Television

'Downsized,' premiering Saturday on WE tv

Verne Gay
Newsday (MCT)

REASON TO WATCH: Real family coping under financial stress.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Under the bright Arizona sun, the good times seemed destined to stretch on forever, much like the distant mountain vistas. And then, they stopped. They stopped everywhere, but the screeching halt was especially dramatic in places like this because of the building boom and subsequent bust.

That's where Laura and Todd Bruce come in. He's a former contractor whose business, he says, was pulling down $1.5 million a year. That ended, and with it, a spending lifestyle that burned through (he says) up to $18,000 a month. Previously married, the Bruces "blended" their families into a Brady Bunch-like mass of kids, each jostling for shower time and high-school dignity. They are Bruce's kids, Heather, 17, and Levi, 15; Laura — a first-grade teacher — is mother to Bailey, 17, triplets Rex, Dylan and Whitney, 15, and Danielle, 10. In the premiere episode, the Bruces scramble to find $300 to pay the rent.

MY SAY: The first question that will occur to you, as it occurred to me, is the most obvious one under that hot Arizona sun: Did WE tv pay them for this? Per a WE tv statement, "They are paid a standard reality show fee, which they received after taping was complete." Taping was completed in July, so presumably — hopefully — the Bruces can afford the rent now.

"Downsized" is a terrific idea for a TV show — examining the hard knocks of the recession on real people instead of tracking Snooki en route to another bender — and the Bruces seem like good people. But based on tomorrow's launch, the core premise has a flaw ...

BOTTOM LINE: As you watch this, the fourth wall will keep getting in the way. You can't help realizing that just by the act of taping a reality show, the Bruces — all nine of them — are already employed in a job, albeit a temporary one. And if Todd really needs three hundred bucks, borrow it from the producer who's standing on the other side of the camera. He's good for it.

DOWNSIZED

9 p.m. EDT Saturday

WE tv

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.