I have a love-hate relationship with television. I watch more TV than is really necessary (is any of it actually necessary?), and, yet, at the same time, I constantly feel like my intelligence is being insulted. Just when you think we can't stoop any further, television takes us to a new low . . . and I'm there every step of the way. I've mentioned several times my confusion with the content of commercials (see here, here, and here), but this goes beyond that. This goes to the full-length programs that network executives continue to greenlight. I do have my standards, of course (no Jersey Shore for me, I swear), but they're quite Lilliputian (I had to throw that word in so at least you wouldn't forget that I'm well-read. Trust me, after this, your respect for me will wane).
The people in TV land, I think, are constantly trying to figure out just how low they can set the bar and then continue to limbo beneath it. There are the histrionics of Jeff Lewis on "Flipping Out." Have you seen this one? He's a "house flipper" who does these projects to improve homes and then sells them. He has a long-suffering staff who must put up with his obsessive-compulsion. Entertaining, sure. Tragic, absolutely. And his business is booming . . . he even has his own line of home products on QVC (you know you've arrived when you are hocking stuff on QVC). But it's not just reality television. Take for instance "Minute to Win It," hosted by perpetual douchebag and sometimes tv cook, Guy Fieri. I have not actually watched this show, though from what I can tell, it consists of people doing bar tricks on TV in an attempt to win money. And it's on for an hour during prime time. There's also "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," which pits "ordinary adults" against eleven-year-olds. For goodness sake, even the host isn't smarter than a fifth grader. If ever there was an argument that the U.S. education system is doing better now than it did years ago, it's this show. Someone get Arne Duncan on the phone . . .
Besides the game shows, there is the misogynism of "Two and a Half Men" -- which boasts the highest paid actor on television, Charlie Sheen (an habitual frequenter of rehab and prostitutes) -- where two single brothers live together with the one brother's young son. The women on the show are set dressings, playing one of three parts: the shrew, the bimbo, or the mother (and to tell the truth, the several mother figures on the show may as well be shrews, too).
What sparked this train of thought was tonight's premiere of The Bachelor. For the uninitiated, this is a show where some allegedly desirable single gentleman (and I use that word loosely) lives in a suspended reality with 20-some-odd women to choose from. The women, hell bent on destroying the feminism that our foremothers spent many years trying to achieve, fall all over The Bachelor in bikinis, in a hot air ballon, during safari, rapelling off the side of a volcano, on a jet ski, etc. And I must watch it. Every week. For two hours.
Sure, there's some good stuff on television, but I'm going to have to talk about that another time, because it's time for The Bachelor to start.