Running Diary: Tattoo Highway, Episode 1


The truth is, until I interviewed L.A. Ink’s Kim Saigh a while back, I had never watched any of the tattoo-based reality shows. Whoops. I wasn’t boycotting them or anything—it just came down to the fact that I plain didn’t have the time in my day. I mean, really, between six hours every morning of SportsCenter, the mandatory Coronation Street marathon and praying five times daily to my DVDs of The Wire, where was I supposed to squeeze in the exploits of Kat Von D or whoever?

When I finally got around to watching some episodes, however, for work, my verdict was…they were mostly harmless. As Saigh and I discussed (and which has come up several times since then), my main gripe with this kind of programming is the message, whether intentional or not, is that not only must every tattoo have a particularly “deep” meaning, but that certain events or situations must be commemorated with a tattoo. Someone dies? Get a tattoo. Your boyfriend leaves you for, I don’t know, a grizzly bear? Get a tattoo. You quit drinking booze, only to have a meteorite fall to earth and lodge itself in your brain? Oh, you better believe that’s a tattoo.

With all that said, A&E just premiered a brand new tattoo reality show, Tattoo Highway starring Thomas Pendleton (formerly of Inked), which we poked a little fun at when it was first announced:

The bus angle worked wonders for Bret Michaels and his skank-banging, so it should really come as no surprise that others are picking up on this as the next big thing. I see big, big things for the future of reality television—big, bus-related things.

[...]

[The network is] shamelessly hyping what is by far the worst part of these tattoos shows—namely, that great tattoos must have some big and important story behind them—but man, how exciting does he think a husband and wife going on a road trip is going to be, vocation notwithstanding? Are they going to be chased by land pirates? Did Dennis Hopper plant a bomb on the bottom of the bus that’ll explode if the speed falls below 50 mph?

Me-ow, right? Well, I decided that if I’m going to be a dick about it, I may as well give the damn thing a shot. We’re a week behind, so let’s get caught up with a good old-fashioned running diary of the premiere! (The third and fourth episodes aired last night, so we’ll try to cover those on the weekend so we’re all on the same page for next week.) Will it be funny? Will we cry? Who knows! We can guarantee one thing, though: Get ready for a whole lot of words.

00:30 — I’m trying to come into this free of expectations and prejudices, but in the 30 seconds it’s taken to go over the introduction to the episode (the series premiere, keep in mind), Thomas has been called a flirt, has been seen cursing out his old high school and told an old man he can mix the man’s wife’s ashes into tattoo ink. A&E! REAL LIFE. DRAMA.

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