ABC’s cruel summer for reality shows (with tepid attractions “The One,” “Master of Champions” and “How to Get the Guy”) continues with this older version of MTV’s “The Real World” that promises to “escape the soaring city temperatures for a different kind of heat.” Cloned by “The Real World’s” engineers, think of this as “The Rental World: Fire Island,” with 11 chiseled New York singles occupying a weekend beach house. Will there be hot-tubbing, crushes and an exotic dancer, albeit one identified on screen as a “waitress” in the premiere? Put it this way: Is Ryan Seacrest lucky?
This not-even-generation-next knockoff is adorned with all the requisite trappings, providing a veritable festival of pained if utterly vacant reaction shots. It is also, by virtue of being wholly derivative, unlikely to do much to galvanize its intended audience unless things become very tawdry very fast. (Some snippets of sex video from the show already found their way onto a TV fan site, and Fire Island dwellers have helpfully grumbled to the New York Times about their displeasure over being tarred with the reality-TV brush.)
The housemates’ age range is 22 to 28, the dress is bikini casual, and there’s a lovely pair of identical twins who must end up in a hot tub with somebody sooner or later — preferably together if they want to break new ground, tube-wise.
At the show’s heart are those crazy kids Lauren and Zack, an on-again, off-again couple whose equilibrium is quickly thrown off when she begins flirting with KJ, who has also caught the eye of Mary. Zack seems to be in denial about the Lauren relationship, whose rules are at best fuzzy. Meanwhile, Mary develops an instant antipathy toward “Wall Street lawyer” and resident egomaniac Usman, who can’t stop reminding everyone how gorgeous he is.
Frankly, even after viewing the first episode it was difficult to distinguish most of the characters from each other, and that isn’t even counting the twins. On the plus side, the promo for week two promises that “two sexy new housemates change everything,” and one of them has just posed for Playboy. Par-tee!
ABC made plenty of noise and expressed considerable irritation not so long ago regarding Fox’s habit of copying competing concepts, among them “Supernanny,” “Wife Swap” and NBC’s “The Contender.” Yet this summer, anyway, the Alphabet network has engaged in its own version of me-too development, to little consequence.
Perhaps that explains why “One Ocean View,” despite its ritzy environs, looks an awful lot like tract housing.