While waiting for the State of the Union address (we do a 24 hour party beforehand) I screened “There and Back” for a few of the people wandering around the estate hopped up on meth.
Folks, the results were Amazing. The crowd went wild. None of us could believe the stupendous work of Ashley Parker Angel as himself, or his pregnant girlfriend also playing herself. Judging from that blank look on your face you’ve never heard of, seen or guzzled “There and Back”. Perhaps I should back up and explain what the hell “There and Back” is and why it’s so important to America, nay, the entire galaxy.
“There and Back” is a reality show based upon the life of Ashley Parker Angel, former O-Town member. You know, O-Town.. the guys with the song about calling the girl on the phone? They were like 98 Degrees but less huge. Hmmm.. it seems we should start all the way back at the start of this saga with a little show called “Making the Band”.
O-Town was a boy band that specialized in what I like to call “cheese pop”, that form of music which serious music aficionados affectionately call “crap”. O-Town used to sing and dance (and practice singing and dancing) for “Making The Band,” a show about making a band. Their music (written by moguls) was mostly about how sad they were you left them or how much they truly wanted you back. Sometimes they’d combine both themes into one super song. Clearly they were a revolutionary force destined for greatness. I happily tuned in weekly to say things like “These guys suck” or “Quit hogging the za.” Often times we’d eat pizza while watching O-Town in what became known as “Za-O-Town Tuesday”.
Sadly they were broken up after one album and I assumed they went off to boy band heaven in the sky, where non threatening sex symbols were allowed to frolic freely with twelve year girls in peace. No, I’m not sure if the shrill screaming of pre-pubescents emanates from those clouds, it’s not my heaven. The show “Making the Band” was taken over by luminary Renaissance man P-Diddy. He changed the format to creating a rap group (which failed) and then switched it up to forming an R&B band (which I believe is currently failing). On a side note, If you wanted to see a good show about making a band I think P-Diddy tackling a country band would have been more interesting. “Can we make the second verse less twangy and more like the sounds of the streets… er farms?”
This brings us to Mr. Ashley Parker Angel his own self. As I said, he was chilling with O-Town, they were disbanded, he faded into obscurity. Simple cause and effect and our saga should end there, nice and neat. But as it turns out, he HE WAS NOT still kickin’ it (roofdown), he was going spectacularly broke and looking to make a comeback as a Serious Artist. Now, you may think with my tone so far I’m going to knock this decision or the show but that is not the case. Ashley Parker Angel was a boy bander, is now sort of reformed and is clearly passionate about music. It sets up the perfect storm; an earnest hero who was a tool trying to defy expectations.
In one of the early shows Ash Park Ang checks his bank account and finds a -$27.45 residing there. He’s living in a smallish apartment with his knocked up girlfriend and her godforsaken mom. He’s working on a new record but they won’t give him an advance because he’s got a girl’s name. No, seriously, I’m pretty sure they won’t give him an advance because you don’t give money to dudes who used to be in a boy band. That type of bet doesn’t pay off unless you are one Justin Timberlake.
Okay, back to the show and reasons to watch and like it. Ashley is clearly a nice chap. He says dumb things sometimes, he does dumb things sometimes, but he’s always honest and good hearted. He’s the kind of guy you can really pull for. From the outset of you can tell the chips are stacked against him as no one in history has crossed over from cheese to pop effectively. The pregnant girlfriend is another great aspect; she’s occasionally supportive and occasionally homicidal. She is LARGE, she looked like a model previously but her belly is so big you think she’s going to burst. She puts up with APA’s shenanigans about being a creative soul, while trying to fight off back pain. He sings her an acoustic song on the beach for their anniversary and you can’t help but pull for these crazy kids.
There is also this innovative part of the show in which Ashley steps out of certain scenes and talks about what’s going on. In other words he’ll be in the middle of a fight with “senorita preggers”, the moment will pause, he’ll turn to the camera and say “This chick is killing me. I’m thinking of getting a tire iron and finishing her off just to get some sleep.” Okay, he doesn’t say that, he says something undeniably sweet but I wanted you to get the idea. He’s always in the exact same outfit when these “pauses” occur which I haven’t quite figured out how they do yet. Technical wizardry, you know no bounds!
Another reason to watch is you get to find out what happened to the rest of O-Town. It is a cautionary tale to say the least. These were guys that toured the world and made some nice dough that have been reduced to rubble. One guy is doing construction. Another finds out from the Internet that his concert has been cancelled. Think of how low you’d have to be to find out a show you were in was cancelled and nobody even bothered to tell you. He looks at the computer monitor and says, “It’s just embarrassing to me.” Testify, bro, we feel you.
The final reason to watch is a relatively good chance of a happy ending. I don’t know about you, but every time MTV has followed me around, my career tended to blossom. Ashley Parker Angel’s new album hasn’t been released yet but I’m guessing the show will culminate in some type of heroic rise up the charts. I’m also guessing the gal will have the baby or explode. Hopefully the mom will get her own place and Diddy will energetically form country sensation “Theze Cowz are Mooin'”.
Hey, wait a sec, reality TV with sweetness and a happy ending? That’s just what the doctor ordered for a nation of folks that had to put up with the state of the union all hopped up on meth.
To check out the official site for the show click here. You can check it out on MTV Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.