Saturday, September 18, 2010
My TV reality
I invited 20 complete strangers into my home on Wednesday. Some are surly, some are stupid, and all of them stink.
They will inhabit our home and insinuate themselves into our consciousness for the next three months. I’ll find out which ones are divorced, gay, have bowel problems and which ones are so carefree about their grooming that they think nothing of letting their toenails grow long and sharp enough to spear rabid armadillo.
Yes, “Survivor” is on CBS again and again my life has meaning.
Our 10-year-old daughter is the same age as the popular reality show -- and please let’s not demean fatherhood or TV viewership by giving me some Sophie’s Choice -- Josie or Jeff Probst.
There’s room in my heart for both.
My wife delivered Josie during the September week when the first season was in frenzied nightly re-runs to capitalize on the blockbuster success of TV’s first and still finest reality show.
Against her will, I forced my wiped out wife to watch as she lay in the hospital bed breast-feeding a baby so new we’d yet to name her. Val protested, but was too weak to reach the remote. She said she was sure she wouldn’t like it. It would be boring. It would ruin our lives.
She’d said the same thing about motherhood.
Ten years later, she’ll concede she was wrong both times.
She loves “Survivor” and she loves being a mom.
Me, there are days when surviving the perils of fatherhood make me want to vote myself off the family island.
Mostly, it comes down to TV. I just don’t get enough of it.
We tell our children that commercial television is evil. It’s boring. It kills braincells. It turns us all into vapid morons easily manipulated by the most base influences of soulless consumerism.
Yeah, right. We also tell them supportive fables to convince them of the Tooth Fairy’s existence.
In truth, I love TV. If I could I’d watch it round the clock.
I’d watch old movies, documentaries, mindless sitcoms, political shoutfests -- you name it.
Yet the rules we impose on our children we must impose on ourselves.
Because we don’t won’t let the kids watch too much TV, we can’t be hypocritical and watch too much ourselves.
It goes against my every instinct.
That’s why I so revel in any rare home alone time. So does Val.
I remember my mother watched the kids for one slim night last year. Val and I went to a great music festival, but left early so we could, ahh, watch adult TV.
Sure, we did all the other things loving couples do when they have time alone, but I guarantee the TV time meant more to my wife than any of our randy antics.
And that’s certainly no reflection on my romantic skills, she swears.
C’mon, how could it be?
Even so, how could I compare with guys like Tony Soprano and vampires Bill and Eric from the “True Blood” town of Bon Temps?
If we watch shows like that now, we have to wait until the kids are sound asleep. In order to watch shows about vampires we have to live like them.
So the programs that dominate our viewing are children’s movies and Disney Network shows sickly sweet enough to cause cancer in lab rats.
I need to hear someone other than myself spewing profanity.
So last night I snuck down to the basement to watch the 2007 Simon Pegg movie “Hot Fuzz,” maybe the funniest movie ever made. Ever. I mean it. Top critics give it a cumulative 91 percent on www.rottentomatoes.com
I’ve watched it 50 times and it gets funnier each time. If I watched it once a week my mood would improve. But Josie came down and busted me with, “How come it’s okay for you to watch something over and over and over and you yell at me for watching Hannah Montana once or twice?”
She’s right and now I’m thinking about constructing a basement below the basement.
At least “Survivor” is back after a 3-month hiatus. It’s the show we all can watch together. And I do love it. There’s no one in America better at their job than Jeff Probst is at his. The man’s a reality show genius.
But that’s one night a week.
Take this weekend. I’d love to do nothing but sit on my can and watch about 20 hours of college and professional football. All my friends will.
Alas, I cannot. I know the female outcry would be too great.
The tribe has spoken.
And they’ve told me to just sit there and shut the hell up.
Tweet of the week at http://twitter.com/8Days2Amish: “Anytime you hear of someone dying suddenly it should reinforce the need to ensure you're always living suddenly.”