MOMMA'S BOYS. 10 tonight, Channel 10.
IF THE NBC promos are to be believed - and if we can't trust the Peacock, whom can we trust? - "Momma's Boys" is the most anticipated show of the year.
This just in: only 16 anticipating days until 2009.
So if you haven't actually been dreaming about a version of "The Bachelor" where there are three guys instead of just one, each with a mother who shows up to vet the Bridezilla wannabes, get cracking.
NBC, lately more despondent than usual, what with the trouble of having to entertain us for 22 hours a week, is cutting its workload next fall, when "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno takes over at 10 five days a week.
That leaves 17 hours to anticipate. Until then, we have "Momma's Boys."
For those who like their "reality" to come with a pedigree, "Boys" is produced by "American Idol's" Ryan Seacrest and Andrew Glassman, who used to be a reporter on WCAU (Channel 10) before he became one of the guys behind "Average Joe."
I once wrote that "Joe" was "far from the worst TV dating show" I'd seen, and I suppose I could say the same about "Momma's Boys," but only because I've seen a lot of dreck since then.
There's an element of meanness in all these shows, which tend to pack a couple of dozen young men or women into a generic-looking mansion and encourage them to compete - often at the top of their lungs - for an attractive member of the opposite sex.
"Momma's Boys," which houses 32 women in a Santa Barbara, Calif., home that might well sleep an army comfortably, improves on the ratio a bit by enlisting three single guys, even if one of the three, 21-year-old college student (and hockey player) Jojo Bojanowski, is barely old enough to drink, much less marry.
Some of the girls are nice, some of the girls are naughty and at least two (including one who seems pretty nice) have posed in Playboy or Penthouse.
One, who wears glasses so we know she's a geek despite being the most natural-looking blonde on the show, seems lost, scurrying around the big house like Cinderella, cleaning up after the evil (and messy) stepsisters.
She could be a ringer.
The meanness, or at the very least, rudeness, comes in the casting of Jojo's mother, Khalood Bojanowski, an Iraqi immigrant who goes by the name "Mrs. B" on the show.
Mrs. B., as she tells us in a video that's screened for the women on the show before they meet her, isn't interested in a black daughter-in-law. Or an Asian one. Or a Jewish one.
Though no sylph herself, she also has an objection to women whose posteriors exceed a certain Mrs. B-determined size.
Naturally, the women listening include representatives of all the groups Mrs. B wants her son to steer clear of, with the exception of the last, TV diversity not yet extending so far as to allow the out of shape to date.
And, not surprisingly, there's an immediate confrontation between Mrs. B and an intensive-care nurse who can do way better than Jojo, anyway.
I suppose it says something that "Momma's Boys" is actually confronting the issue.
It's not, however, saying much. Out here in the real world, where most people find love without resorting to casting directors, interracial relationships like the marriage that produced our next president seem to form with far less drama.
The Mrs. Bs of the world may not be happy about it, but it's not actually required that anyone give them a place on prime-time TV to say so. *
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