'Erotic' Russian TV show moved from 9 to 11 p.m. slot
'What the show is really like is an hour-long ride on a school bus'

'Erotic or not, the main problem with the new 11 p.m. slot for me was that I couldn't keep my eyes open…On Wednesday night, the censors ensured that our morals were uncorrupted by replacing the 9 p.m. showing with Bruce Willis in The Whole Ten Yards.'

By Anna Malpas
The St. Petersburg Times

Last week, TNT television lost an appeal and was forced to shift its long-running reality show Dom-2 (Home 2) to an 11 p.m. slot because it has been officially classed as "erotic."

The show is nominally about young people working together to build a house, which will then be the prize for a couple that falls in love on the show. However, it's fair to say that the contestants do not have the gnarled hands and sunburn of people who actually work on a construction site.

The romantic aspect of the show means that contestants can be voted out if they don't have a partner, although this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. What the show is really like is an hour-long ride on a school bus, as the contestants lounge about and endlessly discuss what he said and she said and whether Roman likes Vika.

The verdict came after three people from various Russian regions went to court, saying the show falls under the vague "erotica" category in a media law. At least two of the people are members of a conservative group called the All-Russia Parents' Meeting, which doesn't like sex education in schools.

Two groups of experts watched the show with a legal eye and ruled on whether it is erotic — one said no, another said yes. The judge ruled that the show is erotic and so can't be shown in its normal daytime and 9 p.m. slots.

Strangely, the show has been running for five years without anyone spotting its erotic nature, although it has prompted regular spoutings of outrage from Duma deputies and even the chief of police.

On Wednesday night, the censors ensured that our morals were uncorrupted by replacing the 9 p.m. showing with Bruce Willis in "The Whole Ten Yards."

The main problem with watching Dom-2 if you're not a devotee is that there are dozens of contestants, linked to each other in an intricate web of quarrels, kisses and bitching sessions, none of which is ever explained to the fairweather viewer. There are just terse subtitles to each scene, such as "Dasha and Katya in the girls' dormitory."

The main topic on Wednesday's show was an incident in which Dasha turned up uninvited to Zhenya's birthday with a bunch of flowers and the birthday girl walked off in a huff. This was discussed in minute detail on Thursday — although I still have no idea what the two girls had quarreled about.

In another strand, the contestants discussed a blonde girl, Ira, who kissed a boy on the roof. She said they did it on purpose because they realized two girls were watching them through a window. Ira described the voyeurs as her "best friends," although she added a disclaimer that "I have a lot of best friends."

The most dramatic episode came after a curly-haired girl called Veronika went to dinner with a former boyfriend called Rustam. They ended up kissing, and the girl's new flame, Misha, was none too pleased. In a showdown, the girl said she wanted to go back to Rustam, but he wasn't so keen. "I'd like you to leave the show, that would be best for all of us," he said in a parting shot.

There were a few kisses, but everyone kept their clothes on. The girls did a lot of lying about on beds with their latest best friends, which might be erotic in a boarding school dormitory kind of way. But the male contestants tend to relax in flip-flops and hideous T-shirts and fall far short of Mr. Darcy standards.

Erotic or not, the main problem with the new 11 p.m. slot for me was that I couldn't keep my eyes open.

October 27, 2009 — Return to cover.
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