Wakeboarding Brothers Take a Second Run for Reality on MTV’s WakeBrothers
By. Steve Hartman
Centering around two wakeboarding brothers living in a house on their own, Wake Brothers premiered on MTV this past summer to lackluster reviews as the brothers Soven mixed their professional lives with private lives. It went a full 12 episode season so I decided to check out this self-proclaimed comedic reality series.
It shows the life of a pair of competing wakeboarding champions in the only way MTV knows how to show it. The backdrop being Phil’s house on a private lake and bathing suit clad 20-somethings running around. Bob is the younger brother to Phil and while Phil seems bent on living a leisurely yet professional lifestyle, Bob is all about trying to get girls.
In fact, the pilot starts out with a scene from a pilot that these two brothers created two years ago but failed to get on the air where Bob proclaims his desire to lose his virginity in a new house Phil is building and allowing Bob to live in. Sounds very soapy and reality-y.
“Maybe if he focused a little more of his talents on wakeboarding instead of stupid stuff he wouldn’t be losing the tour.” Phil says when coaxed into a friendly competition with his bro. It’s these interactions that you really see a certain amount of naïve and immature side to Bob.
Most of the fights, coming up with competitions like the aforementioned and theatrics seem planned and, in some cases, forced. It’s that or they are purposely playing up a certain character because they are on TV. It’s hard to distinguish between reality and soap opera and I wondered if that had to do with a combination of a nineteen year old Bob and the current height of reality television in which he had grown up. He very well may be a portrayal of himself rather than being himself. It seems like he takes cues from the producer on set and may sit around purposely coming up with pranks and tricks to pull to make for compelling television.
It’s not compelling though. The first prank is sneaking into his older brother’s bedroom and taking the sheet off the bed while he sleeps with his girlfriend. This is followed with presenting a cake as an apology. It feels like this was taken from multiple takes and planned well in advanced.
A scene takes place where Phil’s current girlfriend allows Bob to meet one of her friends and they double date. It sounded gimmicky. Then when Bob, a geeky wakeboarding athlete, tries out different dating tricks and then fails, it felt gimmicky.
Phil seems along for the ride trying to enjoy his time in the MTV spotlight but struggling. It feels like this whole show was a publicist’s idea to expose these two wakeboarders to a broader audience for branding purposes. And what better way than to show cool wakeboarding stunts around hot guys and girls in their bathing suits?
Sixteen minutes into the pilot we meet the parents. Phil has created a dangerous rail stunt off the lake behind his house and his mother claimed that five years prior Bob was in a serious accident that put him in a coma for three days and caused a head injury. She doesn’t want him to test it out. Of course Bob claims he wants to be the guinea pig and try this new stunt in spite of their parent’s protests. Sound gimmicky?
Even the photo from this accident looked like they wrapped Bob in a few head bandages and took the picture 10 minutes before he tries this stunt. Alas, we have our cliffhanger. Bob tries the rail stunt, fails at it, but lifts himself out of the water on his own accord. You then get to see some of the leading wakeboarders in the business fail miserably as well including big brother. How does the show end? Bob hits both rails after setting up a deal to get a kiss on the cheek from a cute blonde if he did as promised. Yawn, gimmicky.
But I actually found myself slightly entertained in this comedic reality show if only because Phil (the anti-realtiy show) was showing how ridiculous Bob (the reality show) was acting for the cameras. Peppered with the occasional wakeboarding stunts and tricks you actually see how flawlessly these two guys can really pull it off while making it look so easy. They are, after all, pro wakeboarders.
I’m 31 and I’m an old man. The demographics for a show like this are probably half my age. Watching a nineteen year old cocky kid think he can get girls and trying to hook up with the people around him seems desperate and cheap and, again, only slightly entertaining. Meanwhile, you have Phil who talks more about competition and actually doing things to stay at the top of his game. Overall, I found that it felt like it stunk of bad reality television that can’t seem to be realistic at all. It may not be scripted, but WakeBrothers sure felt like it.