T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode One

26 Jan

[Our ongoing Swanky coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here.  And now we know that Vinny keeps his shirt on in the pool]

808s & Heartbreak

Comparing a show about ex-lovers to a breakup album seems pretty obvious, but if the shoe fits, we’re going to wear it.  Kanye’s 2008 album, “808s & Heartbreak” was an emotional and personal piece of work.  The skeletons from his recent breakup are strewn all over minimalist productions and haunted vocals, with the occasional burst of bravado breaking forth in a particular verse or beat.  The album was uneven, but it was a deeply felt, unique, and quality work from a visionary artist that helped to usher in a new style of hip-hop [hey, Drake] and pointed towards the great things to come.  The messy pieces of lovesickness in “808s” laid the way for the passionate expansiveness of “A Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” much like the uneven parts of Battle of the Exes’ first episode point towards greater things.

TJ Lavin’s line in this episode – “You like money more than you hate each other” – sounds like it could have come straight from Kanye’s discarded lyrics pile.  Episode One had many of the ‘twisted love gone bad’ themes expressed in “808s”.  There was the weird, darkly sexual union with Abe and Cara Maria, who now both look like they work the “Pirates of the Carribean” ride on breaks between seasons.  There was the angry, don’t-fucking-touch-me attitude with Jasmine and Tyrie; any kind of non-violent ending for these two would be a borderline miracle.  The infatuation with porn stars shines bright with Dustin and Dunbar, the latter of which, incidentally, looked to be the second coming of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man while walking that honey plank.  And then there was the ‘I tend to sleep with the closest person in my vicinity, and you’ve happened to be that person at several times, so I guess let’s just bone some more’ union of Wes and Mandi.  Most of these people have probably lived out a few Kanye verses in their lives, and Battle of the Exes is all the better for it.

Episode One definitely had its slow points, and mostly laid the foundation for many of the storylines that should lead to emotional and physical  fireworks in the “Dark Twisted Fantasy” portion of this season.  The producers seemed to put the most emphasis on the Diem-CT relationship, indicating that could be headed for a sorely-needed CT meltdown in the near future.  Meanwhile, Wes’ aggressive strategy nearly got the best of him this year, but he was gifted a final showdown with quite possibly the least-appealing pair in Challenge history, Red-face and What’shername, and thankfully sent them home to irrelevance.

The muted, catchy, uncomfortable, and promising sounds of “808s” hang over Episode One, and while better things are on the horizon, it was still worth the time.

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3 Responses to “T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode One”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode Three « Dan Swanky's - February 9, 2012

    […] coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here.  For the episodes: One, […]

  2. T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episode Four « Dan Swanky's - February 17, 2012

    […] coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here.  For the episodes: One, Two, […]

  3. T.J. Lavin’s Masterpiece Theatre: Episodes Five/Six « Dan Swanky's - March 2, 2012

    […] [Our ongoing Swanky coverage of The Challenge: Battle of the Exes.  For an introduction, go here.  For the episodes: One, Two, Three, Four] […]

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