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Pop Life: Let's Get Physical

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Some people see "Celebrity Fit Club" and ask, "Why?" But I see it and ask, "Screech, again? Joanie from Happy Days? Sommore from The Queens of Comedy?" Even awesomer than the season with Willie Aames. Wait — who is this furry-headed angel that appears before me? Willie Aames! This is the best Celebrity Fit Club ever! It's amazing that nothing can kill this show, and that after five seasons of mayhem, it keeps scaling new heights of Z-list agony. It looks like America can't get enough of watching yesterday's beloved TV stars don sweatsuits of redemption-scented Lycra and go to boot camp to regain the eye of the tiger. We, the viewers, play Paulie to their Rocky, watching ringside as they endure ridiculously pointless torments — obstacle courses, muddy stick-fights, listening to Toccara Jones scream "Kiss my ass!" at the judges — while following some dumb diet nobody really gives a vegan crap about. VH1 knows who's watching, and how deeply we care about fitness, judging from all the ads for Oreo Cakesters and Taco Bell.

The key to appreciating Celebrity Fit Club? You have to understand, what seems like total humiliation to you or me is, for these people, the least humiliating part of their day. It's showbiz for them, the place where they feel safe as the cameras roll. Nobody's asking them who they are or what they're doing on camera; nobody asks them to step aside. That's why they gladly drop in the mud and do twenty push-ups for Harvey, the drill sergeant from some army or another. (What army would hire this guy? He wouldn't even be scary in the Kiss army.) That's why this is the show where reality-show lifers like Da Brat or Toccara can find a home. For the Fit Clubbers, this hellhole is their refuge from the minute-by-minute humiliations of normal life.

I was stoked to see Sommore ("I love that my ass is big!"), one of the funniest people alive. I assumed she would be the hot crazy one, but I was wrong — she's definitely the hot one, but the crazy one turns out to be Toccara, the annoying model from a previous season. Toccara believes (correctly) she is in prime shape already, but that means there's nothing for her to do except cry and try to strangle the psychotherapist and slap that toothily smug diet doctor, which is a lot more fun than watching her exercise.

We get A.J. Benza, the E! Network lug who used to say, "Fame — ain't it a bitch," now giving Toccara stern head-shakes and muttering, "She's dead to me now!" We get Tina Yothers, Erin Moran and Willie Aames, who had excellent desert sex with Phoebe Cates in Paradise, the finest film of the Eighties. But Harvey is still the most entertaining presence — he's like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, if he came back from Vietnam and started giving workout wisdom to Gunnar Nelson and Isaac from The Love Boat. Most grown men, after yelling "Don't ever threaten me, bitch" at Screech, would change their names and go into hiding. So I respect Harvey for hanging in there. Keeping a straight face when the doctor pleads, "Have some class, Toccara!" — that has to be the most painful challenge on the show.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV and pop culture. He is the author of two books, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran and Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.

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