Guest starlets Britney and Paris vie for ratings

Ratings are God. OK, let me
rephrase that before someone chucks a Bible/Koran/Torah/Vedas/dog-eared
copy of Atlas Shrugged at my head (what, no radical individualists
here?). In the world of television, ratings are God. Sure, good writing
and strong acting are minor gods. But the Big Kahuna is, and always
will be, ratings. In the quest for more and bigger ones, television
has a long and sordid history of sacrificial offerings

stunt casting. Though, sometimes when you consider who they’re offering
up, you wonder if we the audience aren’t the ones being sacrificed
instead. Case in point:

Oy. Two well-regarded (if
not on my must-see list) shows, How I Met Your Mother
and My Name Is Earl, are bringing on guest starlets Britney
Spears
and Paris Hilton, respectively. Both shows are no
doubt relying on the high-profile cameos to help them build buzz for
their new episodes as they return post–writers’ strike. And, dagnabbit,
if it hasn’t worked. Still, as the doomed character in any sci-fi
film would say, “Dear God, what have we done?!”

Brit-Brit, who will appear
on How I Met Your Mother March 24, is no doubt using her one-episode
appearance as yet another comeback launching pad. She will play “Abby,”
a receptionist for Ted’s dermatologist who becomes smitten with him.
Scrubs
star Sarah Chalke
will play the dermatologist. Not like anyone noticed with all the “Oh,
my God, that Britney’s shameless” hoopla going around. In fact,
Alicia Silverstone
dropped out from the dermatologist role precisely
for that reason.

Paris will pop up on My
Name Is Earl
in a dream sequence (or should we say nightmare?) on
April 3. I used to watch Earl, that first season before the
Ugly Betty/30 Rock
battle royale for my heart took over. Paris apparently
appears to Earl while he is in a coma. That do-not-resuscitate consent
form is looking better and better.

Now, I’m sure neither starlet
will be horrible in her role. Alyson Hannigan even dubbed
Britney “lovely” and said, “I have been quite impressed by Britney’s
performance. The character she is playing is very sweet and endearing,
which seems to come naturally to her.” Plus, this kind of guest-star-itis,
while acute, is usually blessedly brief.

So here is my question: Does
any of this actually make you want to watch? And, if you do watch, are
you watching for the train wreck (for reference, please see the MTV Video Music
Awards
), or are
you watching for the sheer celebrity of it all? And, finally, if Paris
makes good on her threat to guest
star on The L Word
,
will you boycott or, better yet, girlcott? Discuss.

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