Achieving an impressive two-fer even by reality TV standards, VH1’s latest bid for attention manages to be bizarre and creepy, with supermodel Jerry Hall sifting through 12 “boys” to find a “kept” man, who, in exchange for his company, will receive a six-figure “allowance.” Seldom has whoring for ratings seemed quite so brazen, though to be fair, there’s precious little reality surrounding this project. “Kept” joins “Strip Search” — that’s right, a male stripper contest — as part of a Sunday lineup that should principally appeal to John Waters aficionados.
The dozen lads, mid-20s to early 30s, are shipped to London to audition for the late-40s Hall and her “jet-setting” friends. These male concubines immediately demonstrate their commitment to the easy life by wading across the ice-cold Thames. “If they swim across that cesspool, I know they’re willing to do anything I ask of them,” Hall cheerily muses.
If Hall isn’t reading off cue cards, then she’s not very good at playing herself, since there’s seldom a moment where her actions can be taken seriously. The same doesn’t quite apply to the contestants, who awkwardly dive into these shenanigans with unscripted elimination-game gusto, though perhaps more pathetically than most.
Needless to say, age gap is part of the cheesy thrill, a sort-of “Pimp My Aging Model” that enables an older woman to have her pick of young male suitors. Still, it’s hard to imagine women finding much to savor in this fantasy, which, with its loving attention to the half-dressed male form, has its best chance of a cult following among gay men.
Hall simply tries too hard to act the diva in the customary mix of movie cliches, which plays like a mish-mash of “The Graduate,” “Sunset Blvd.” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” As with “Chasing Farrah” and any number of other concepts that exploit celebrity participants, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her, unless Hall was truly naive about the current realities of reality.
“Kept” surely qualifies as a peculiar artifact within the celeb-reality genre, but it’s not quite strange enough to command a repeat viewing.
By the way, Jerry, despite what those young blokes adoringly tell you, under these terms a normal guy would balk if the offer was all of Donald Trump’s money, much less an allowance.