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MTV's 'Bridge And Tunnel' is the greatest show you've never seen

April 28, 2009 |  6:08 pm

There is a television show you have never seen, and may never see, that deeply scratches an itch you don't even know you have. It is a television show so delightful, so right for the moment, that it might not even come to exist, because certainly no brand will have its products placed upon it. It is in development at MTV, and it is called "Bridge and Tunnel." It is a reality show that is the inverse of "The Hills" and "The City"; it follows a group of young people on Staten Island, New York City's oft-forgotten and oft-slandered island borough, who dream of making it all the way to Manhattan.

An excerpt was shown today in New York City before a packed auditorium of ad buyers at MTV's upfront — and did you know that ads for the season finale of Fox's "American Idol" were all sold out at circa $850,000 to $900,000 per? That's what one ad buyer told me. I nearly swallowed my Nicorette. Anyway! This excerpt introduced us to a young son of a fireman who had a rocking body, who worked part time as a "party motivator" (a.k.a. softcore bachelorette party stripper) who dreams of becoming a stockbroker.

He goes on a job interview in Manhattan. The banker dude he interviews with — who's a loser! And a jerk! I hate him! — tells our young friend that he needs to lose the diamond stud earring and that maybe someone somewhere will let him work for free. God, I hope that jerk has been laid off. And then our young hero mangles all sorts of words, like thanking the guy for his "construction criticism." This is all so amazing, and I am being totally sincere and earnest and unironic. I nearly cried!

NotebookAlso there is a girl with a Fran Drescher accent who loves popping in and out of tanning beds. Basically my notes from this portion of the screening read: "OMG OMG OMG," so, sorry, I'm a little short on further details. Look, here is a picture of my notebook to prove it!

In summary, all of you should mount a campaign with your Facebooks and your online polls and your eating of Subway sandwiches or whatever campaign didn't save "Chuck" and make sure MTV puts this on the air. Like: "Dear Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV, I do not know if I can go on without this show in my life."

In a sneak preview for another MTV show, "The Stylist," which is a surprisingly compelling if emotionally cheap noncompetition reality show of stylists in Los Angeles, a minor character describes that delightful excruciating shameful feeling that one experiences around other people's conflict. During "Bridge and Tunnel," you could feel the entire auditorium exhale that feeling all at once.

Sean Moran, MTV's EVP of ad sales, agreed jollily that what "Bridge and Tunnel" lacks is what they now call brand-integration opportunities. What did he have to sell then if he can't put sunglasses and scarves on these kids? He expects, he said, to be able to sell audience devotion.

But on the way to getting "Bridge and Tunnel" on the air, MTV's in for a long hot summer. For one big thing, it's making Alexa Chung its everyday afternoon face, and she is selling this annoying interactive "I'm your friend! Except British and really thin and kind of creepy!" thing that, well, no. She uses the word "friend" CONSTANTLY.

Basically her new version of TRL is going to be about reading people's Twitter feeds out loud and being your Facebook buddy and she is just Rocketboom plus Julia Allison plus platform extension, which I guess means there will be like eight girls locked in a room somewhere chatting on Facebook with viewers, sending messages that exhibit all the acumen and emotional connection of Eliza. Tony Disanto, MTV's programming dude, even said that "it's like if MTV and Facebook had a baby." FAIL. In the clip we saw, she grabbed Whitney Port's phone and texted something naughty to Brody Jenner. Oh, Eliza Alexa, what a fun friend you are! You're the kooky friend we never wanted.

Whatever, she'll be gone in September. Back to England with you, girlfriend of one of the Arctic Monkeys! And take a stockpile of some of our fine and fattening American sandwiches with you.

Also MTV is doing the charming if odd "The Buried Life," which is four hot Canadian boys riding around in a bus and mixes the Jonas Brothers and "The Bucket List" and "The Wedding Crashers." They do things they want to do before they die and help you do them too, and I am not convinced they are not a cult. You may be interested to know, advertisers, that there are product integration opportunities available, if you have a wholesome, karmically good brand, or, more likely, can make your product seem that way.

Finally, apparently Lauren Conrad is LEAVING "THE HILLS" OMG WHAT WILL WE ALL DO? SHRIEK! I will get fired if I don't mention this. Unfortunately, no one in attendance had anything to say on the topic of what will become of "The Hills" without L.C. It is a mystery! Also, I wasn't aware that she was still on TV. Really, were you?

On second thought, Alexa Chung will probably be a huge success. How unfortunate for our children's children.

—Choire Sicha