If you’re a regular reader here at Are You Screening?, that title alone is going to demand a bit of explanation, and I’m inclined to give it to you. We’ll see how it goes.
Among the latest crop of shows to partake of the theory that as long as living human beings are in front of the camera, there are, ipso facto, “real” people in front of the camera, and therefore you can call yourself reality television, is the CW‘s High Society. Basically, it’s the Tinsley Mortimer show, with other New York socialites (or whatever) being involved by way of some connection to Tinsley, whether that be friend, enemy, or frenemy (I could watch Gossip Girl).
Notable members of the cast include- Paul Johnson Calderon, actually billed on the show as “Page Six Scandal Boy,” and Jules Kirby, actually billed on the show as “trust-fund partier.” The former apparently has some vague connection to Tinsley, but largely exists on the show in order to brazenly feature some obnoxiously-entitled je ne sais quoi. Like most people on the show (and all shows in the genre), his claim to fame seems to be that he claims fame. As for the latter, Ms. Kirby, she is apparently on the show because enough people hate her to provide drama, and she’s at least clever enough to walk and hurl slurs at the same time.
We watch as these pseudo-humans worry their designer handbags into dust over the world’s most pressing problems, like who got invited to what, and hilarity ensues. Having made peace with the idea that a ratings point is a ratings point, and there’s no differentiation between tuning in because you’re a true fan in some sense, or simply because The Soup doesn’t air full episodes, the CW is content to put out whatever works, no matter why it works.
It is only watchable for its train-wreckiness, and as Variety said, “Seldom has a series more blatantly telegraphed its intentions to be train-wreck TV.” From creepy and uncomfortable “Tinsley and ‘Mommy'” scene, to the simply deplorable, frankly inhuman behavior of Jules Kirby, it is almost as though Joel McHale were involved with production to ensure the right things make it to air.
Frequent reader or not, you are probably at least somewhat curious by now about my interviewing another member of High Society‘s cast, Devorah Rose.
You might imagine that an opportunity to interview her would raise an eyebrow, but Devorah’s press kit included a quote which called High Society, “a train-wreck of epic proportions.”
That alone made me willing to find out, to some extent anyway, what was going on with this show. Not twenty minutes later I was hooked, and it all came down to one thing really – I could not figure out who anyone else on the show was.
So, the quote got me started. Finding the show to be a train-wreck is not a level of awareness you expect from people who are actually on the show. And, she also said, “It’s an extremely entertaining show to watch because everyone in it is so crazy!” My sentiments exactly, to tell the truth, but not what you often hear from the cast.
Then I found out she had a job. More to the point, I could find some answer to the question, “Yes, but who is she?”
Adding to my interest was the farcical portrayal of this “villain” on the show. I mean, it seems we’re supposed to get behind disliking her, but I’m not sure I can ferret out why. There’s no gossip about a sex tape being spread around. She didn’t claim to catch her working in a brothel, or wearing white before Armistice Day (or whatever the hell). She’s barely on the show long enough to say anything, and what seems to have started the drama is that she said –
(I have no clue what she actually said. Treat these quotes accordingly)
“I don’t like Tinsley.”
“Tinsley isn’t royalty.”
“She married a rich guy, and parlayed that into getting a lot of press.”
Now, it may have been put together in a way that wasn’t particularly nice, but it more or less translates into the same ideas. I suppose not what you want people to say about you, but not exactly slander, especially what with that whole truth defense.
The reaction, by Tinsley, her mother, and someone named Alex (who has the best “I’m crazy dramatic!” face on television), was somewhere in a realm that might be a conceivably legitimate reaction had Devorah said something like, “Tinsley has a baby-killing factory in her basement, and it’s powered by a machine that kicks puppies.”
So, I talked to Devorah.
Don’t take this long-winded explanation the wrong way though. The point is only that the entire arena is rather outside my normal area of interest. Besides, she said everyone on the show was crazy first, it isn’t my fault if I expect them to be crazy. (She didn’t even say, “everyone else is crazy.”)
As I mentioned, you don’t get a chance to hear Devorah say all that much on the show. This is in fact a key sell to my wanting to interview her actually, because I have heard everyone else on the show speak far too much to be able to construct a frame of mind that would make conversation possible.
I talked with Devorah for about an hour, and if you know me at all it should suffice to compose a fairly solid foundation of your opinion of her merely that I am willing to say that I talked with her for about an hour.
That sounds worse than I want it to, especially considering she might read this, but in my defense… she’s on the show. Certain presumptions follow.
As much as I hesitate to use the turn of phrase “down-to-Earth,” (because you’ll think I’m fibbing) I can’t seem to escape it. Standing out as perhaps the only conversation I’ve ever been able to call bizarre for its utter normalcy, Devorah came across as… well, likable enough to pull off sixty minutes of engaging conversation, and no thought better expresses my estimation of the young lady than my now staggering puzzlement at her involvement with this “train wreck.”
But, I gress.
As you might expect, I simply had to ask her about the quotes mentioned above, but it didn’t amount to much. She simply reiterated that the show was a train wreck and everyone was crazy, and I had to admit that I did not show up armed with a counterpoint. Given my impression that she did not speak as someone who seems interested in the show, I asked for her thoughts on being on the show generally. She gave me to understand that she didn’t really know what she was getting into. I take it the role was not described directly as, “that which Tinsley will focus hate toward.”
Though an “easy” sort of answer, you can probably see the possibility in it. If you’ve watched the show, you know that it has a bit of a different dynamic. Where The Hills (it’s the fairly similar I’ve got) might be “Lauren focused,” it is something of an ensemble play, with varying degrees of attention paid to everyone. Meanwhile, High Society is not called “Tinsley” only as a kind of gag. I don’t want to quote Devorah as saying that she was basically tricked into being on the show, more or less so that she could be setup for attack… because she didn’t say that. But, if you’d been listening in on the conversation, that might be the impression you’d take away.
Of course, on the minds of many who watch such shows, especially considering Jules Kirby’s recent “script” defense, is the extent to which the show is… well, scripted. On that subject, Devorah claims that while there is a lot of behind-the-scenes manipulation, it is really the work of the subjects themselves, not the producers. On the other hand, “scripted” in the sense of the handing out of lines is a different idea than the more general angle that perhaps events are concocted to some degree. People talk about the producers “creating” events, but don’t forget who gets billed as executive producer.
As an example, viewers may wonder, as I did, why Devorah would show up to talk with Tinsley’s mother, Dale Mercer. Given that Devorah clearly said, at best, unfriendly things about Tinsley, and the fact that we as viewers watched the “pitchforks and torches” reaction, how is the next thing that we’re watching a meeting between Devorah and Dale? Ruling out insanity, it’s a suspicious scene, and one that viewers can’t help but wonder about. Dale naturally starts laying into Devorah for whatever her atrocities might be, though we only get a dozen or so total words from an apparently stunned Devorah. When she tries to leave, Devorah is then followed, because Dale apparently isn’t done with her yet, and the next thing you know, we’re watching Devorah cry. Dale, by the way, described with great accuracy by Gawker as, “delightfully crazy.”
Even from the perspective of train wreck fans, there’s something odd about this scene. You’ve just insulted someone, to some degree or another, what could possess you to meet with their mother?
While Devorah wouldn’t go into exact detail about how that meeting came about, there are a few things that might shed a bit of light on the entire situation. First, she was right in the heart of a period of mourning, due to a very recent death in the family. As far as the crying goes, if I can pull together Devorah’s ideas and speak for her, the surprising thing was that there was any part of that scene without crying, not that by the end she was crying.
With regard to the question, “Why on Earth would you show up at all?” things are slightly tricky. The best I could get was that she was under the impression it was going to be a very different kind of chat they were having. Though the whole thing is about as crazy as could be, it does seem that Devorah’s single reaction throughout the meeting is that of complete surprise. Then again (I hear you thinking), she showed up for the show in the first place.
While Devorah might want me to go into more detail on the nonsensical claim that Dale and Tinsley are in some “club,” and that they are deluded to consider themselves as having some “status,” I’m not inclined to do so. As she said herself, the show tells its own tale pretty well in terms of who Dale and Tinsley are.
I’m more interested in the fact that she’s on the show at all, and crying again in the finale (previews would lead us to believe this is as the result of the curious zinger, “Devorah isn’t even your name,” the relevant context and import of which boggles the mind).
There is a very strange mix going on with Devorah, which you, like I, may have guessed all the way back at that strange quote. There is a “real,” and fairly charming person that I spoke with, who, as I said, manages to elicit no response so much as surprise that she’s on the show. There is some part of her, obvious from the quotes, clever enough not to be on the show, but apparently not a big enough part. She seems interested in showing that she’s the sanest person in this crowd, but is just shy of realizing that it’s a goal that is to have lost already, and that to look “good” on High Society is to still not look particularly good.
For all that, you may feel you don’t get a lot of “interview” here, but it was that sort of conversation. How long can you really talk about this show, and anything that happens on it? We talked “off off” the record for much of the time, and I’m not interested in even vaguely referencing the majority of our conversation, largely because I actually hope you don’t care.
Instead, perhaps I have given you some insight, perhaps I have simply rambled, but I can tell you that I doubt you will see Devorah play out as anything other than the vapid socialite (among vapid socialites, of course) she is meant to come across as. It is the nature of the beast. But, while I hope you see a lot more of Tinsley and crew (given that the show will apparently have another season – according to Perez at least), I rather hope there is enough of the Devorah I chatted with to just run.
It is a curious statement on our society that even those you find ways to hold out hope for are willing to be on such shows, and that even in the case of someone with the knowledge that whoever you are on such shows… they aren’t laughing with you.
Are You Screening?
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