|Run's House: The Complete Seasons One & Two (2005)
Starring: Rev. Joseph “Run” Simmons, Justine Simmons, Vanessa Simmons, Angela Simmons, JoJo Simmons, Daniel “Diggy” Simmons, Russell “Russy” Simmons Jr.
Offering the compliment that “Run’s House” is the best reality show on MTV is to damn it with some seriously faint praise. Let’s also provide a bit of clarification: you can watch and readily enjoy “Run’s House” without feeling like it’s some sort of guilty pleasure you shouldn’t admit in public.
At first glance, the concept behind “Run’s House” -- a married rapper with six kids who is also an ordained minister -- sounds like a classic case of recycling. It’s as though MTV was trying to reproduce the success of “The Osbournes” by switching the demographics around. The Osbournes were white, and the Simmons’ are black! That show had three kids, and this show has six kids! Ozzy was the devil, and Run is a man of God! When the phrase “reality sitcom” started being tossed around as a description of the show, you could immediately imagine the network’s publicity department throwing out tag lines describing the series as “‘The Cosby Show’ for the rap generation.” In short, there was little reason for high expectations. What a shock, then, that from the very first episode the show provided such a fun ride that it was hard not to be won over.
Since you already know the deal on Rev. Run, let’s look at the other main characters. Run’s wife, Justine, is a dutiful spouse and loving mother who regularly hounds her husband about one thing or another (most notably, she’s of a mind to have another child). Vanessa is their oldest daughter, sexy as hell and trying to build a modeling career without completely freaking out her father with her layout in “Maxim.” Angela just graduated from high school with a seriously high grade point average, but she’s still trying to get the hang of an internship at Phat Pharm, her uncle Russell’s clothing company. JoJo is the oldest son, and he doesn’t really seem to know what he wants, but he always has a solid smart-ass comment ready and waiting. Diggy’s caught in the middle a lot of times, so when he’s not trying to match JoJo’s mouth, he’s usually trying to kick his little brother’s behind. And, lastly, there’s wee little Russy, who has a mighty big anger management problem -- lord knows how many Gameboys he’s gone through during the course of two seasons. Rev. Run is a good father and husband, but he’s a man who knows what he wants, and it’s rare when he doesn’t get it. Of course, it’s those times when the series tends to be its funniest.
“Run’s House” is a legitimately enjoyable series that manages to work on several levels – as a sitcom, a family drama and a look at the life of a celebrity – and it never manages to wear out its welcome. Occasionally, you do have the feeling that a lot of the goings-on have been planned well in advance, not to mention that Run has spent all day working on some of his ostensibly spontaneous one-liners. But even though you’re aware of it, the overall effect is so enjoyable that you don’t care.Special Features: When all is said and done, there’s an hour’s worth of bonus footage, including interviews, extended scenes, music videos and tours of the various room of the Simmons’ estate. They’re all nice enough to watch, of course, once you’ve fallen for the charm of the series, but the lack of audio commentary from any member of the family is highly disappointing. It’s also a bit annoying that the cases for the individual discs don’t spell out specific clarification of what’s been added; all we have to go on is the general summary of the set’s contents as written on the back of the box.