12.26.2005

Roll Models


Rollergirls” is a new reality show on A&E produced by the same folks who make MTV’s “Laguna Beach.” The show focuses on the TXRD, an all-girl roller derby league in Austin, Texas, and while the weekly roller derby bouts are the backbone of the show, the real focus is the various women that populate the league — women with cool roller derby names like Punky Bruiser, Venis Envy and Miss Conduct.

The show itself looks gorgeous, and is shot much like “Laguna Beach,” with the cameras stepping back to provide a cinematic and voyeuristic feel. Such added attention to detail makes it the best-looking reality show on TV. As well, because of its hour-long running time, the women are allowed to have fully developed personalities rather than the simple caricatures most reality shows opt for. The show’s music supervision is interesting too, utilizing songs from indie and up and coming artists as opposed to the non-stop pop of “Laguna Beach.” “Rollergirls” isn’t a wall-to-wall music montage, though this may be a fiscal restraint more than anything else. MTV is able to skirt most music licensing in their reality programs, which is why most of their shows aren’t syndicated or released on DVD. But the up and coming artists featured on “Rollergirls” give the show its gritty feel anyway. And besides, it’d be weird to have Hilary Duff singing over a scene that featured a bunch of tattooed badasses knocking into each other on rollerskates.

The Rollergirls take their sport very seriously, and though the weekly bouts are hard to follow, it doesn’t really matter. The personal struggles of these tough women are what will bring us back each week anyway. Though the sport itself is pretty silly, the league remains organic. Save for the bigwigs at A&E, the TXRD doesn’t appear to have (yet) been corrupted by a big, evil multinational corporation, and it’s nice to see a group of women focused on building something positive for their community. It’s hard to know whether the show will be a hit, or whether the documentary feel and the girls’ brash personalities will turn audiences away, but the show’s first three episodes were much classier than we expected. Visit the show’s official site here for clips, photos and other goodies. And look for the show on A&E.

Related posts: An Open Letter to MTV’s ‘Laguna Beach’ | Reality TV Catchphrases

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