Friday, April 24, 2009

Are Joan and Melissa Rivers the Next “Grey Gardens”?

While watching the recent embarrassing season of “The Apprentice,” it struck me that the bond between Joan and Melissa Rivers is very similar to that of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, who are once again popular because of the recent wave of television and theatrical productions surrounding the famous “Grey Gardens” story. For those of you who don’t know, The Beales were a mother and a daughter who lived in squalor for many years in their slowly decaying house in the Hamptons. The decline of the house and property has forever come to symbolize the physical and mental decline of the Beales themselves, whose combative relationship was perhaps the only thing that helped them survive the tough and uncleanly conditions. They also happen to be relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which is how they became notoriously famous in the first place.

At any rate, watching Joan and Melissa Rivers walk and talk on screen is like witnessing two animatronic wax figures moving about in real life. Their lack of facial expressions is only part of the strange plastic mass that makes up their reconstructed heads. To me, they look more like puppets than people…two marionettes fully capable of some sort of movement, but without the ability to do much with their faces, except open and shut their eyes and mouths. And even then, it doesn’t look quite natural.

In her heyday, Joan Rivers was one of the funniest women alive. I remember growing up thinking she was bitchy and catty, but in a fun way. Then came the red carpet years, which to me were embarrassing and painful. She wasn’t good at interviewing people, she didn’t know who most of the celebrities were, and she could be downright nasty…which is not the same thing as being funny. And with sidecar Melissa attached to her like some kind of unwelcome barnacle, Joan spit her way through years of boring and uninspired red carpet routines, and probably just as many plastic surgeries.

On this season of “The Apprentice,” she is both funny and sad. Sometimes her self-righteous attitude and over-protective motherly instinct drain a lot of the energy out of the mostly apathetic cast, but it is her relationship with her daughter that is most disturbing. They seem to balance each other’s neurosis with the kind of chemistry you mostly find in Petrie dishes. And though Melissa will tell you at any opportunity that she is more than just her mother’s shadow; she also has umpteen years experience as a major producer of quality television (Though she neglects to mention that most--if not all--of those shows featured her mother as the lead. Methinks she doth protest too much, no?)

And so, like Big Edie and Little Edie, the Rivers women will scratch and claw their way through delusional lives while the rest of watch as if we are witnessing a car accident that never ends.

But that’s just me. What’s your opinion of Joan and Melissa Rivers?

14 comments:

Don said...

I agree. They are two of the most jealous people I've ever had the nauseating pleasure of seeing in action. Seems like every time one of the other celebs racks up a few kudos from Trump that one or both of the twin Rivers is rolling their eyes and slamming that person for some perceived faulty character trait.

Grace said...

Haven't got their act in years - back back when I did, I always thought Melissa was the grown-up

Judy said...

Omigosh...you are SO right! I never did like Joan...she reminded me of a female Hennie Youngman. The duo is double trouble. There's something really strange going on there and I can't quite wrap my mind around it. Pathetic is the only word that comes to mind right now!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Very interesting Henson...I would not have thought of that comparison, but I think that the story of the Beale gals is quite fascinating...the Rivers gals, not so much...

Henson Ray said...

Don--There is definitely a lot of anger in those two women. I know they are survivors...but at what cost?

Grace--You're probably right. But it's a position she was most likely forced into, rather than one she chose.

Judy--Hmmm...pathetic is a good word.

Amy--True...the Beales are oddly fascinating...I've watched both the documentaries and it's really a heartbreaking story. And even though the mother is often portrayed as the "villain" of the story, you actually feel sorry for both of them.

Daisy said...

I am so irritated with Joan and Melissa that I can hardly stand to watch that show! And they really do have nearly identical wax-like faces.

I'm rooting for Jesse James. He's cool!

MamaFlo said...

I don't watch the Apprentice as I detest Donald Trump.
I've seen Joan and Melissa on commercials though and I think they're behavior is just plain pathetic.

Acadia said...

Melissa Rivers is one of the nicest, most wonderfullest, beautifullest women on earth and I won't have her disparaged.

The fact that her mom looks like her face is getting shoved through a tennis racket is NOT her fault.

I am going to have to fight everyone in this thread. Someone find my dueling pants!

realitytv said...

Oh, gosh. I love them on Celebrity Apprentice. haha...I think for once Trump isn't running the show and he can't control things, those Rivers gals are. I can't wait to see what happens next with those two ---their behaviour is just 'that' outrageous and I can't wait to see Trump try to reign them in---he hasn't yet, but most likely he'll find a way. (unless....Rivers quits tonight? I suspect Joan quits to save Melissa soon...jmo though!!!)

Da Old Man said...

They are a bit over the top. Each has threatened to walk if the other is eliminated. Just kind of silly behavior.

Henson Ray said...

Daisy--I agree. Jesse has been my favorite from the beginning...although on last night's show, he displayed some rather uncalled for behavior...granted, I'm not a Clint Black fan, but come on...

MamaFlo--Trump doesn't bother me...I just think he's sort of funny...but Ivanka Trump...now that's a woman with a great sense of humor...she constantly cracks me up with the things she says...beautiful, smart and funny...must take after her mother...

Acadia--sounds like you know Melissa Rivers...and if you do, more power to you...she may be the greatest person on earth, but it's her appearance on television shows that makes such a lasting impression...and last night's episode made her look like a really poor loser...I mean, people have been conspired against much worse than her...

realitytv--yes, it's like watching The Surreal Life with a purpose. I'm sure one of the reasons Joan has survived so long is because she makes great television. And that Annie woman...UGH...can't stand her!

Da Old Man--I agree. Ridiculous!

Daisy said...

Yeah, I was a little disappointed in how he acted on the last episode. But he was hilarious in the boardroom!

Mrs4444 said...

I always thought Joan was kooky, but in an endearing way. I actually didn't mind Melissa through most of the show, but that exit--totally lost every bit of respect that I had for her. She may have been bitchy before that, but I thought she had some class. Not any more...

Joao said...

It would be like watching paint dry without those Rivers gals fluttering about like harpies. They are a producer's dream!

Whatever we think, Joan is right - the others are mostly odious or dull - at least the cowboy has a quiet dignity about him. Annie Duke has already worn out the perpendicular pronoun and is the only celeb contestant that could give crafty Piers Morgan a run for his money.

You can see what Melissa thinks on the web - she's already given an interview to Celebrity Smack.

Is it just me or is the Apprentice format beginning to pale ?