Touched by God

The sacred and the profane in this week’s reality TV
By JAMES PARKER  |  November 2, 2006

ODD COUPLE: Rarely is the banter between Rob and Big free from an oily undertone of bitchdom.

Last time, in a weakly alliterative moment, I promised that this column would return to the “dysfunction and doggy-do” of House of Carters, the E! Channel show in which Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and his pop-moppet brother Aaron are quarantined with three of their sisters and various loose-boweled terriers and shih tzus in a house in the Hollywood Hills. Was it gratifying, then, for me to switch on Episode 5 (“Everybody Hates Carter”) and find the house’s mettlesome inmates actually tossing dogshit at one another? Not so much. The show’s dramatic axis is the aggro between big brother Nick, puffy with righteousness, and tear-away bag-of-bones Aaron, and this one was all about the sisters, who were fighting — B.J. and Angel versus Leslie. They fought in the bowling alley (“Nick! Look what she just did! She fucking kicked my purse!”); they fought in the kitchen (“I’ll slit your throat! A knife is way better than a spoon, bitch!”); and they fought, finally, in the hallways, which were lined as usual with the unscooped droppings of their vagrant pets. It was thoughtful of Angel, as the turds flew, to enquire of her outgunned sister, “Leslie, why are you so depressed?”

Elsewhere in the Hollywood Hills (which are to reality TV what the San Fernando Valley is to porn) we find an unlikely pair of roommates: pro skater Rob Dyrdek and 300-pound Christopher “Big Black” Boykin, his “bodyguard and best friend.” Best friend my ass. MTV’s Rob & Big, which premieres tonight (November 2) at 10:30, is a highly self-conscious and rather subversive piece of reality theater. Dyrdek is a skinny white kid from Ohio burbling away in a groovy Esperanto of skate backchat and hip-hop fraudulence; Boykin is vast and black, heavy all over, and cheerfully in the pocket of this callow youth-culture mogul. His brief, we’re told, is to stop the squares from hassling Dyrdek while he skates the gnarly spots: in fact he is Dyrdek’s butler (even down to the Jeevesian preparation of a hangover cure), his amanuensis, and his psychosexual big daddy.

Rarely is their odd-couple banter free from an oily undertone of bitchdom. During a conversation about Boykin’s taste for large women Dyrdek notes wistfully that he himself weighs only 135 pounds: “I’m not even on your radar,” he says. “If we was both locked up,” Boykin assures him, “you’d definitely be on my radar.” Later, in the park, a girl wonders whether the two of them are gay. “C’mon, do you think that would physically be possible?” asks Dyrdek. “I’d whip him like Ike whipped Tina,” Boykin growls contentedly, as if only the economics of the situation and his own good nature were preventing him from giving Dyrdek a solid jailhouse seeing-to.

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