In Picture This! (Sunday, 7 p.m., ABC Family), Mandy (Ashley Tisdale) is a self-proclaimed "crusty nobody" in her high school. The mean girls torment her, the gorgeous guy on campus doesn't know she exists, and her dad won't buy her the expensive video phone that all the cool kids have. If she was only beautiful and had the right merchandise, Mandy could make the gorgeous guy notice her and live happily ever after.
I'm sad to report that there's not an ounce of irony in this scenario. Clueless trod the same territory, but it was satirical, and it had a heart. This movie is a straight-faced paean to buying, lying and acting like a brat.
We're supposed to root for Mandy because she can't get what she wants. But that's all there is to her character: She wants stuff. The movie can't even bring itself to make her truly plain. She's just a supermodel who wears glasses for the first 30 minutes, then "blossoms" by taking them off.
'Cuz, you know, a less-than-pretty heroine would be kind of a loser. And despite the Cinderella setup, Picture This! really hates losers.
Queen Bees, Friday, 8 pm (The N)
This reality series gathers 10 mean girls under one roof for the purpose of rehabilitating them.
I'd say something sarcastic here if I didn't fear nasty looks in the cafeteria.
Miss Universe, Sunday, 8 pm (NBC)
Last spring's Miss USA pageant was another celebration of inanity. During the Final Question, Miss Oklahoma explained her passionate desire to help Britney Spears build self-confidence. Miss Pennsylvania was asked if the cosmetics industry should market their products to elementary school girls. "Yes," she said solemnly. Host Donny Osmond murmured, "Good answer."
This week's Miss Universe will strike the same tone, but isn't it time to end this nonsense once and for all? After Hillary Clinton's serious run for the presidency, do we still want to give women numerical ratings for how they look in bikinis? Do we still want to encourage them to formulate Stepford Wife responses to stupid questions?
With apologies to Donny Osmond, "Yes" is not a good answer.
Plastic Surgery Junkies, Sunday, 9 pm (BBC America)
A bemused Brit travels to Beverly Hills to gawk at our plastic-surgery madness. Louis Theroux has a gift for playing dumb, and no one seems to notice the irony flickering at the edges of his deadpan expression. So they open up to him. The result is an unusually intimate look at L.A.'s human-sculpting underworld, full of sleazy surgeons who compare themselves to Michelangelo and insecure patients looking for a quick fix of self-esteem.
The patients claim to feel better about themselves after surgery, but we feel awful for them. Their faces are like Halloween masks, the flesh immobile. The men have lopsided pectoral implants, the women artificial bellybuttons poked into their tummy tucks.
Luckily I haven't had any face work done myself, so I was still able to wince.
Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence, Monday, 7 pm (TCM)
Bill Murray recently made the news when his wife accused him of being addicted to pot, alcohol and sex, as well as physically abusive. I said "Ewww" when I read that, but Murray's interview with film critic Elvis Mitchell reveals a charming, witty, intelligent man, at least in this context. He discourses eloquently on everything from silent film to screwball comedies to his own work, offering insight into the comic's craft. His heroes include the Marx Brothers, Cary Grant and William Holden, and he's especially enthusiastic about funny women like Margaret Sullavan and the actress/writer/director Elaine May.
"If I'd been around when [Elaine May] was coming up, I would have chained her to her typewriter and made love to her every four hours just to keep her going," Murray says admiringly.
Rock the Reception, Tuesday, 7 pm (TLC)
This series documents the cute new thing for weddings: a first dance choreographed by professionals. The idea is to shock your guests with a snazzy (read: dorky) routine involving bride, groom and bridal party. It sounds fun enough, but rehearsing and pulling off the moves can add stress to an already stressful occasion.
We meet one couple who argue over the dance. Another couple include an exhibitionist bride and a shy groom. "I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown," he says as the performance draws near.
I can imagine a companion business starting up for the dance professionals: choreographing the sashay into divorce court.
Outrageous Wasters, Tuesday, 8 pm (Sundance Channel)
This reality series follows a family that consumes and consumes with no regard for the environment. Eco-experts arrive on the scene to help them change their ways.
It's a noble concept, though as colorful TV villains go, nonrecyclable plastic containers leave something to be desired.