I die

Hate to love — and love to hate — these reality TV stars
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Rachel Zoe, loved?

kimberly@sfbg.com

TV EYED Can't live with 'em, can't turn on the glass teat without spying a rerun. Still, the wasteland boasts a few reality TV characters worth studying.

THUS SPAKE ZOE-THUSTRA

Kill me now, club me with a Balenciaga handbag, drive a stake through my heart, and kick me into a coffin in a fabulous Ossie Clark caftan and a Biba head-wrap. Yes, you are driven bananas by the stylist-to-the-starz Rachel Zoe's cute-speak, which rivals TV's other Rach, namely Rachael Ray. But you found yourself surrendering to the too-easily-ridiculed, unrepentantly shopaholic Zoe-ster, who mostly resembles a heavily lashed, butterscotch Pekinese in vintage. The killer combo of her tearful, puffy, well-vaselined makeup-time confessionals to her adorable Prince-ling of a hairdresser and makeup artist Joey and her not-so-latent mothering of her feuding, odd-couple assistants (self-described "psycho bitch" Taylor and not-quite-perfect prepster Brad) made me want peer all the harder behind those bug-eyed sunglasses and those fluffed-up efforts at boring ole branding. Too bad the brief, campily cartoonish docu-reality series Rachel Zoe Project has been shut down — with Bravo yet to announce its renewal or demise. I know, "I die."

MYSTERY MEET

Credit goes to the Guardian's Johnny Ray Huston for wingmaning me toward VH-1's The Pick-Up Artist 2 and host Mystery, whose howlingly lame pimp-styley fake-fur hats and man-bejeweled talons make him the cheesiest burger yet to be tossed on the Barbie. And Barbies are the bait for the geeks, freaks, never-kissed, and outright virgins salivating gratefully for any insight into Mystery's hottie-pulling technique. Are Mystery's secrets simply common sense strategies on how to charm, bedazzle, and influence others that at one time dads or mentors might have showed these social misfits? I have a hard time believing a Criss Angel-like corn-meister like Mystery is the new Casanova. In the meantime I'm enjoying all the dated '90s-rocker ensembles and guyliner abuse that happens along the way.

BEST SERVED QUIRKY

The fifth season of Top Chef — this time set in the Big brunoise-able Apple — fires up tonight, Nov. 12, and I already have at least two toques to watch: Richard, the cuddly bear from San Diego on Team Rainbow, the show's petite LGBT contingent. He slices through his thumb during the first challenge, yet keeps on paring, and calls Tom Colicchio a "cutie," which will doubtless win the hearts of everyone crushed out on our angry Mr. Clean. And there's Carla, the cafe-colored caterer with the soignée yet goofy demeanor and physique of a Saturday morning kids' show giraffe. She issued my fave quip so far: "I want to be led to do this dish, basically, by my spirit guide." Yep, a Euro invasion amps up the competition — and challenges the language juggling abilities and skill sets of the American chefs. I sense the contest coming down between the hard-bitten — and bald — purveyors of seemingly effortless sophistication and the work-horses who knuckled down to scrape their way out of dishwashing. But it's the quirkies that bring much-needed seasoning to the newly sped-up series, already on pace with the city that never sleeps.

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