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MTV: Guilty-pleasure wasteland or socially redeeming network? Or both?

MTV has a split-personality problem. When I turn it on, I never know which network I’m going to get: The sweet, socially conscious one that has brought me True Life, 16 and Pregnant, and those news specials Gideon Yago used to do? Or the bastion of vapidness known for The Hills, Jersey Shore, and hours of bafflingly watchable Spring Break coverage? Its new docu-series, The Buried Life – which premieres Jan. 18 – may just be the perfect blend of both. In it, four adorable, well-intentioned young guys travel across the country in a bus aiming to cross off stuff on their Bucket Lists; and for each one they do, they also help a stranger cross off one item on his or her own. I loved the life-affirming concept as soon as I heard it – especially as 2009 continues to kick our collective national ass. And having watched the first episode, I can attest that it is both endearing (the boys buy a computer for a needy school) and mischievous (the boys work out an elaborate plan to sneak into the Playboy Mansion, complete with a giant cake, oompa-loompa costumes, and an impersonation of soccer star Christiano Ronaldo). Of course, I doubt it will assault pop culture on the same level as Jersey Shore, since its unlikely to incite protests, scare advertisers, or inspire clever web applications. My question: Will you watch anyway? Please?

Originally posted December 17 2009 — 5:48 PM EST

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