Oh, Despicable Them
There isn’t much to watch on television these days, despite hundreds of channels and a show for just about every lifestyle. It all just seems to funnel down into the same hole, with the same empty brain calories and de-moralizing values. So it’s still summer then, despite the constant alluring commercials for fall programs.
Here’s a cross-selection of Monday night’s Labor Day programming:
WMLW – The Dr. Oz Show. Oprah meets Maury meets health show. Informative, but scholcky at times due to the commercial interstitials.
ABC – Bachelor Pad. The worst parts of The Bachelor meet the best parts of the modern version of MTV’s Real World. Most of the episode I saw took place in a hot tub and in the dark of a conjugal bed, with characters discussing morals and life decisions like no one’s ever made one before.
E! – Keeping up with the Kardashians. ‘Nuff Said.
WE – Golden Girls. This is all that is ever on this channel, I swear. Go ahead, turn it on right now.
USA – WWE Monday Night Raw, with more sequins than a Vegas show and more fake drama than a soap opera.
HISTORY – American Pickers. Hoarders meets Antiques Roadshow, where dealers go out to backwoods sheds and pay a lot of money for junk foisted as quaint country for city folks.
TLC – Kate plus Eight. I can just head to my local Walmart if I want to watch someone yell at kids in public.
A&E – Hoarders. I get queasy watching this show. One documentary might have been enough to expose this American pyschiatric condition, but a whole series is just crushing.
TruTV – Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock. I have no idea what I’m watching, but it can’t be good. It seemed like mostly low-culture bikini parties, camera-hogging, and bad decisions without appropriate follow-up by the show’s creators.
VH1 – Money Hungry. At this point, VH1 no longer plays music videos but has taken the cue from MTV and runs low-rent original reality shows 24/7. This show appears to be a filmic styling of Top Chef and Project Runway, with challenges similar to Survivor and the Amazing Race, featuring overweight people from Biggest Loser that scheme and backstab like they are on Flavor of Love.
MTV – Jersey Shore. The official show of Deep-Fried Romantic. This doesn’t mean I watch it, but it seems the epitome of equal parts shame and praise for the Garden State representatives. It’s currently on marathon.
Disney Channel – Camp Rock 2. My, how far we’ve come from Beach Blanket movies in style and substance.
Lifetime Movie Network – the movie “Hush” featuring Tori Spelling.
BRAVO – The Real Housewives of New Jersey. It’s a wrap-up reunion show, which nowadays happens practically before the show can even premiere.
And that’s just what’s on the basic channels, which is what most people are watching if they don’t get premium original programs like True Blood.
It would be depressing enough if these shows were in the minority and did not have a significant affect on the nation’s psyche and moral compass. I dare you to go to work the day after a night of shows like this and not hear a reference. Each episode of any of the above series is heavily edited for content and egregiously manipulated to elicit a certain emotional response, whether that be pity, disgust or a sense of superiority. Or maybe all of the above. And yet, these are some of the highest rated programs on television, and their “stars” are plastered on the covers of supermarket tabloids, fashion rags and lifestyle magazines. Hell, Snooki is banking over $10k per episode.
It’s kind of like the general response to the mistreatment of animals before they become fast food products. Everyone is told that it is horrible to be a chicken at one of these farms,and after discovering such ghastly information, they want to do something about it. But then a box of chicken nuggets is waved under their noses, and Jane/Joe Public cannot help but take a bite of the processed, fried and salted “food” dipped in a corn syrup sauce.
Watching these shows (or what I could stand to watch) is just like eating McNuggets — somehow, we can’t seem to get enough.