Eric & Jessie Game On: Balls in a jar?
Last week, our post previewing Eric & Jessie: Game On, the new E Network reality series featuring Broncos receiver Eric Decker and singer Jessie James was subtitled "Don't hate them because they're beautiful." But that may be tough for some of those who caught last night's debut. The show was more or less devoted to admiring the couple's gorgeousness, sans anything resembling dramatic tension. Moreover, James seems much more into the proceedings than does Decker, thereby turning an anecdote about keeping his snipped golden retriever's testicles into a telling metaphor.
E certainly has a track record of turning faux-docs about privileged narcissists into popular television, as the various programs featuring the Kardashians ably demonstrate. But at least those offerings, as well as the mega-hit Duck Dynasty, feature a multiplicity of quirky characters that interact with each other in occasionally entertaining ways.
One plot line in the debut episode involves the challenges of moving into an enormous mansion. Really.
That's not the case so far with Eric & Jessie, which seldom breaks its focus from the titular twosome -- and the others who occasionally drift into the frame are singularly uninteresting.
There's Sydney, Jessie's beloved sister, a 22-year-old self-described virgin made mildly uncomfortable by matchmaking efforts and willing to wait for a guy who's interested in something other than "vagina." There's Jessie's mom, Karen, whose meanest (read: not mean in the slightest) moments involve her telling her daughter she needs to focus on wedding plans instead of just having fun and suggesting that she may need to alter her wedding dress because her weight has been known to fluctuate. There's a series of interchangeable friends/bridesmaids/hotties required mainly to look at Jessie with adoration. And there's Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard (referred to as "Wes," presumably to make him more approachable), seen running through a couple of phony drills with Eric to establish the idea that he's a gridiron pro and not a male model.
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None of these characters would make the cut on a grade-C sitcom -- and make no mistake, that's what reality series like this one aspire to be. Moreover, the closest thing to a gag involves Jessie pretending to drink glass cleaner that turns out to be blue Gatorade, a bit that becomes even less hilarious than it would be otherwise thanks to her obsessively self-involved, ain't-I-a-stinker certainty that she's the funniest, most charming person to ever draw breath.
James makes it clear she's devoted to Decker, tearing up during the de rigueur trying-on-the-dress sequence. Yet she also takes delight in working blue (or at least powder blue), commenting on the size of his package -- bet his buddies in the locker room will give him a ration of shit for that -- and rhapsodizing about his hairy butt crack.
Eric and Jessie with her sister, Sydney.
This last information comes complete with a comment about Decker offering to defoliate if she'd like, which pretty much describes the power relationship depicted during Game On. She clearly loves/needs every moment on camera, while he seems to be going along in good-natured fashion -- not terribly invested in the proceedings but happy to take part if it makes Jessie happy.
The reality-show corollary, especially for local sports fans, is La La's Full Court Wedding, a 2010 VH1 series about the nuptials of basketball star Carmelo Anthony and video hostess La La Vasquez -- obviously the driving force behind the show, and someone else who never met a mirror she didn't love.
Full Court Wedding was a jumbo flop in part because Melo seemed to be taking part and hitting his marks for La La's benefit, not because he gave a single damn about the program. And while Decker seems somewhat more engaged, the imbalance of interest is similar. When he talks about how he keeps his golden-retriever puppy's balls in a jar, one can't help but wonder if they're on a shelf alongside his.
Look below to see a couple of snippets from Game On, as well as additional promo clips.
More from our Television & Film archive: "Carmelo Anthony is La La Vazquez's bitch on reality show: She shoulda been Nuggets GM?"