I Want My MTV: Looking Back At THE OSBOURNES - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

I Want My MTV: Looking Back At THE OSBOURNES

Chris Morley learns how to love, and forgets how to hate.
Beginning in 2002, and for a time during its first season MTV's most-watched reality series, The Osbournes opened with a house move for Ozzy Osbourne, the former Black Sabbath frontman, and his family. In retrospect perhaps this was an apt metaphor for his transition into the unlikeliest of television patriarchs alongside wife/manager Sharon, son Jack & daughter Kelly in a mix of all too real life and the obviously scripted. From Master of Reality to a pawn in its game.

But while there's plenty of playing along with Ozzy's carefully crafted image as the herald of heavy metal, there's also much to be found in the glimpses of him as a man - telling his children not to drink or take drugs and practice safe sex when they go clubbing. Not exactly the Rock & Roll lifestyle the one-time Prince of Darkness had been known for!

With each episode opening with a Pat Boone lounge music-style cover of Crazy Train, you might think this isn't the same Ozzy who once bit the head of a bat! But some years after the series ended, Ozzy admitted that he was "stoned during the entire filming of The Osbournes."

Acting as both a reality series revealing the family life, as well as working as promotion for intially Ozzy's career, then later pretty-much the entire family, episode three is a perfect example of how the series balanced the two strands. Scenes were filmed around the release of Ozzy's then-newest solo album and a radio interview with Sharon about their relationship, then we get an insight into a bout of depression for Jack - at which point we might be forgiven for wondering whether he was ready to be opened up to the viewing public at such a young age, given that he was still a high school student. Elder sister Aimee, perhaps wisely, had chosen not to be involved at all, and indeed openly criticised her parents for agreeing to the whole thing. Jack's mental health struggle was just a first glimpse as why his big sister might have been so reluctant to take part.

The following week we're almost in sitcom territory as the Osbournes get new neighbours playing loud music at all hours of the day! Sharon bizarrely throws ham over the fence in some sort of odd declaration of war before the police turn up, Ozzy then throwing firewood into the mix hardly helps matters but perhaps works as a gentle reminder that this isn't a sort of Brummie Brady Bunch. And of course there has to be a promotional peek behind the scenes as the one-man Blizzard of Ozz gets ready to go out on tour, a process Sharon reveals he actually finds somewhat stressful as he works out in preparation - the pitfalls of having your partner also serving as manager illustrated when her plans for special effects fail to get a seal of approval as the man making the music worries they'll detract from his art.

Speaking afterwards, Ozzy would admit that the attempt at getting fit was something of a charade.
"When the filming ended, I'd go in my little bunker and smoke a pipe and drink about a case of beer every day. I'd give myself some goodness and get up early in the morning and go jogging for six miles."
The curious mix of the domestic and at times excruciatingly public continues into a second series with a visit to the White House, then-President George W Bush quipping...
"The thing about Ozzy is, he's made a lot of big hit recordings — "Party With the Animals," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," "Face in Hell," "Black Skies" and "Bloodbath in Paradise"...Ozzy, mom loves your stuff."
The second series also documented Sharon undergoing cancer treatment and the family reacting to it - another test for Ozzy's sobriety while on his annual Ozzfest tour. Yet again its open to debate as to whether this sensitive issue for all involved should have been put before a viewing public, especially when it was interwoven against a backdrop of daughter Kelly now launching her own attempt at a career in music by covering Madonna's Papa Don't Preach.

She later dueted with her dear old dad on a slightly rewritten Changes from the Sabbath back catalogue. The original documenting a man's love for a woman now gone from his side after being given the push, the 2003 version transformed into a father having to accept that his little girl is all grown up.

In hindsight Kelly was happy to admit that...
“I only did this for the money. It allowed me to buy my own house I get to move out and I get to do what I want to do without having to live off my parents and I think that's the most gratifying thing ever”.
Much of the third series centered around Ozzy's recovery from a quad biking accident and Sharon's struggles with fronting - and promotion for - her solo talk show, as well as the strain of being apart. Though the couple do get a chance for cozy Valentines special, which might make interesting viewing for those wondering how a union with so many ups and massive/beyond belief downs could possibly have survived this long.

Things then come to a head for the final season as both kids struggle with rehab. The finale itself, A Farewell To Ozz, ends the series on an ironically sobering note, serving as a public family therapy session with American TV psychologist Dr Phil. Perhaps not the wisest move and certainly/possibly/hopefully not something that would be attempted now given the rapid rise in demand for similar reality TV in the wake of The Osbournes.

Rewatching the series now can be an uncomfortable experience, given the often demonstrated adverse effect of having every move played out before the camera; a lens which spares no-one, famous or not. The Osbournes was a sobering lesson delivered through a look at a man who really wasn't sober at the time, and those around him apparently happy to put profit before personal pain and the necessary healing process.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad