Sick again, and I'm not even sure if this is the second or third bout of flu this season. Thankfully I have my employer DVD Talk to keep me company as my stuffy head, fever, aches and pains keep me couch-bound on a beautiful sunny day. Not optimal viewing conditions, to be sure, but then what are optimal conditions to sit through two-and-a-half-hours of the Rad Girls? Whatever keeps you glued to your seat for this distaff Jackass meets Punk'd reality show; enjoying this weirdness in as few sittings as possible might be best way to go.
Spreading eight 22-minute episodes from season two over two discs, this rad package will confound those who aren't in the know. I'll venture there aren't a whole hell of a lot of you in the know concerning this 3rd-tier cable program. Yet when it was dropped from its first channel, Those In The Know raised a large enough stink to bring Rad Girls back to life on MavTV. Any road, what to the uninitiated looks like a dodgy prospect - the daredevil girls are seen on the DVD cover doing such outrageous and dangerous stunts as using a neti pot, for cripes sake - is oddly endearing and quite entertaining.
It's simply an interesting experiment, too - the Jackass boys are uniquely male in their debasements and stunts - so what should the women's version look like? Will it be as gleefully violent, as homo-erotically charged, as disgusting? A super slow start in the first episode doesn't bode well; chewing 'ABC' gum ('already been chewed') in a cheap fish and chips restaurant? Is this stunt show equality? Or should that even matter? The answer is no, but I've already forgotten the question. Just know that by the end of the episode, Rad Girl Munchie drinks an entire mason jar of her own fresh piss, an act that causes producer J-Mar to puke multiple times on camera.
But really, Rad Girls isn't just the girly version of Jackass, though Munchie definitely fills the gross-bodily-functions part of the bill nicely; she'll eat anything and crap anywhere. Series co-creator Ramona Cash, and Darling Clementine are the other two Rad Girls, and the three seem like they're lifelong friends. There's lots of gross and semi-gross stunts, not nearly the preponderance of violence like on Jackass, and many more humorous hidden-camera pranks and riffs that combine social relevance with puckish humor. You got it, a show on which girls eat bugs and pee on tour vans has social relevance.
It would be tough finding such relevance amongst such low wattage stunts as: beating each other with vegetables, getting hit with a taser, getting hit with a cattle prod, begging for money, chewing tobacco and eating hot wings - if this were a guy show. But the fresh perspective, emotion and humor the Rad Girls bring makes the gross-out stuff and everything else far less crass, and somehow more interesting - it's kind of like watching sane people do the stuff. It also really greases the rails for when clever visual jokes and more intelligent stunts appear. Highlights include 'Fun In Burqas' (Burqa skaters shredding at a park) 'Pregnant Crowd Surfing' and eating barbecue ribs during an on camera interview, all of which show some artistic Dada flair.
When the Rad Girls bust out with similarly low-impact stunts such as challenging senior citizens to shuffleboard or sending their white teammate into an African American hair salon to get her hair done up, the results are both hilarious and insightful, challenging our perceptions of age and race instead of simply our stomachs. A lot of the Rad Girls realm is like Jackass-lite, but they more than make up for it with charm, camaraderie and intelligence. Many of the sequences (especially those filmed in Florida) feature a few too many sleazy, shirtless guys with lame tattoos and nipple piercings for my tastes, but, at least in marathon form, I grew attached to these fun-loving, sleazy gals proving you don't have to be a dumb guy to have a little dumb fun.
Guerilla-style TV like this by nature has a variable appearance. The 16 x 9 episodes generally look OK, but not exceptional in terms of crispness, detail and clarity. Colors are decent and natural, and most compression artifacts are absent. I did notice one brief instance of macro blocking in a dark scene, but feel that otherwise this is simply an average presentation of a low-budget cable TV show.
Sound fares a little worse, if only because some hidden camera skits, by necessity, utilize cheap remote audio. Those bits can occasionally be buzzy and a little hard to understand. Everything else sounds acceptably average, save for frequent, overloud pop songs included in the soundtrack (all with handy title/ artist/ label pop-ups) that stick closely to party metal and grime-rap, or whatever.
Cute one-page Bios of the Rad Girls plus an auto-nav Slideshow Picture Gallery are joined by about 17 minutes of Never-Before-Seen 'Unfit for TV' Bonus Skits that have a lot to do with evacuating various bodily wastes, and other more sexually oriented material.
Rad Girls is much more than the girly version of Jackass. For starters, the focus is less on kicking each other in the groin until someone vomits, sticking things in each other's butts, or being extremely reckless. There are gross-out stunts, and there is violence, but it's all tempered by, shall we say, intelligence? In addition, the girls pull off plenty of artful visual gags, creative prank comedy, and stunts that point towards social relevance. Plus, their work is fun to watch. Tame by modern gross-out standards, yes, but these Rad Girls don't need to constantly up the nasty ante, their camaraderie and brains get the job done with style. Rent It for a fun viewing marathon.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com