Thursday, July 8, 2010


I watch horrible TV. So let’s just acknowledge that nothing that I am about to write is going to be written from the haughty perspective of someone who is really getting into Breaking Bad or someone who has written a thesis about the socioeconomic moirés of The Wire. I would probably watch America’s Farthest Poo Flingers if they showed it. That’s only a slight exaggeration.

I get that television can be a perfectly respectable and wonderfully artistic medium and all that jazz. For me, television is the glowing thing that is on in the background when I clean house or write a column. It’s the thing that gives me recipe ideas, tells me what the weather is going to be like or brings me the new episode of Top Gear. It just isn’t a medium in which I put tremendous faith or importance. I like it but it’s pretty dumb.

And this is why I feel like I am missing an important strand of DNA which most of my fellow humans possess. Each time I hear or read someone who genuinely expresses some sort of concern, anger or really any actual opinion on the situation between Jake and Vienna of Bachelor fame, a tiny little corner of my mind is blown. Now I’m not talking about people that I know who watch the show for the sheer absurdity that it dishes out.

I’m talking about people who have taken this show as a real-life soap opera. They’ve assumed that the fiendish pilot Jake has woefully mistreated his bride-to-be Vienna. Because the TV told them so. And it’s reality TV so it REALLY HAPPENED (apparently)! There’s no shame in getting wrapped up in these shows like a housewife gets wrapped up in General Hospital. But it baffles my mind that people are allowing the tag of reality TV to supersede things like, you know, facts.

The fact that none of these people actually, um, get married might be your first red flag. But there’s no reason to be bitter about it. And I’m not. You or I would do it. Go on a show, go on fake dates, get real alcohol, get some fake action or maybe some real action. Get roses or maybe a ring. Show up in public places. Do photo shoots. Develop plots and follow them accordingly. I’d even play the villain role. The whorish woman who ran off and broke the Bachelor’s heart and left him at the chapel. He’ll be in tears in the reunion special. He’ll come back for Bachelor 38: This Time It’s Love and I’ll go on Celebrity Apprentice as the assertive bitch character who makes Weird Al cry. All the time, we’re both cashing checks and the cycle continues.

And the only part of this that confuses me is why we don’t just acknowledge that it’s all, to a huge degree, a set up and that’s ok? Is it because Bachelor viewers can feel intellectually superior to frumpy stay at home moms in their stained sweatpants who watch soaps because when they watch their shows, the performers use their real names and not character names? So there’s still an outside chance that it’s all real? Is it because people who watch the Bachelor so desperately want romance novels to come to fruition that they’re willing to suspend all logic just to watch sunset beach picnics and balcony serenades actually happen? Is it the feminine equivalent of professional wrestling wherein we want an obvious villain to boo and hiss and at which to vent all our pent up anger? They need Jake the Jerk to be their Iron Sheik, so to speak.

Now what’s the big deal about some dumb TV show and so what if some people get really into it? Really, not that much in an isolated setting. Except I think the ever increasing erosion of what fame and reality has brought us to the point where, when reality actually happens it causes intense vertigo. The plane starts to dive, the shaker stick starts to shimmy violently and the next sound you hear on the black box recorder is the ground proximity warning alarm. And if I’m talking about a plane crash, I am of course referring to Lindsay Lohan.

When reality television can make it so easy to fool the public, it can also enable someone in the public eye who has severe issues with narcotic abuse, obviously shitty parents, a tremendous sense of entitlement and a history of pathological lying and self-delusion. So when they crash their car into bushes while drunk and coked up, abandon the car, lie about that, get arrested, bail out, hijack a car with two occupants held against their will while again drunk and high on cocaine, blow through red lights while chasing another car, lie again, refuse to adhere to the terms of probation which was mercifully offered to her, leave the country on the eve of a court date, fitted with a SCRAM bracelet yet continue to drink then show up to court to face all these charges with “fuck u” written on her middle finger….there’s still a sense that in this reality show world that things will just work out.

Surely there’s an edit that can be made. Surely there’s a rewrite that can be done. Can’t her part be recast? Even with her 90 day jail sentence ending up being only 23 days, can’t that shoot be rescheduled? Can’t it be done on green screen back in LA on the Paramount lot?

If that doesn’t work, try the Amnesty International Manic Tweeting Route of comparing your much-needed three weeks in LA County jail followed by even more sorely-needed rehab to International treaty on torture and legislation dealing with federal crimes, of which you are not charged. Sometimes reality is best not dealt with until absolutely necessary.

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