I have the best of times when I can zap to my heart’s content.
I found out that there are clusters of programs in the US, which makes life a lot easier for novice viewer like me.
For starters, there are the court programs. No, not the Perry Mason kind, but “real judges that deal with real people and real cases”. At least, that’s what they claim. Sure, and I am a real blond.
If you think this has anything to do with justice, forget it.
The judges have “I was a high school nerd and I was bullied a lot” written all over them. In contrast to dating shows, they are way below average looking. I saw a bold, chubby male judge, a round and flat faced male judge with a hairline that started 1 inch above his eyebrows, a dark female judge who kept waving blood red fingernails like daggers around and a senior citizen prune faced, foul mouthed female judge, who must be a direct descendant of Medusa. It seems that there is a negative correlation between an academic degree and looks. (Unless you play a MD on ER, but that is beside the point)
All of these judges share the same characteristics:
a) They will not/ cannot let any of the parties finish a sentence
b) They correct any grammar or style mistake they can find by rudely interrupting the parties
c) They start shouting when parties interrupt them
d) They strive to be as sarcastic as they can be, throwing in some insults as well
e) They are impatient, keep making faces, waving hands and telling parties to hurry up
f) They all have a superiority complex
All of them have to deal with a whole bunch of boring, mundane and run of the mill cases, that normally only assistants would handle.
However, on camera, they deliver their verdicts with the panache of a King Solomon.
I don’t know if these verdicts are final, but I would strongly recommend all parties involved to appeal by default. Unless this is the norm in the US courts. Then emigrate.
A second group of programs are dating shows. There are heaps of them.
Like everyone else on this planet who did not get married at 18 and has been living in eternal bliss in crime-free, clean and pleasant American Suburbia ever since, I can relate to these. All you fellow (ex) blind-daters know what I am talking about. If you don’t, you are (1) a member of the clergy or (2) need a life –immediately before you turn into Jack the Ripper.
Anyway, these programs range from the Barbie style romantic to the kinky bizarre. (Don’t get me wrong, to each his/her own, even though I am not in favor of one or the other).
On one end of the scale, we have the Barbie Dream. Bachelor/Bachelorette/Millionaire looking for love. Now, I ask you, if you are a drop-dead gorgeous hunk of a guy, with a six figure income and no rap sheet to speak of - why the hack should you go on international TV to date a whole bunch of bimbos with the aim of marrying one?! Do yourself a favor, follow the George Clooney example and stay single until you are in your 40s, or 50s…
Date them and dump them in private, that’s my advice. And make sure they cannot sue you for breach of promise or palimony or some other American invention….
At the other end of the scale are the really sleazy ones (yummy!). No pretense of happy endings, more along the lines of “yes, you can even stay for breakfast before I kick you out”.
My favorite is a sort of “two is company, three is a crowd”. Two guys are going out with three girls. The girls are typecast as : a nice girl (yes, she even claims to be a virgin), a wild one (yes, she claims to be naughty but nice) and a really, really slutty one (yes, the “let’s take no prisoners” kind). Guess what? The nice virgin looses each time. Don’t try to find a moral here.
The best part of the program is the pop-up feature. Delicious and vicious comments, but so funny. Gives you a Jerry Springer feeling.
That brings me to the next cluster of programs, talk shows.
The US must be the Birth Nation of the talk shows. Somehow, it seems to be a life ambition of a lot of celebrities to have their own talk show. I really do not understand why. Being an actor, or the wife of a hard rock musician, does not train you to be a talk show host. There are only a few that have a natural flair for it. Oprah (holier than thou) is a good example. Built a whole empire with it. Not my taste, but good for her.
Jerry Springer is also good. Being a scandal-ridden politician honed his skills. (You think what I think….Tonight with Clinton Show?) I think that Springer’s show was entertaining, cannot be sure though, since I could only get one out of ten words. The other nine were 1) beeped out, or 2) in such a strong local accent that I did not understand even one syllable. The fact that most of his guests did not have teeth did not help. I am not sure if this was already the case before they came to the studio or the result of all the on-camera fighting. Yes, the one of the fisticuffs and furniture smashing kind.
Ricky Lake is another one that did well. Did not see her for some time now. I loved the way she would look permanently surprised. I may know why. I think that they tricked her into believing that it was part of a movie, and the surprised look came from her not being able to follow the script (or the plot). Well, her guests were also in a constant state of bewilderment – most of the time about their love lives and sexuality. Since these two are related, I can understand the confusion. Lots of female guests with hair constructed like the Eiffel Tower, waving around French manicured hands and calling each other “girlfriend”. Funny, if I would tell my Mum I had a girlfriend, she would worry…..really worry…..
And then there are the shopping channels. They fascinate me. Since I am an anti-shopper (shoppephobic?), I love to check out the useless, overprized junk they try to sell to the innocent masses….
The main product lines are : jewelry, clothes, beauty product and fitness.
For all you out-of-touch persons, fitness is an outdated term, and is now replaced with “wellness”. No connection to any wishing well, although you are throwing your money down a bottomless pit.
Wellness products also cover all kinds of massage items. All of them are a) expensive b) take up lots of space c) will only be used 5 times tops d) promise fat burning and muscle building without any efforts.
Now do yourself a favor, go to a fitness center, hire a personal trainer (about $ 50 per hour) and work your fat body parts off. Or go for a long weekend with your lover to the Virgin Islands. Same money, same result and lots more fun. Trust me.
Lets move to murder mysteries (or lack of it). Don’t try to find any recent or decent murder mysteries such as “Murder, she wrote” like who-done-its. Reality TV truck again in this genre, and the closest thing on TV nowadays is “Tru Calling” and the “CSI” franchise.
Tru Calling has no connection to any vocation (Catholic or otherwise), but is about a ditzy chick (Tru) with wavy long brown hair who keeps being grabbed by stiffs (yes, of the really dead people variety). These stiffs open their eyes, stare at our Tru and say “heeeelllpppp meeeeeee” in a gothic voice. Being not a very practical kind of girl, she does. She starts running around flipping her long brown hair. (Clairol, give the girl a sponsorship). She keeps having flashbacks, repeatedly lives through the same day (my idea of hell) and keeps changing it until the stiff finally stays alive. Go figure.
Now, I have to tell this Tru person the following. Stop touching dead people. It is not nice. You never know what they did before they kicked the bucket. You are also approaching the fine line between being really weird and committing necrophilia. You should get a restraining order from all stiffs and morgues; you should go to university and get yourself a degree and a nice career. The one where you have living colleagues. (Although, if you choose high-tech, some of them might be brain dead, but they are still breathing and warming their seat). And if you go into med school, you could even hook up with a nice follow doctor. THAT would make you mother proud, especially if she is Jewish.
CSI is a different cattle of (dead) fish. It reconstructs crimes based on forensic evidence. That was considered a dead bore when I was in university. Funny how all these nerdy professions become sexy.
Anyway, on CSI all of these extremely good-looking professionals are brilliant and well dressed, even in the direst circumstances. They are all career minded, but remain Compassionate. Go figure. Reality-show Hollywood Style. Every stiff they find is interesting, and had an exciting time (24 hours or so) before they died. They all have dark secrets that they wanted to hide. Even simple car accidents turn out to be complicated murder plots. Not that I am complaining, mind you. But don’t you think that it is rather bizarre that that even dead people on TV have a more exiting life than you and I have? And won’t you love to work in a place with flexible office hours, nice clothes, even nicer company cars and a hunky boss who begs you to take time off to relax and have a café latte outside of the office? And I bet that they make more money than I do…. both on and off screen…. Come to think of that’s not such a miracle.
Last but not least, my favorite: SF!
Yes, a whole channel is dedicated to this genre. Many, many episodes of “creepy evil aliens attack defeated by brave human crew that sticks together through thick and thin”. Not much of a moral in most of them: beauty defeats ugly, good conquers evil.
Still, since I became a faithful fan at the age of 8 (thanks to Mr. Spock), I am addicted to it. Enterprise, Galactica, X-files, Andromeda, Twilight Zone, you name it!
Tell me, what was the last time you secretly thought “beam me up, Scotty” during an extremely boring meeting? Mmmmm?!
Like I said, I love television!