First, let me explain that we do not have cable TV. What we do have are rabbit ears perched on top of the TV, and if we’re lucky three PBS stations come in loud and clear. And that’s actually okay with me because unless it has a British accent and a corset, I generally don’t watch it.
But I’ve discovered something - the dark, hard underbelly of American culture. It looks like this:
It was on another Jet Blue flight that I saw on television for the first time, a group of women who were overly made up, coiffed to the heavens and swearing like troopers in a restaurant. A fight broke out. A crazy lady turned over a table. People scattered. Children were wide-eyed. People were poised to punch others. Oh yes, I had discovered The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Fast forward a year. Those same painted faces kept appearing on magazine covers. Stories of bankruptcy, sex changes, cocaine busts made up the headlines. More housewives shows littered the airwaves but alas, they too were outside my rabbit ear perimeter.
But then I found hulu. And on it, the antidote for sitting at my desk, hunched over, and turning out important prose on world class issues all day, every day. Now I could sit back, feet on desk, arms behind sore neck and enjoy an hour of world class TV after dinner.
I found that with a few key strokes, I can watch short snippets of the RHONJ (see? I’ve even got the lingo down). Two, three minutes tops. I can peek inside the fabulous kitchens. Glance at the obscene closets. Get a gander at the diamonds and Range Rovers. Not to mention feel Melissa's pain as she tries to be a part of the family, or Caroline as her boys (finally) grow up enough to leave home.
“Wow, did she put on weight since Season One,” I’ll say to my cat. "And her, so skinny. Not good."
“The clothes and jewels! How can they afford that?” Buggy might have said back if she was as nuts as me.”
Problem is, Theresa can’t afford the life style and I'm a little worried. She’s supposedly bankrupt, $11 million in the hole, but that doesn’t stop her from being mean to Kathy, who I don’t think deserves it at all. After all, she tried to be nice at Melissa’s party, but then Caroline did nothing to help and Jacqueline just keeps defending her. But after the way her spoiled daughter talked back to her, I cannot judge.
And there I go, down the cultural rabbit hole that is America today. I didn’t realize it but Doc Martin isn’t “where it’s at.” Our culture, at least on the telly, is all about people calling each other filthy names, about discussing their private parts with crass terms, about spending thousands of dollars (that they don’t have) in minutes in stores. It’s about back stabbing and retribution and conspicuous consumption and hatred.
Yes, all fiction needs conflict the way fire needs oxygen. There needs to be a point of no return in Act II and the penultimate chapter where all hell breaks loose (like that christening party! OMG!!)
But this isn’t fiction. Or is it? These are real people who have never left 7th grade, all the while complaining to the camera, “She needs to get over herself. It’s just like she’s still in Junior High!”
No wonder we’re in trouble, people. The party is on 24 hours a day. It’s a never ending light and sound show of spending, swearing, swaggering, and conniving.
No wonder people love Sarah Palin! Either she is the “rill dill” or she’s as stupid, vindictive, and dysfunctional as the other real housewives scattered across our great nation.
I know I’m late to the party, so bear with me. I’m still trying to figure out how to watch an entire episode on hulu, but that might not be such a great idea after all. Besides, I’ve discovered one other freak show that I’ll write about another time.
Listen, I know there are these shows where people live on an island or something. And chefs scream at students and the guy with the orange comb-over fires people. But I’ve never watched one.
Now I’ve seen the light. And I think Theresa is a nut job who needs to get over her brother and stop making trouble with Melissa because she is adorable and I hope her singing career takes off and Kathy should really bake professionally because she’s nice and her desserts look great. And I’m sorry her daughter had a brain tumor. But Kim G. also had a brain tumor and they threw her out of the party. And that wasn’t very nice.
Okay, that’s my confession. Don’t make me look like a complete ass. What’s yours?