‘Miami Monkey,’ boobs in the sun
VH1 show will appeal to viewers who delight in squabbles
September 6, 2013
Reality shows set in workplaces often feature attractive young women who have recently been hired to work in subordinate positions. In these cases, it’s painfully obvious that the women’s real function is to provide eye candy for viewers.
VH1’s new reality show “Miami Monkey” at least has a reality-based excuse for its newly hired hotties: They’re meant to attract customers to the newly opened bar in which the show is set.
Nonetheless, everything else they do or say seems to have been designed to provoke the tedious catfights that are the hallmark of almost all reality shows featuring groups of women. The ostensible star, a made-for-reality-TV New Yorker named Big Ang, whose outsize personality, lips and chest should set “Miami Monkey” apart, is kept mostly in the background. Only viewers who are starving for more screaming and finger pointing are likely to find this show entertaining.
In the premiere episode, airing this Sunday, Sept. 8, at 10 p.m., Big Ang, a featured player on VH1’s “Mob Wives” and the star of the channel’s “Big Ang,” relocates from Staten Island to Miami’s South Beach in order to open a branch of her bar, the Drunken Monkey. In one of those arrangements that happen only on reality TV, Ang’s daughter Raquel will commute down on weekends to serve as manager.
Ang and Raquel are also bringing down a group of young female friends and relations to work in various posts at the bar. Ang’s local hires are the handsome Nate, whose duties at the bar remain vague, and Morgan and Cristina, two striking model types who Ang thinks will draw customers.
Ryan, a friend of Raquel’s who will work as the head bartender, doesn’t appreciate the possible competition from Morgan. She questions Morgan’s qualifications and warns her that she’ll be responsible for any shortfall in the till.
“This blond tomboy keeps interrogating me like she’s in the FBI,” Morgan tells the camera. “This isn’t Staten Island; this is South Bitch, ho.”
The New Yorkers get a reason to be hostile when Morgan and Cristina are late for work on the bar’s opening day. Ang and Raquel send the others to hand out free-shot coupons on the beach.
Gabby, who is the girlfriend of Ang’s son A.J., with whom she shares a bedroom in Ang’s house, balks at wearing the suggested outfit: a bikini with a monkey logo on one of the cups. Raquel asks her, “What did you get your boobs done for if you don’t want to show them?”
When Morgan and Cristina finally show up, Ryan lays into them, and Raquel sends them out on Ocean Drive to promote the opening. Taking Gabby along with them, they instead stop for an al fresco lunch at what seems to be a tranny bar.
Roxanne, a friend of Raquel’s who is the Miami Monkey’s weekday manager, tracks them down and yells some more. Morgan says she doesn’t mind because she thinks she is winning Gabby over to her side.
Whether any of this conflict occurred naturally is a question that few viewers seem to care about, if one judges by the popularity of all the reality shows on basic cable that feature even less plausibly motivated battles between screaming women.
Ang, whose imposing physical presence and husky baritone would make her a perfect combatant, stays above the fray. She calmly explains to Morgan and Cristina that they need to listen to the managers.
Ang and Raquel do a little shtick about how Raquel is the responsible one, but it fizzles out uneventfully.
Though the Miami girls are eye-catching and the Staten Island girls are often comically crude, they’re not enough to make the show stand out.
An episode-ending montage with scenes from upcoming shows is full of more conflict, including a possible love triangle between Ryan, Nate and Morgan. In other words, the producers aren’t monkeying around with the usual reality formulas.
Reality TV can sometimes start to feel like a fast-food chain, with the only variation being location. As long as viewers keep settling for the same old same old, they’re going to keep getting it.
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