Famous in 12 is the latest in “social media experiments,” this time seeing if Harvey Levin can transform the Artiaga family into the next Kardashian brood nobody asked for.
Famous in 12, Tuesdays at 9pm on the CW.
Harvey Levin (TMZ, The People’s Court) believes he is the Henry Higgins of fame and wants to see if he can, in twelve weeks or less, turn a no-name family (the Artiagas) into the next Kardashians. There’s the “momager”1 Annie, the step-dad DJ Mike, and the three daughters: Jameelah, 22, the model; Maariyah, 23, the dancer; and Taliah, 27, the singer.2 The show is more-or-less in real time—each episode recaps the previous week—and is a “social media experiment” because that’s the law now. Social media commentary, or lack thereof, over the next 12 weeks will determine whether or not any of the participants has achieved the Levin standard of fame.
I think this is technically a spinoff of Harvey Levin’s TMZ show, as many of the segments are punctuated by the bullpen meetings with the website’s staff. Also, the CW knows vapid reality (come back soon America’s Next Top Model).
Who is Famous in 12 For?
If the CW didn’t pick this up, it would fit perfectly on the E! network. The show is basically Who Wants to Be America’s Next Big Brother Kardashian?
I am not part of the audience for this show—I don’t care about keeping up with any of the Kardashians and I’m not even ironically interested in what Paris Hilton is up to these days. However, in the intro to the first episode Harvey Levin explains his thesis on fame, particularly how the concept and acquisition of the commodity has changed drastically since 2004. I find this fascinating, as this could be interpreted as a summer lecture course on American popular culture. In his initial meeting with the Artiaga family, Levin explains raw talent won’t get you very far and that if you aren’t working, you need to be “scheming.” I think that may be some reality TV cookery, but he does emphasize the need for a plan, which I buy.
What Doesn’t Work
The fundamental concept of the show makes me so sad. All three daughters position themselves as sexual objects in their intro packages, which, gross. This continues to be reinforced throughout the first episode, particularly an encounter with Ray J. I don’t care if the encounter was staged or not—this reeked of After School Special.
The staginess of the show made each segment read like a prompt from an intro to improv class:
- “Bikini Babes Celebrity Bake Sale”
- Soulja Boy’s +1 at the Clizzub
- Crash a Red Carpet Event
- Fashion Photographer Delivers Harsh Truths
Granted, Levin needs something for these people to do so he can offer critique at the end of the episode, but it makes the concept of “fame” seem like Pokémon. Jameelah especially was focused on getting selfies with famous people, thinking that acquiring lots of photos will make her famous. I guess that works for the guy in the Elmo costume in Times Square?
If the goal is to become a socialite (read: famous for being famous), it’s important to note that Kim, Paris, and Zsa Zsa at least did something to become a known entity. If the show is going to be 12 weeks of stupid pranks and fish out of water screeching “wanna take a selfie with me?” it will not work. While I am very interested to hear what Harvey Levin has to say on the subject of fame, I’m not interested in sitting through the filler to get there.