By Jordan Walker
Show Rating: 2.75/5
MTV is jumping back into the scripted show arena with its new coming of age comedy, “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.” The show chronicles the life of a teenager who has nothing going for him except the size of his manhood. If you’re into crude, sex-filled, and clichéd comedy, this show is perfect.
The show comes off as a harmless, albeit typical and overdone, tale about a geeky looking guy named RJ (Paul Iacono). He is a social outcast and has a fat best friend as a sidekick, a crush on the most popular sexy blonde bombshell in school, and an enemy in the form of a douche bag jock who dates the sexy bombshell. Smells like many of coming of age movies from the 1980’s that this generation is too young to remember. The only original spin: the protagonist has an extremely large penis, and he plans on using it to win over the whole school and gain popularity – and hopefully win the heart (and something else) of Jenny Swanson (Amber Lancaster).
RJ’s big secret about his big package gets out as his basketball coach forces him to enter the last couple seconds of the game to save the team from having to forfeit. After taking an unsuccessful Hail-Mary shot, RJ’s basketball shorts, along with his jock strap, fall to the ground in front of the entire student body. Semi-laughable, but as the moment was approaching, it was extremely predictable. The show does have laugh out loud moments. However, most of them come from the supporting cast members.
RJ’s has only two friends: the desperate-for-a-girl Miles (Jareb Dauplaise), who cuddles with a passed out girl in a Jacuzzi who goes on to puke on him (not that he cares, as long as he gets to hold this half naked girl in his arms), and Lily (Kara Taitz), who is the typical, unattractive best friend who has an unnatural crush on RJ and has no problem at all expressing that to him. Miles and Lily, with the hatred between the two, are the two best characters on the show. Jenny Swanson is the archetypal blonde who all social misfits have a crush on, and she walks around with the same “I’m a sexy dumb blonde” smile on her face as Paris Hilton. And lastly, there is Max Owens (Jayson Blair), a standard, meathead jock that is seen in all shows/movies in this genre who dates the hot chick and makes life a living hell for RJ. An example of his douche-bagginess: he rubbed his hand under his smelly armpit and then rubbed it under RJ’S nose during the basketball game and exclaimed, “this is what a man smells like!”
Of course you have to cheer for RJ though, that’s just how things are suppose to go. This guy is the ridicule of his school, terribly picked on by super-jock Max. And he thinks his natural gift is a curse, as revealed in an anime-styled flashback when he had his first sexual experience with Asian student Natsumi, and the stunning realization that she almost choked to death on his package. However, at the end of the first episode RJ gets his revenge on Max when he drops his pants, this time on purpose at a pool party, reaches down and rubs his package, and then serves a “nut musk” under Max’s nose and declares, “that’s how a man smells, bitch!” The viewer’s inner nerd can do nothing but stand up and cheer for RJ’s sweet vindication, even if it is short lived since both RJ and Miles realize that their lives may be over in school come Monday.
“Hard Times” only managed to garner 2.6 million views on its night – a number expected to drop throughout the season. So it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Although it would be nice to see MTV create more scripted shows – and hopefully more original ones – to go along with “Jersey Shore” or “The Hills,” “The Hard Times of RJ Berger” will do, for now.