As has become unmistakably clear to even the most casual VH1 viewers, the channel has phased out 99 percent of its purely music-related programming (music videos are now given the coveted Mondays at 3 a.m. time slot) and chosen to focus its energies on all-out celebrity worship.
To this end, VH1 has created a host of “celebreality” shows, including “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Surreal Life” and my personal favorite, “Hogan Knows Best.” These shows take familiar reality TV concepts and use pseudo-celebrities as participants.
“Hogan” follows Hulk (or Terry, as he prefers to be called outside the wrestling ring) as he interacts with his teenage children, son Nick and daughter Brooke, and his trophy wife of 22 years, Linda. Much like MTV's much-famed (and may I say much-overrated) “The Osbournes,” “Hogan”'s producers understand that the best strategy for creating captivating television with a washed-up celebrity is to make sure everything runs through said celebrity.
Whether the episode involves Brooke's faux music career or Nick's relationship with his new girlfriend, you can be sure Hulk is getting most of the screen time. In “Brooke's Big Break,” for example, Hulk carefully supervises everything his daughter does, from her eating habits to her song lyrics to what she wears to the Grammys. The perpetual focus on the true celeb is clearly warranted in the case of “Hogan Knows Best” because, unlike “The Osbournes,” Hulk's family is composed of thoroughly uninteresting nitwits.
With the attention necessarily placed on Hulk, it's a good thing that the former Mr. Nanny enjoys hogging the spotlight. In “Nick's Girlfriend,” Hogan explains, “It's alright for Nick to be hanging out with girls every once in a while, but he needs to make sure his father is his top priority.” Come on Hulkster; any father of a 14-year-old would be lucky to crack the top five on his son's priority list--no matter how many steel-cage matches he's endured.
The show's highpoints come when Hulk's overbearing and often clueless parenting style runs head-on with today's modern, sex-obsessed society. When Hulk witnesses Brooke being hit on at the gym by an especially slimy porn star, a palpable shiver runs down his spine as he exclaims, “This is a nightmare! Don't tell your mother about this.” As far as his daughter's music career is concerned, it would seem Hogan's more traditional feelings about nudity and sexuality will undoubtedly hinder Brooke's ability to compete with the “my pants barely cover my vagina”-style pop stars of today.
As guilty a pleasure as “Hogan” is (and believe me, I feel more vindicated watching the new season of “Laguna Beach” than a single episode of “HKB”), I'm forced to admit that the show is highly engrossing. Hulk's endless supply of wrestling-related analogies, such as “This is better than body-slamming Andre the Giant,” are whimsically charming, even if they reek of artificiality. Finally, Hulk's painfully out-of-touch persona is entertaining enough to compensate for the otherwise boring Hogan clan. If you're looking for a lighthearted laugh, check out “Hogan Knows Best.” As with all of VH1's original shows, it's on a zillion times a day.