Sunset Tan: Season 1
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // $19.98 // August 5, 2008
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 28, 2008
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"Sunset Tan" is an E! series that follows the adventures of the employees of Sunset Tan, a popular set of Hollywood tanning salons that are frequented by celebrities - the show's first scene sees Britney Spears (who loves to tan because it's her "time to escape from the world." - there's so many things wrong with using tanning as a "getaway" that I don't know where to begin) appearing at one of the locations to get a tan.

Although that scene plays up the celebrity-obsessed nature of the network in a fairly light way, the second scene is much more troubling - a mother takes her daughter into the salon for a tan for the school picture. The two want the kind of tan that Lindsay Lohan gets because the mother wants the daughter to look like Lindsay Lohan and the daughter wants to look like Lohan, too. Yikes. Cost of the very fake-looking tan and accessories? $1,200. Double yikes. Let me repeat this, because it needs to be repeated....these two just paid $1,200....for one of them to get a brief tan and some accessories.

Despite the fact that the young girl clearly doesn't want to be sprayed with chemicals, after everything is said and done both mother and daughter are pleased with her extremely expensive tan. While I have to imagine tanning by just being outside all the time in sunny Calfornia would be a whole lot cheaper, apparently some people need to be tan right here, right now and are willing to pay up (big-time) for it.

The series follows founders/owners Devin and Jeff, as well as managers/employees Janelle, Erin, Keely, Nick and the "Olly" girls (bimbos Molly and Holly) as the bunch squabbles, argues, flirts and, occasionally, tries to actually manage a business. Erin differs from the others and gives something resembling an outsider's perspective, as she's from a small town in Oklahoma. However, the rest of the bunch are shallow and hardly seem to go very long without a petty, catty argument. When it becomes apparent that another location is going to be opening in Vegas, all bets are off between the employees, who compete desperately for the chance to head the new location.

I'm not one who minds reality shows, but this series is tough to watch, as these characters are almost painfully shallow. Erin is the only one who has some difficulty with all the crazy goings-on, but if she's having that much trouble being around these people, why doesn't she consider seeing if she can do something else with her life? It's difficult to feel much sympathy for her, although she's clearly the one stuck in the series to fill the sympathetic role. While shallow and vain has been done before in the reality TV genre, what makes this show really difficult is the petty arguing. Much of it is so very high school and the manufactured conflicts are tough to get involved in when the people are so shrill and largely revolve around, well, tanning. There's also the Olly Girls, who are highly promoted as characters in the series, but both of them seem to strain to produce a thought. The two girls make Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie seem brilliant by comparison.

It's also rather dismaying to see people acting so relaxed about frequent tanning. Every year, nearly 2.3 million American teenagers visit tanning salons, which leads to a significantly increased risk of melanoma. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "across all age groups, males and females who have ever used tanning beds have a 15 percent higher risk of developing melanoma." Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) introduced the "Tan Act", which would require Food and Drug Administration to determine whether the current labeling of indoor tanning beds provides sufficient information about the risks associated with indoor tanning. UV rays emitted by tanning booths are so concentrated, 20 minutes of exposure is equal to more than three hours outdoors in the sun.

Overall, I don't have anything against reality shows, but I really didn't find anything to enjoy about "Sunset Tan" - it's a frequently catty, mean and shallow series that takes its flat, repetitive conflicts too seriously.


VIDEO: For a show that's apparently about looking sleek and sexy, "Sunset Tan" could look quite a bit better - the series looks as if it was filmed with lower-end consumer cameras. Blah cinematography is given a fairly blah presentation here, as well; the show looks rather soft and fuzzy more often than one might expect, and colors can look muddy and smeary. If that wasn't enough, some mild pixelation and shimmering are also noticed in some scenes, as well.

SOUND: Clear, crisp stereo audio.

EXTRAS: Red carpet interviews, "Olly Girls" featurettes and deleted scenes.

Final Thoughts: "Sunset Tan" suffers from the core problem of the central plot - watching these superficial, shrill people trying to run a business in-between trying to be catty to one another is just not interesting in the slightest. The DVD offers so-so video quality, fine audio and a few minor extras. Skip it.

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