Here's a show that promises to take 4 aspiring actresses stuck in the adult entertainment business and give them the chance to make it as a serious actress. And not just any actress, but performing Shakespeare on the London stage. Needless to say, male porn stars need not apply. Of course the actual show is hardly as noble as it sounds, but just the latest in a long line of reality TV talent shows mixed in with a dollop of Big Brother. It begins with the usual cringe-worthy and hilarious audition phase, then the contestants get on each others nerves while cooped up in the same apartment and it ends with a big finale and some hollow promises. The difference is that it's safe to say the women who take part in this are more accustomed to being taken advantage of than their counterparts on Popstars, Idols etc. Then it turned out that the all important and prestigious theater show was to be directed by Christopher Biggins. Now to most viewers in the States and main land Europe 'Biggins' (as the girls lovingly refer to him) may seem just a foppish English theater connoisseur, but everyone living in the British isles knows him better as a Pantomime Dame (a man dressed up in drag for children's shows performed over Christmas). He's also become rather a mainstay in other Reality TV dross such as 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here' and the likes. What are these poor girls getting themselves into?
At least compared to other shows of this nature, My Bare Lady moves along at a nice brisk pace. The entire audition process is done away with in the first half of the premiere episode. Of course for most viewers, this is the best part. You know the drill: the highlights are build up by the narrator well in advance before we get to see them and are then endlessly repeated (some of them over the course of the entire four part series). That same narrator keeps making thinly veiled references to the day jobs of those auditioning and claims that hundreds of actresses are being tested. In reality, only about 15 different women are shown, so the judges must not have had it that hard. It is clear from the start that some are being favored by the editor and surprise surprise, these are indeed the four that are chosen to travel to England and get a crash course in serious acting. They are: Kristen Price, Chanel St. James, Sasha Knox and Nautica Storm. As is often the case in these kind of shows, the contestants are chosen as much for their personalities as for their talent. Also, as we will be following these four women for three more weeks/episodes, the judges have to pick a group that will stir up some confrontations, or else it would be a pretty bland show. Luckily they found Sasha Knox, who could stir up pandemonium in any 'Big Brother' house out there. Of course, this being television, we must realize that the way Knox is portrayed here is only the way the editors want her to be seen. They constantly emphasize her negative points by cutting together snippets of her confessions in just the right way.
Let's face it, it would be a stretch for any unexperienced actor to get up and learn how to perform Shakespeare monologues in a mere three weeks. On top of that the girls are being manipulated and set up against each other at every turn. Biggins makes them compete for the part of Juliette (which was more or less promised to each of them during the auditions). This only empowers the rivalry between Sasha and Kristen. The latter comes across as thinking that everything will come her way just because she's the prettiest and most successful (she even leaves London for a weekend to do a show for the Playboy Channel). Meanwhile Chanel is having difficulty remembering her lines (the judges probably chose her with this in mind). Only Nautica doesn't get in any trouble, though she does express displeasure at having to play referee all the time. It isn't until halfway into the last episode that the girls finally learn which one will be playing Juliette. This seems a bit strange to me as it would give them even less time to learn their lines for the impending stage show. When the show finally comes, it turns out not to be a Shakespeare play, but bits and pieces collected under the title of, you guessed it, 'My Bare Lady'. I guess most of the audience there was tricked into thinking they would be seeing some very raunchy stuff on stage there, or else the theater wouldn't have been half as full. The girls manage to make the most of it, being as they are professionals, and provide as much (if not more) drama backstage as they do on. But after their last curtain call, it's back to the seedy part of Tinseltown for all for them (and back to wearing large dresses at X-mas for Biggins). Now if only the four of them would reunite in an adult feature with Victorian costumes and faux-Shakespearian lines. That would be a lark.
7 out of 10
PS. Haven't seen the second series, in which four more adult entertainers compete, this time to become business women. That seems like an even further stretch to me.
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