Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stop me before I watch more reality television

I didn't mean to watch the Bachelor. I had set the TIVO to record LOST and had it record 30 minutes past just to make sure I got the entire episode. I didn't realize the Bachelor came on right after it. So there I was sitting on the barcalounger too lazy to stop the show after LOST ended and the next thing I know, I'm watching the Bachelor. I mean, it's like a train wreck, you just have to look. And then boom, the recording ended right before the jerk hands out his roses and I freaked. I had to know who he was keeping in the house and who was getting the boot. So I set the TIVO to record the Bachelor.

I'm so ashamed of myself. I mean, Tess and I end up watch a lot of crap like that at her house because she has basic cable and you just don't have a choice. We watch What not to wear and the occasional Fear Factor. It's that or the shopping channels, because basic cable is basic crap. But I have no excuse at my house. I have like 400 channels including every movie channel. And what do I end up watching but the Bachelor.

Though I did have a conversation the other day with a co-worker who confessed she and her husband watched a fascinating documentary the other night about how airlines handle luggage. So I don't feel quite as bad about my viewing choices.

What's really scary is when I find myself watching the Food Channel and realize I'm watching a show about extreme eating establishments where people are challenged to consume things like a 10-pound steak and all the trimmings in a hour and they don't have to pay for it. It's important for these people to avoid paying for that steak because they are going to need that extra money for the triple bypass surgery they are going to need down the line. The real sad thing is that I've seen this same program like five times.

It's kind of like watching the Travel Channel and realizing every week is Las Vegas Week.

So every now and then I try to watch something educational on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel. I was fascinated by the guys running around with metal detectors at the Little Big Horn recreating the battle based on the pattern of the bullets they found. But ultimately, I find history programs that debunk the myths of the past a real downer. The Custer's Last Stand documentary essentially concluded Custer and his men didn't actually stand anywhere. They heroically ran around like chickens with their heads cut off being methodically picked off by the Sioux. Not that I blame the Sioux. Custer just didn't seem to know how to deal with a situation in which the enemy was not a bunch of unarmed, sleeping women and children.
History just isn't pleasant without the Hollywood spin that requires heroes and a happy ending.

But I'm not sure what I'd do without television. I scoff at people who say they never watch it. "What do you do," I ask. "Oh, we read and listen to music," they say. Give me a break. Turn the close-captioning on and you can watch television, read and listen to music.

Television isn't just entertainment anymore. It's a way of life. Even if it is just on in the background while you cook or do dishes, it provides that soothing sense of being connected to the world. If I didn't have television shows to talk about with the woman who cuts my hair, I'd sit there in awkward silence for 40 minutes because the Sopranos, Melrose Place, Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City are our common acquaintances.

Face it, we tend to know more about the lives of the fictional characters in our favorite television programs than we do about our own families. I couldn't tell you boo about my brother's lives other than one is a teacher and one is a born again. But I can sure tell you what Tony Soprano has been up to. For one thing, Tony Soprano's life is pretty darned interesting and I rarely talk to my brothers. When I do we just talk about the superficial things people who don't see each other very often talk about.

But don't get the wrong idea. I love my brothers. They just live in different states and different states of mind than I do.

And as usual, I digress. But all of this talk about my brothers and television has given me a great idea for a reality channel for families. Why don't they create a network where you can tune in and watch your own families lives? Could be an interesting way to stay on top of what they are up to.

Just a thought.

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