After the jump, my brief column about the sometimes appalling new reality show, which premieres tonight. ...
From Sunday's Beacon Journal:
"Momma's Boys," a new reality series on NBC, knows that its basic idea is not all that new. So it opts for a combustible mix of participants, then throws a match on the mix.
Like "Meet My Folks" and "Parental Choice," "Momma's Boys" brings the parents into the dating action. The mothers of the show's three bachelors mingle with the 32 women vying for their sons' affections, and offer their thoughts about the women their sons are considering. The show premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, then moves to Mondays (9-11 p.m. on Dec. 22, then 10-11 p.m. from Dec. 29 through Jan. 19).
The contending women cover a wide range, from accomplished professionals to models, including Erica Ellyson, the Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2008. There's at least one single mom, and women both older and younger than the three bachelors (all in their early to mid-20s); the women are also diverse ethnically.
It's on this last point that the show especially tries to stir things up, with the first hour of the series premiere leading up to a confrontation with momma Khalood Bojanowski (photo above) In a video made before the competition, Iraq-born Bojanowski made clear that she did not want her son involved with an African-American, an Asian-American or a Jewish woman -- or anyone from a divorced family.
Just in case she proved to be too polite for dramatic purposes when she met the women, "Momma's Boys" showed the video of Bojanowski's remarks to all of them, virtually making sure there would be some kind of conflict down the road. (The show also presented videos of the other two mothers and sons to the women, though nothing inflammatory was said in those.)
And that conflict appears to take two forms. One woman of color, Misty Alli of Youngstown, vows to pursue Bojanowski's son JoJo, if only to aggravate his mother. Others decide to be more directly confrontational. Though not very effective dramatically. It's mostly yelling.
Far more effective as television is an elimination ceremony in which one woman makes a startling, tearful decision. (For viewing purposes, NBC sent out the first hour of the series, a selected later scene and a portion of an elimination ceremony.) While I didn't find the scene entirely spontaneous, it was definitely watchable.
Not that I will make that claim for the show as a whole. But reality competitions are rarely effective from the first episode, since it takes time to introduce characters and establish relationships. Some of the women on "Momma's Boys" get no significant screen time, especially with so much footage devoted to teasers for mother Bojanowski's arrival.