Friday, June 22, 2007

Random bullets of crappy tv

So, I'm in the lovely little town of Ultimate Suburbia, doin' nuttin'. My parents' hobbies include eating lunch, crabbing about the way the world is, and eating dinner. And also fighting over where they should eat lunch or dinner. Should we go to the Chili's or the Applebees? The Olive Garden or the Elephant Bar? The Tony Roma's that used to be the Outback Steakhouse that's right across the street from the Chevy's that used to be the El Torito? You can see there's so much to do here; the town has so much character. And, being retired, my parents tend to wake up with the birds and want lunch at 11 am, dinner at 5, and they were in bed by 9. Lovely.

However, I had lunch with my sister and got to see a small portion of her latest home remodeling disaster special project underway, which involves staining, varnishing and installing some fancy doors with trim. Do you know how easy it is to saw through stuff underneath your projects if you place it on the floor or carpet? Heh.

The nicest part of visiting family is recharging the thinking parts of my brain by doing completely mindless fun stuff. I mean, seeing family is fine and all, but the real lure is the television. For some reason I can't even get the free network channels at my grad school apartment, and I don't want to pay for cable and the internet (think of the procrastination! The money! ---- Yay! ---- No, stop that!) It's weird to go from tv abstinence to complete bingeing ---- hello, commercials! Hello, crappy gender conventions and cheesy materialism! I forget sometimes I'm in a protected little bubble so it's great to be reminded by home cleaner commercials with stay-at-home moms indulgently smiling on naughty, messy little boys they need to clean up after while clean docile little girls follow after the moms and learn how to scrub and tidy. So with one day of basking in the mindlessness, so far, I have noticed the following:
  • My secret vice would be all those fixit-remodel-DIY-home/face/body makeover shows. I don't know if that means I will become one of those obnoxious home-obsessed remodelers when I finally have a job and spare money, or, that, like the health-and-fitness shows I watch, it means I only want to experience these things secondhand. (Watch triathalons for hours? Fine. Actually get up off the couch? You've got to be kidding.) The fact that I have bought nice pots for outside my front door, but killed off several generations of the plants in them, indicates I might vacillate between the two positions crazily.
  • Baby animals are cute, but can you actually watch an entire show of them being rescued, even while channel surfing? Even with only limited tv access I find the format too predictable. I think over at Acephalous Scott said a similar thing about science shows. My mom has a weakness for all the "secrets of the Bible revealed!" type shows; even though they promise that mysteries will be revealed or debunked, they end up telling you obvious nuggets of common wisdom.
  • I haven't seen a new episode of The Simpsons for years; even when I had tv reception last year I only watched the weekday reruns while cooking dinner. I just saw a "current" episode and it made me throw up in my mouth a little. Oh, talent and funniness, where have you gone? Couldn't you go out with a bang, like a rock star snuffed out in mid-fame and glory, rather than hanging around to become a coked-out tired caricature of yourself?
  • Speaking of, I see that they are trying to capitalize on the success of the Ozzy Osbourne reality show by doing one on Gene Simmons of Kiss. Gene, Gene, see above bullet.
  • Evidently it is not enough to bring back 70s fashion and the nasty home decor accents that my mom is unearthing from closets with the triumphant exclamation that orange shag or dark wood furniture is back; I flipped past more than one episode each of: The Jeffersons, Dukes of Hazard, Little House on the Prarie, and Good Times. Clocking in at one episode each so far would be The Brady Bunch and The Andy Griffith Show. And these weren't the cable networks or RetroTVLand or whatever, either. I wonder what this does to the circulation of cultural values and gender attitudes; just think, we might have to not only deal with the assumptions fostered by contemporary pop culture but the "rerun effect" in our teaching.
  • I see that the same city council meeting as the last time I was here still appears to be in progress, according to the public access station. The local community college is still presenting student-acted and directed shows and shorts, which are often, in their sheer zaniness, the best thing on the tube at any one time.
  • Forget driving a three-ton-extendicab-megatruck with heated seats to prove how big your dick is. That's so last year. Now you need to be driving a backhoe --- as you dig and install your own Forever Illusion pool yourself. Oh wait --- no, that's the contractor waggling his backhoe around back there for you. You'll just have to make do with the size of the Forever Illusion you buy, so get a doozy.
  • Even with no regular access to a tv for almost a year now, I can still i.d. the Law and Order episode and its killer within about five minutes of tuning in.

I could do a whole series of bullets about What Not to Wear, which I am deeply ambivalent about, and the whole "makeover" phenomenon besides, so I may, if you're good, devote an entire post to the subject later. Just get me a set of those snap-together tupperware containers and send me three easy payments of only $19.95...


squadratomagico said...

oh god -- What not to wear! Ugh!

Let me say: I like makeover shows. But this one often is horrible! It's a Stepford makeover! About 30% of the time, they find someone who really needs help, but 70% of the time, the formula is:
-Find someone with offbeat style.
-Exclaim over how her hip, eccentric look is "too young," "too unprofessional" or "too thrifted."
-Tell her what kind of jacket she must wear.
-Force her to buy said type of jacket at a mass-market chain store found in every mall in the US, even though she is shopping in NYC, home of thousands of interesting small boutiques.
-Send her to a haircutter who will decide on a hairstyle for her, with minimal input from the "client."
-Send her to a makeup artist who exclaims over how she can get a "great, natural look" in five minutes flat, then proceeds to add twenty products to her face.
-Reintroduce Stepford Woman to family, to great acclaim.

SEK said...

Which What Not to Wear? The British show has the advantages of being, well, British. My other admission: TiVoing Cosby Shows to watch while we eat. Wholesome, yes, but surprisingly (and charmingly) naughty at times. It's amazing what Cosby got away with because of, I'm not sure, Jello?

Eddie said...

Kudos to you for not having cable! I tried that once and only lasted about a month. Btw, I love What Not To Wear (American version). :-)

Sisyphus said...

Hmm, I both love and hate the American What Not to Wear show. For all the reasons listed above. Maybe I _should_ do a post.

Scott I cut my teeth (well, no, not literally) on the Cosby records so it is with sadness that I watch him selling Jello or mugging on the Kids say the darndest things show ... or watch him harangue the black community like an old curmudgeon. BTW after The Cosby Show he had a more progressive show, probably completely unwatched bc of that and its slightly more preachy tone.

In other news, _The Aviator_ was actually quite good. Cate Blanchett did a virtuoso turn, marred only slightly by the fact that I was always conscious of her doing said virtuoso turn.