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MTV: What you need to know about five new shows

April 27, 2012 |  6:30 am

Zachstone
NEW YORK -- MTV unveiled a not-so-pregnant-looking Snooki and a very-polished-sounding Alicia Keys at its annual upfront in this city's Beacon Theatre on Thursday. It also teased clips from a host of new shows that you’ll see roll out over the next year, everything from a docu-series about online dating to a scripted comedy about unemployment. Here are the takeaways on the five new series.

“Catfish” -- Neve Schulman stole Sundance Film Festival-goers' hearts as the charming, unusually credulous victim at the center of an online-dating hoax a couple of years back. Now he’s moving from subject to counselor as he helps everyday people explore  “what happens when you fall in love with someone you never met.” From the footage here, Schulman combs through a newly swooning person's online correspondence and takes them to their new paramour's house to see if the online lover is who they say they are. The footage suggested a reality-dating show -- someone falls in love with a person they’ve never met and barely know (it could almost be the “Bachelor”) -- meets “To Catch a Predator.” That's not necessarily a good thing.

“Wake Brothers” -- On its face, the idea of watching two surfer dudes, as Phil and Bob Soven are, fight to win wakeboarding competitions and top each other suggests a glorified look at an X-Games competition. But what could have been self-indulgent comes off as casual and funny, as the brothers — who also brought their act to the stage Thursday — enjoy plenty of genuinely zany and spontaneous moments.

“Underemployed” — A group of early twentysomethings struggle with love and employment in a post-college haze of self-doubt and entitlement. No , it’s not “Girls,” but “Underemployed,” MTV’s spin on the Millennials-adrift genre. Maybe it’s just that the show, from "Six Feet Under" veteran Craig Wright, is being introduced as the rough-around-the-edges “Girls” continues its run in the zeitgeist, but the clips of “Underemployed” showed a series far too slick and glib to be anything close to relatable. The one-liners didn’t quite land either.

“The Inbetweeners”—You’ve seen the types many times before in “Superbad,” “Project X” and other Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips films: teen boys who are not exactly nerdy but far away from cool bumble their way through life and love in high school. You’ll see them again in “Inbetweeners,” Brad Copeland’s adaptation of a British series.

“Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous”—With his showy manner and snarky style, the viral-video star Bo Burnham isn’t to everyone’s taste. But what he displayed in this scripted show—playing a version of himself as a young man trying to make it as an Internet star (complete with meta touches, like Stone filming scenes from his fictional life)--was funny and unusual.  If it doesn’t wear thin or push certain buttons too hard, MTV could have a sleeper on its hands.

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--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Bo Burnham in "Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous." Credit: Sam Urdank/MTV

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