A few weeks ago I was cat-sitting for an American family and they had a television with cable. A nice, decent-sized TV with a remote control and everything. It’s not that I don’t watch TV—I certainly do. But I stream shows on my laptop the 21st century way. There are its advantages: no commercials, I can watch whatever I want whenever I want, and it’s really NBD if I’m not home to watch something at a certain time. I don’t even know what time my favorite shows are even on because I’m just not about that life (LOL Emily Egan). But there is something oh-so-nice about watching TV the old fashioned way, sitting there with the remote lodged in my hand so I can change channels at the slightest hint of commercial break.
Sorry! I get so carried away with nostalgia now that I’m in my early twenties. ANYWAY, I sat down with the cat and the remote and started flipping. Belgian cable is extremely uninspiring. There are French and Flemish game shows, lots of BBC and British shows, and then American shows dubbed in French or subtitled in Dutch. I guess this doesn’t sound awful, but really, there was nothing on. Except for NEXT! NEXT was a dating show back in MTV’s dating show golden era of around 2004/2005. I’m talking Date My Mom, Room Raiders, Dismissed, Parental Control.
‘Ever wish you could bail in the middle of a bad date? Well, NEXT is the MTV show that lets you do just that. We’ll set you up on 5 dates. The minute you get annoyed, angry or just plain bored, simply kick ’em to the curb by saying “NEXT”, and start over with someone new. Don’t feel too bad for the ones you give the boot. They’ll get cash for every minute they last and the one who makes it to the end gets a chance to turn the tables. They can choose to go on a second date with you or take the money and run. So be careful what you do, because sooner or later you could be the one hearing the word “NEXT.”‘ (mtv.com)
The best thing about the show is that the producers obviously give the contestants the cheesiest lines to say, and the voiceover always makes the lamest play-on-words or disses about the contestants. For example, on a date at a yard sale, this conversation goes down:
Christian: I’d choose this couch, it looks better to lounge out on.
Vanessa: Unfortunately Christian, that looks like a Married…With Children reject. So I guess you just sold yourself…to the NEXT bus.
Christian: I guess we’re not getting married with children! Stomps off huffing and puffing
Christian’s comeback (thanks to the producers, this guy never could have come up with this epic jab on his own): I like stuff that’s been worn and used! Christina would have been perfect for me! Ouch!! Sizzlah!
Snarky narrator: This kid’s poor choice in furniture made Vanessa reupholster her date. Looks like Chris is up next. (Chris doesn’t change his underwear for weeks, it’s one of his three little known facts. So and he gets nexted immediately. But he did make a buck!)
It’s Mike’s turn, a guy who is really into sports and chooses some golf clubs at the tag sale.
Narrator: “Will Mike’s choice be a hole in one, or will Vanessa declare this date is done?…”
Vanessa does give Mike the ax… enter Snarky narrator: “The golf clubs won’t get sold…because they made Mike seem way too old!”
Later on, Vanessa has finally found a guy she likes, and they sit down for lemonade.
Dude: So, like what do you like to do for fun?
Vanessa: Well I like to go to clubs and house parties and stuff. I’ve got a preeeeety good list of crazy stories.
Dude: Oh nice, what’s your craziest?
Vanessa: Let’s just say it had to do with a videocamera in a supermarket with a super hot, like, blond girl and her boyfriend.
Dude: Uhh, were you involved with that?
Vanessa: Somewhat, I was producing it, yea! So ya know…So what do you look for in a girl?
Dude: You know, personality.
Vanessa: Do you look for big tits?
Vanessa: Are you an ass man?
Dude: I’m half Cherokee, a little white, and a little bit black.
Vanessa: Are you black in all the right places?
Dude: Wanna see it?
I’m not even making this stuff up.
While I love NEXT and I think it’s a great dating show, this is obviously why people hate Americans. All the kids on this show are from Southern California, and, I don’t mean to hate, but they sound like it. Oh, kewl, ok yea great, umm no I don’t thiynk so…Yea brah, I mean she Nexted me before she even checked out my six-pack man, I mean like, what the f*ck dude? Not that I speak the Queen’s English here or anything but these people sound like such bimbos. And I love it.
PBS has done an awesome job at documenting different American accents. They explain that the reason Cali English (of the white folk) sounds sort of elongated and overly enthusiastic is because Californians are playing “musical chairs” with their vowels:
“In the speech of white people in California, as in many parts of the west, the vowels of hock and hawk, cot and caught, are pronounced the same—so awesome rhymes with possum. Also notable is the movement of the vowels in boot and boat (called back vowels because they are pronounced in the back of the mouth). These vowels all have a tendency to move forward in the mouth, so that the vowel in dude or spoon (as in gag mewith a…) sounds a little like the word you, or the vowel in pure or cute. Also, boat andloan often sound like bewt and lewn—or eeeeuuw….Finally, the vowel in but and cut is also moving forward so that these words sound more like bet and ket. These are all part of the commonly imitated California surfer speech.”
Anyway, when I was watching NEXT in Belgium on this fateful day, I noticed that they were softly playing the English version, and then having the French dubbing over it, so it was sort of hard to concentrate. But I could notice that tons of the American slang and filler conversation was skipped over. It was untranslatable nonsense. Unfortunately a lot of the subtle or play-on-words jokes got lost in translation, but there were just a lot of words that just seemed so American that they really just breezed over them in the dubbings.
Well, I was happy to find out later that France, Spain, Canada and some other places all have their own versions of NEXT. I know we’re not the only country with trashy reality TV (let’s remind ourselves that Survivor and Big Brother were both created somewhere in Scandinavia), but we’re the only ones who get dubbed and broadcasted worldwide. And then people watch it and they think they know what America is. They think they know, but they have no idea…ohhhh!!!
Also, I once watched The Jersey Shore in French. I just don’t have the words to write about it.
“Jason had Charity check herself, but she already wrecked herself. Brooke’s up next.” Of course Brooke is up next.