It was a million-dollar idea ruined by ten-cent execution.

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