On the surface, "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll" is just another stupid, derivative, vulgar and lame reality show.
But when you listen to the people who produce the show and see how The CW is marketing it, it becomes utterly disgusting.
For you (parents) who are unfamiliar with the Dolls, they began as a burlesque act minimally attired young women dancing suggestively onstage. In recent years, they've begun singing as well, belting out lyrics like, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?"
And yet the people behind the TV show went out of their way to tell TV critics recently that this was a show all about "empowering" women. The narration at the beginning of tonight's premiere (8 p.m., Ch. 30) intones, "The Pussycat Dolls are all about female empowerment."
So what about the fact that they're dressed like they're working a street corner in Hollywood and singing lyrics that the word "suggestive" doesn't adequately describe?
"It's something that's aspirational (sic) and fun for a woman to be involved in," said executive producer McG, who went on to say being a Doll is "sort of like a snapshot of the contemporary woman being everything she can be."
"There's nothing slutty about it. There's nothing skanky about it," insisted Robin Antin, who created the group.
An interesting interpretation, given that they sing, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?" and "I know you should be (expletive) with me."
How is this celebrating women?
McG was very much on the defensive. "I don't think that's a particularly fair question," he said.
He went on to assert that the problem isn't with the Dolls, it's with the critics who don't understand teenage girls. (So I asked several teenage girls to give me their quick impressions of the Pussycat Dolls. Their responses included several slang terms for "prostitute.")
"It's very simple," said executive producer/judge Ron Fair. "Putting those kinds of phrases into pop songs makes it OK to say that. ... And what we mean by 'empowering' is putting catchy songs into the universe that become hit records that people can cut loose to on Friday after a long week at work. It is empowering to just chill out and dance to the song."
That, of course, is utter baloney. But then Fair has apparently completely lost all touch with reality he compared the Dolls to Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Really.
Of course, he wasn't alone in proving he's utterly out of touch with most of America. McG defended the Dolls by dropping names like Charlize Theron, Johnny Depp, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani, who "want to be a part of it." Really.
Frankly, hearing the producers defend the indefensible made me want to throw up. As we see, various contestants do in tonight's episode.
Gross, but oddly symbolic.
For any parents to let their impressionable teens or preteens watch this show under any circumstances would be a mistake. To let them watch it and hear about how behaving like the Pussycat Dolls "empowers" women would be reprehensible.As is the show.