Desperate for something to watch over lunch, I decided to check out the pilot of a VH1 sketch show called Stevie TV… and by the time the closing credits rolled along I was totally hooked! In fact I ended up watching another two episodes later in the evening, to sate/stoke my new addiction. Apparently the first season (of eight eps) ended last Sunday, and now I’m kicking myself for taking so long to catch on. I had actually read quite a positive review of the pilot when it first aired, but decided not to bother watching it on the grounds that a lot of the sketches were parodies of “reality” shows I’d never seen… but even these skits work pretty well in isolation as absurd character pieces. I mean, when a tween beauty pageant loser starts dousing the trophy table in petrol and threatening to “make it all on fire!”, it’s funny regardless of the specific real life inspiration behind the gag.
The star of the show is Stevie Ryan, a versatile comedienne who rose to prominence via her own self-penned YouTube videos… and while her style of comedy may not be to everyone’s tastes, I think there’s a good balance here between the shouty, bug-eyed craziness and the well-crafted, sharply targeted jokes. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ryan is also a very beautiful and remarkably lithe young woman… attributes which serve her very well when she’s mocking equally attractive, but utterly vacuous reality “stars” who feel compelled to show their boobs and dance around whenever a random man happens to chant their name aloud. Going back to the whole “What’s wrong with being sexy?” debate, Ryan is happy to look as ugly or crazy as a sketch demands her to (or even dress as a dude), but she also has the admirable ability to play up her own sex appeal, while still bringing the laughs. I’m thinking particularly of a skit where she lampoons the hoary old TV/Movie cliché of trying to sell a blatantly attractive actress as an asexual “dork”, simply by making her wear glasses and having the other characters comment on how unattractive she is. Watching a less talented actress or model writhe and strut her way through a New Girl-esque sitcom as a dorked-out “Megan Fox” could have just been cheap titillation, but somehow Ryan’s performance, coupled with the blandly derisive reactions of her co-stars, made me laugh out loud every time “Megan” went into soft-core, slo-mo mode.
Her musical numbers are damned catchy too… I’m even thinking of using “Let’s make a sexy mistake!” as my default chat-up line from now on. As a fan of slightly scary Latinas, I also enjoyed her performance as “Little Loca”, an original character featured prominently in the YouTube videos that made Ryan’s name, back in the day (according to this interview from the Queens Courier site that summarises her rise to fame).
Although the supporting cast seems to change from week to week (also a plus, considering how many sketch shows these days try to coast along by rehashing the same catchphrases and characters in every episode), I was struck by two ridiculously cute regulars: Dana Delorenzo, who’s also the lead singer in an Amy Winehouse tribute band called House of Winehouse… and Rosa Salazar, who previously appeared as a ghosty nursing student named ‘Maria’ in American Horror Story. Coolness!
Oh, and one of the show’s regular writers and supporting players is Hanna LoPatin, who co-created The Jersey Shoresical. Sadly Karen DiConcetto wasn’t asked to reprise her role as “Snooki” here though… boo!