Of course I’m just MAD about Ashley Parker Angel, aren’t you? Or is it Ashley Angel Parker? Maybe Angel Ashley Parker Angel? Whatever. You know, the super-blonde prettyboy from O-town with his own reality show, There & Back, on MTV. You’ve watched it. Don’t deny it. You got sucked in during a Sunday marathon, and now you’re addicted to it. Admit it. It’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. Those bangs! I love him. In fact, I think I feel a gush coming on. You don’t mind, do you? I find that sometimes just talking about him makes the day a little brighter.
Now, for those of you living under a rock or named Terry Shiavo, the show chronicles the ups and downs of Ashley’s post-famous life, after O-town has broken up, as he tries for a comeback and struggles to support his evil, pregnant girlfriend. It’s absolutely hypnotic. You can’t take your eyes off him. He’s gotten much prettier since his O-town days. There’s a new-found fragility and a shy, angelic quality that wasn’t there before. Then there are THOSE KILLER BANGS, of course, all floppy and just hanging down over those puppydog eyes. OH! OH! And that wistful, please-love-me smile. SQUEEEAL!
He wasn’t even that cute before. Clearly, humility has made him hotter. And there is no shortage of that here. This show is built on humiliation. HIS humiliation. His complete and utter emasculation, in fact.
He’s got this pregnant girlfriend, you see. And her pregnancy is making her CRAZY. Nasty-nutty-hissy-huffy, psycho-batshit, turn-on-a-dime, contents-under-pressure, resentment-oozing, bile-spewing, rampaging hormone-monster kind of crazy. And that’s no hyperbole, kid. I’m serious, she was a toxic bitch to begin with, and now, she’s just an absolute GORGON. Easily the nastiest villain EVER to grace a reality show. BOOOOOOO! HISSSSS!
She’s relentless in her attacks on our boy Ashley’s manhood. (Poor little thing.) Well, it’s an easy target. He’s girly and manorexic and cries at the drop of a hat. Then there’s THAT HAIR. But the focus of her fury is his inability to support them now that he’s no longer famous. Things have gotten so bad, in fact, they’ve had to move in with HER MOTHER. And OH! That doesn’t please her. AT ALL. She resents being pregnant, and hates that she’s chained forever to this useless, annoying, irresponsible LOSER who can’t even support his own family! And she absolutely hates taking handouts from her mother! So as long as they are living there, by God, both she and her mother aren’t going to let him forget what a failure he is.
And here’s the thing: He loves it, LOVES IT. Luxuriates in it. Revels in her contempt. Wallows in her bottomless rage. He’s submissive in a way that only a boy with a little weiner can be. OH TOTALLY. YOU CAN TELL THESE THINGS. See, he knows he can never fully satisfy her, therefore he deserves to be treated with contempt. OF COURSE. So, when he disappoints her, which is ALWAYS, whenever HE BREATHES, he just hangs his head and takes her abuse. Then, when she’s done, he curls up to her, spoons and coos and tells her he knows, he’s sorry, he’ll try to change. IT”S SO SICK.
And of course, he IS irresponsible and lazy and a loser and a total mess. But that’s what makes him so charming. That’s why we love him. She seems to be the only one ON THE PLANET who doesn’t get his appeal. He was once a minor teen heart-throb from a third-rate boy band, for Christ’s sake! And he’s a BLONDE! Of course he’s an idiot! Of course, he’s going to be shallow! You know it and I know it. It’s a shame she can’t see the humor in it all. It’s a shame she’s so grim and growlly all the time. But that’s what makes perfect television, of course.
The defining moment of the show came a couple weeks ago, when she was finally giving birth, huffing and puffing and screaming like a banshee, and he was in the hospital room mirror CUTTING HIS BANGS! Yes! Because he thought they looked a bit “shelfy”! HA! SHELFY! His words! And of course, he didn’t want his new son to see him for the first time with less-than-magnificent hair! Well, you can understand that.
Another defining moment happened last week, when Ashley was taking a poo – I KNOW! – MTV!!! And he ran out of toilet paper, so he scurried to the kitchen, as you do, where he was CAUGHT WIPING HIS BUTT with a paper towel by his girlfriend’s mother!!! OMG! It was SO MORTIFYING! Truly, the stuff of therapy! And, as you watched through your fingers, and cringed and squirmed, and maybe even threw up a little, you reeled at how far this show is willing to go to humiliate Ashley, how little everyone around him must think of him, how casually castrating the mother and daughter are, and how much delight he takes in all of it. Everyone, it seems, is equally complicit in the complete and utter debasement of Ashley Parker Angel. Or is it Ashley Angel Parker? Whatever. The whole series is a cry for help from a very damaged little boy. I MEAN, REALLY: Acting out poo shame is so textbook! Poor dear! Well, I just want to hug the pain away!
Later, in the same episode, Ashley goes to a temp agency, and after explaining that the reason he hasn’t any work experience on his resume is because he was a teen heartthrob in a famous boy band, touring the globe and making records these last couple of years, instead of working at McDonalds. They are not even slightly impressed. They look him over, think real hard, and finally tell him the only job he is possibly qualified for is “human directional advertising” – or standing outside a business holding a sign. Well, even Ashley has his limits! YOU GO, GIRL! And he huffs out.
But the Gorgon needs money. So a friend gets him a job on a construction site, building a house. Oh good! Just what every former boy-bander yearns to do! Work with tools! With real men! And of course, comedy ensues when he cements the things that should be nailed, saws his tools in half, and drills at the dirt, you know, all helpless and faggy-like. But the money shot comes when the future owners come to view the site, and the look of pity and disgust on the teenage girl’s face when she realizes that the guy from her O-Town poster is pouring the cement for her living room is just priceless. AND OF COURSE HE JUST SMILES AND SIGNS HIS AUTOGRAPH! He loves it! Lives for it! Then to cap off this episode of ritual bloodletting, Ashley goes to a nightclub, where he is promptly punched by a guy who just didn’t like his face. That’s it. Didn’t even know who he was. “Hey, Cupcake!” he yelled, and POW! Of course, things like this happen to Ashley all the time. And, of course, HE’S thrown out of the club. A classic end to a classic episode.
WHEW! See! I DO feel better now. We should ALL talk about Ashley more often! Now, what do YOU think of him?
– James St. James