Even fans of so-called reality TV should have trouble swallowing “The Princes of Malibu,” in which wealthy music producer David Foster and his ne’er-do-well stepsons concoct a heavily staged companion to “The Simple Life’s” heavily staged brand of comedy/reality. Best enjoyed with the sound down, Foster fumes over his unemployed twentysomething houseguests sponging off him, except that they’re credited as the program’s co-creators, so they have actually parlayed their licentiousness into a job that invalidates the premise. Confused yet? Changing the channel should make the headache go away.
Foster’s wife, Linda Thompson, had the kids with former hubby Bruce Jenner, and they’re dreamy-looking in a “The OC” kind of way. Just wait, though, for the madcap mixups that ensue when David and Linda cut short a trip to Hawaii and find that scamps Brandon and Brody have thrown a massive party in the backyard, complete with half-naked girls packed into the Jacuzzi!
Is anyone supposed to even momentarily believe that all of this isn’t a setup — in the same way that David cancels the kids’ credit cards while they’re in the middle of dinner at Nobu? Ultimately, the whole exercise plays like an episode of HBO’s “Entourage” with hammy parental supervision, and probably a better script.
Why the Grammy-winning producer would lend himself to such inanity is anybody’s guess, but let’s assume he’s simply being a good sport. Either that, or he really was tired of footing the bill for the B&B boys, wanted them off his 22-acre compound and decided to play along, willing to be caricatured as the impotent stepdad blinded by his ultra-permissive wife’s flaxen locks.
As for Brandon, Brody and their ever-present friend Spencer (who comes across as a half-baked surfer dude but receives exec producer credit), they do a pretty fair impersonation of Eddie Haskell when they attempt to fast-talk their way out of these manipulated dust-ups. For the most part, though, the series’ commercial prospects would benefit immeasurably if they kept their shirts off and mouths closed.
Perhaps I’ve hit the wall when it comes to completely suspending disbelief on behalf of such utter nonsense, but contorting the “reality-comedy” format into such a pretzel-like shape begs the question: Why not try making a sitcom in the first place? It might not be easier, but at least it would be less dishonest. Until then, there’s not much to do but wait for “The Princes” to float off with the tides.