Young, Broke & Beautiful (debuting June 24) plays like an odd hybrid of those cable reality shows best saved for long airplane flights: its jerky cinematography and self-satisfaction bring back memories of MTV Cribs, its title seems fit for an Oxygen drama, and it strives for the attitude of other irreverent travel shows like Insomniac
with Dave Attel.
IFC’s new travel show chases writer Stuart Schuffman, a.k.a. “Broke-Ass Stuart,” around American cities (first up: San Diego; the episode provided for review was New Orleans; and future shows focus on Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, and Memphis) as he decrees certain things “broke-ass” ($32 swamp airboat-rides) and others “totally not” broke-ass (a $10,000 Jaguar pelt in a vintage shop). There isn’t a scene which doesn’t see Broke-Ass Stuart (a sometimes local who penned cult favorite Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco, among others) branding a spot with some variation on the term “authentic local hangout,” and then promptly tagging a wall, bus pole, or even child’s face with his signature Young, Broke & Beautiful bumper sticker.
If you can get past the fingerless gloves and those moments when our host points at the camera and yells something about being a “bad mamajama,” his show does yield some interesting moments with city-dwellers that fulfill YBB’s mission statement of “uncovering hidden, cheap and carefully guarded gems." It’s amusing to watch Broke-Ass Stuart roll up for drive-through daiquiris and then stop for a brief interview with New Orleans musicians Irma Thomas and George Porter, Jr. These conversations are the highlights of the show, though they’re packed so tightly together that none last longer than a few minutes.
Young, Broke & Beautiful is a whirlwind with a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach. As the credits roll and Broke-Ass Stuart is safely plain-old Stuart Schuffman again, it's hard to ignore the feeling that a good number of the haunts showcased were worth vicarious attendance.
Young, Broke & Beautiful (pegged by its network as "a travel show for explorers and wanderers with a desire to celebrate everything weird and unique") premieres Friday, June 24 at 11 p.m. on IFC.