When the reality TV craze started a few years back, no one could have expected that former metal icon Ozzy Osbourne would usurp the almighty Jeff Probst’s status as the genre’s cultural idol. Even less likely, when “The Osbournes” debuted last spring on MTV, who would have guessed that it would become the unavoidable cultural phenomenon that it did, becoming the channel’s most popular show in its 20-year history while simultaneously spawning its own sub-genre of television?

Paul Wong
Courtesy of MTV
The Osbournes look to be their usual happy selves.

The Osbournes have been a busy bunch since the end of the first season, winning Emmys in between visits to the White House and Buckingham Palace. And while we can’t blame the Osbournes for “The Anna Nicole Show,” Kelly Osbourne’s excruciatingly ornate attempt to pervade the music industry can only be attributed to the massive success of the show’s first season. There is a glimpse of this on tonight’s second season premiere, as Kelly masquerades at the MTV Movie Awards, infecting those present with her noxious cover of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.”

But it’s not only Kelly who is off exploring new things, as everyone has taken on a side-project of sorts. Jack, of course, continues to double part-time as a talent scout for Epic Records, as any normal teenager would. Matriarch Sharon has taken on a far more daunting task: Diagnosed with colon cancer last summer, this season will take us through the ups and downs of her fight, covering her radiation treatments and all. Meanwhile, Sharon’s battle has thrown Ozzy back off the wagon. While whining about continuing his cross-country Ozzfest jaunt, Ozzy tries to drown his sorrow over his soul mate’s cancer by hitting the bottle again.

Additionally, in a move of all-too-convenient irony, or a gesture of goodwill, depending on how you look at it, the family adopted another “main character,” Kelly’s friend Robert Marcato, after his mother passed away from cancer.

Despite all these negative circumstances, and Sharon’s recent claim on “20/20” that this season would be the last, the Osbournes are contractually obligated for two more, and the show will continue for at least that.

It’s obvious that the show won’t be the same as before – it can’t be, given the family’s propulsion to massive pop-culture celebrity status – because all the simplicity is lost with their awareness of this newfound celebrity.

Most of the family’s escapades could have been followed this past summer by simply keeping up with the daily entertainment gossip, but all the fun lies in bemusing in their asinine exploits. Watching their effortless everyday interaction is what made “The Osbournes” so special in the first place.

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