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Television Review

'The Cho Show' is all about the drama queen

'The Cho Show' Margaret Cho and her entourage mix it up on her new reality show. (VH1)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / August 21, 2008
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Is there anyone in Hollywood who doesn't have "people" these days? Every Jane Doe with an imdb.com listing and red-carpet fibers on her heels seems to head up a "Team Doe," a pack of lackeys who make sure their diva has her day - every day. And those selfless elves - stylists, lawyers, personal assistants - keep their obsequiousness muscles ripped and toned.

Tonight, Margaret Cho takes her place in the vanity-reality club alongside Denise Richards, Farrah Fawcett, Britney Spears, Tori Spelling, Roseanne, and the pioneer of the genre, the late Anna Nicole Smith. Called "The Cho Show," the series revolves around Cho's drama-queenli ness and those hangers-on who live to populate her limo. In the premiere, at 11 on VH1, Cho argues with her traditional mother; Cho obsesses about what to wear to the Korean of the Year Awards; Cho consults with her spiritual adviser. Meanwhile, her people stand by affirming her fabulousness. They are the supporting cast in a reality TV show that will pay their own salaries.

As on most vanity projects, the overall theme is: She is who she is, her people are who they are, watch them live in LA. The added subplot on "The Cho Show" is the subplot of Cho's career - her big gay following. As Cho says tonight about her Glam Squad of gay stylists, "Every dog has his day, every diva needs her gay." At one point, two gay men in her entourage - wardrobe specialist Charlie Altuna and makeup artist John Stapleton - have a fierce competition over who'll get to outfit the star for the awards ceremony. "May the best queen win," Cho pronounces. Throughout the show, Cho doesn't mention her marriage, nor do we see her husband, as if he might compromise her gay-icon outsider status.

I generally like watching Cho, who, like Sandra Bernhard and Kathy Griffin, has made an impressive career out of being a blabbermouth. These comedians are both a part of our celebrity culture and a thorn in its side - not an easy position to maintain, as they leave enemies in their wake. They ally themselves with the audience, embracing glamour and fame only in order to make fun of it and subvert it. Not far into the premiere, Cho is talking trash about Jack Black in an impolitic way that most stars avoid like the plague.

But I didn't really like watching Cho in "The Cho Show." The series has a fake, self-aggrandizing feel that Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" overcomes by satirizing the celebreality format. It amounts to little more than a hokey infomercial for her brand.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit boston.com/ae/tv/blog.

The Cho Show

On: VH1

Time: Tonight, 11-11:30

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