Monday, April 26, 2010

break my heart!

I'm going to pretend I didn't hear my future husband Jet talking about his wife and 17-month-old daughter on The Amazing Race last night.  I'd appreciate it if you'd all help me continue to live in my state of denial.

Anyway, WOAH.  Holy good episode.  The teams headed off to Shanghai and had to do a series of non-physical but incredibly difficult tasks.  Between noodle-making and dressing models at the fashion house and putting together a huge puzzle at the football was an intense leg.  And I'm happy to say that for the first time ever watching The Amazing Race I didn't pick up on it being a non-elimination leg until Phil told the detectives that they weren't going home just yet.  Nice work.  I can't remember having a non-elimination leg this late in the game before?

And of course my wonderful cowboys came in first.  But let's talk strategy for a minute.  Brent and Caite, aka "the models", aka Miss Teen South Carolina and her doofy boyfriend, made a big deal about U-Turning Brandy and Carol (sending them back to complete an extra task) last week because one time Carol said something disparaging about Caite being a dumb beauty queen.  Brandy and Carol were eliminated as a result of that decision.

Okay, fine, take out your seventh grade aggressions, but that decision didn't help the models at all this week.  At.  All.  I say this with a heart full of love for the cowboys, but what kind of idiots do you have to be to not knock out the team that's placed first four times now?  And instead take out a team that hadn't placed first once?  On a reality show where you hardly ever see the other contestants, let alone talk to them?  I mean, they can take offense to people thinking she's a dumb beauty queen, but, um, you kind of are.  Hello.  Strategy is not about feelings.  I'm really hoping the detectives can make a comeback next week and send those dumb bunnies back on the stupid ship from whence they came.

I've barely been home at all lately, which leaves little time for things like cleaning and feeding my cat, let alone watching reality TV and writing about it.  I have a whole two and a half hours of 16 and Pregnant to watch!  Sacrilege!

Also: Bret Michaels?  Get better soon, dude.  Seriously.  For all his making-out-with-Playmates on VH1-ness, he seems like a genuinely good guy who loves what he does, and he has two little girls at home, plus people like me who won't be satisfied until I've met all the members of the Bret Michaels Band after a show at a casino.  Right now the only one I'm missing is Bret, so, you know, buddy, you need to get out of the hospital and make that happen for me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dang it, VH1

While VH1 hasn't fallen out of love with irreverence, it's also no longer in the business of getting Bret Michaels laid. Instead, the Viacom net is prepping a slate of unscripted series designed to more faithfully reflect the concerns of its core demographic. "As much as they've enjoyed the 'Love' franchise, our audience was getting a little fatigued by all those manufactured reality shows," said Tom Calderone, president, VH1. "They want more authenticity in their reality, which isn't to say that it can't be comedic and light."

Look, VH1, I'm still in the business of watching TV shows about getting Bret Michaels laid, so you just go right back into that development room and don't you come out until you figure out a way to make that happen on my TV again.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Truth vs. Fiction

I probably should have been watching Glee last night.  As a savvy media professional who spends way too much time reading up on industry news, they're probably going to take away my membership card for not tuning into this year's television phenomenon.

Here's a little secret: I don't really like scripted television.  The list of shows I've never really gotten into is endless.  Lost, 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights...I mean, I have tried.  I have tried to watch these shows.  But I just can't.  And it turns out, the only one-hour dramas I really love are the first two seasons of Grey's Anatomy, season one of Felicity, and currently, Mad Men.  Half-hour comedies are a different story, even though my consumption of those is limited as well, but nothing beats a good Golden Girls or The Office rerun.

Previously, I have publicly blamed this on the fact that since I went to school for TV and took classes in writing for TV, I just know too much about how shows are structured to really relax and enjoy them.  And that's partially true - my brain starts working overtime, picking out the A story and the B story and figuring out when commercial breaks are coming - but the real reason is bigger.

I find scripted TV boring.

And there you go.

I don't like the American model of scripted television.  Without having a specific end date in mind, writers are forced to endlessly expand a story that was always better told in two to three seasons.  I was really into Lost for the first season.  But that show was poorly, poorly served by not having a specific end date in mind, because the second season was terrible.  Terrible!  And I didn't have the patience to stick with it.  The same story with Grey's Anatomy.  The first season of that show was genius.  And most of the second season was too, because so much was going on and so many stories were being told.  But then you got to season three and we all realized they weren't even through the first year of their internship program yet.  That's when Shonda Rimes and company started spinning their wheels and things like Izzie and George, Izzie and the dead deer, Izzie and the ghost of Denny (basically any storyline involving Izzie) started to happen and it was bad.  Bad bad bad.

It's a bigger symptom of how hard it is for TV shows to make money, and needing to get to a certain amount of episodes to go into syndication or release DVD sets, but in the end, storytelling always suffers when there's no end in sight.  The Brits have it right.  Their TV seasons are almost like extended mini-series, which makes a show into event television and serves creativity by giving writers something to work towards.

Why do I love reality?  Because it's self contained.  Because the story goes on as long as people are alive.  Because I can watch 14 episodes of America's Next Top Model and be cranky with Tyra for a while but then my commitment is over, and some of you have been irritated by Lost for 6 years now.  (Clearly I have the attention span of a gnat.)

I also love reality because the thing I fell in love with in film school was documentary film.  And like or not, reality TV (especially things like 16 and Pregnant, Be Good Johnny Weir, etc.) is the new documentary film.  I find real people fascinating.  I find what real people do fascinating.  And my TV is filled with it.

So I'll download the latest songs from Glee, and I'll probably watch the series finale of Lost just to see what happens, but in the meantime, I'll be over here with my DVR full of housewives and overweight people and aspiring models and pregnant teens.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bad TV Brings Friends Together

The following is a real email exchange with my LA BFF regarding the Style Network show Ruby*:

From: Josie
I am watching an episode of Ruby where she visits LA.  Her LA best friend is named Brittany.  I immediately recognized her as Brittany Daniel**, one half of the duo of twins that played Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield on the Sweet Valley High TV series.
I don't know what's weirder; that she's Ruby's LA BFF or that there is a part of my brain occupied by knowing who Brittany Daniel is.

From: LA BFF
To: Josie
Dude!  I thought that's who it was!  Thanks for confirming!

From: Josie
HAHAHAHAHA.  I'm love that I am not the only person on the planet who knows these things.

So there!  My love of bad TV isn't just a frivolous pastime!  It provides opportunities to connect with friends in faraway lands!  Thanks, Ruby!

*Ruby is a lovely little show about a Savannah, Georgia woman's journey to lose weight.  She once weighed 700 pounds and is now down to less then 350.  Her goal is to weigh 150.  It's on Sunday nights, which makes it a no-go for my overcrowded DVR, so I catch it in reruns.  Whenever I do see it, I love it.  It's The Biggest Loser for normal people with no Trainer Bob product placement.  However, it does feature the same amount of weeping, both by people on screen and those watching.

**IMDB tells me that Brittany Daniel is credited as a consulting executive producer on Ruby.  Hmm.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

blogger's block

I want nothing more then to share catty tidbits about my favorite tee-vee shows with you, my fine feathered friends, but MAN, do I ever have a case of writer's block.  Said writer's block may be brought on by the insanely warm Minnesota spring that's keeping me out of doors, drinking cocktails, and enjoying the sunshine after nuclear winter, instead of indoors, drinking cocktails, and enjoying the fruits of my DVR.

But here's a few things:

1. Um, holy Mean Girls over on Real Housewives of NYC.  I got really, really uncomfortable watching all of Bethenny and Jill's confrontations in the last two episodes (which I watched back-to-back this weekend).  They're both obviously really hurt - Bethenny's tears just about did me in, since as previously discussed, I'm totally Team B.  When did Jill turn into such a hell beast on wheels?  Maybe this article holds the answers.  Next week looks positively delightful between Ramona's crazy eyed runway walk and Bethenny getting herself knocked up.

2. Caite and Brent on The Amazing Race are...just...ugh.  Ew.  Can they please go home soon and stop torturing my TV every week?  And that'd make some more room for my future husband Jet.  Thanks, CBS.

3. Remind me to thank Tyra Banks for this season's crop of Top Model girls.  Between Angelea's Hammer dance and Alaysia's silver lame judging outfit and Anslee losing her poop over frozen veggies, it's been positively delightful.  (Coincidence all the crazy bitches' names start with "A"?)  I've always said the appeal of ANTM is watching tall skinny bitches lose their shit, and this season is living up to every one of my expectations.

4. A little birdie tells me Bret Michaels wept tonight on Celebrity Apprentice.  My DVR is already too busy on Sunday nights (between Amazing Race and Life) to capture the magic, but you bet your bandana I'll be checking that out on Hulu.  Perhaps a tribute to my favorite aging rocker will be coming your way soon.

5. On a business note, I am now the proud momma of the domain  Update your bookmarks thusly!  (Of course the blogspot address will still get you here...but why not make my $10 investment worthwhile?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

To My Future Husband

Dear Jet:

Have I told you lately that I love you?  Sunday's The Amazing Race might have been the most exciting episode I've seen since I started watching the show.  You and my future brother-in-law, Cord, were in last place.  LAST.  PLACE.  You also were spared elimination in the last leg and therefore had to do a Speed Bump (one extra task that no other team has to do) over the course of Sunday night's leg in Malaysia.  So that's, like, double last place.  

I'm not going to lie to you, Jet.  I was worried.  I didn't think that you and Cord could get out of last place.  Last week you made some pretty dumb mistakes, and all the teams are doing pretty well now, and even though everyone arrived in Malaysia on the same flight so you didn't have a ton of catching up to do, your initial cab trouble at the airport had me biting my nails.  And I really love you (and your brother, but you most of all), and I really want you to win, because that million dollars would be great for you and me once we get married.  I know we haven't met in person yet or anything, but anyway, I hear weddings are expensive and some cash would help.

But then, oh, Jet, but then you came through for me like you always do.  You and Cord finished the Detour before I realized you had started the Detour.  This is when I really love The Amazing Race; when one of the tasks the teams have to choose from sounds so easy but is really difficult (like carrying sticks of incense up a flight of 150 stairs...did I mention the sticks were 10 feet long and crazy heavy?) and the other task sounds difficult but is really easy (run 150 yards balancing a pole on your forehead).  And you did it, Jet, and then my heart started to flutter a little bit.

And then you just had to sniff tea for your Speed Bump!  And bring the right tea to the guru!  And you did that and then you did the Roadblock and made a very pretty craft project out of coconuts and sent it out to sea and were back in your cab before any other team even got there!  And then you checked in and Phil raised his eyebrow and said you were in first place and my little heart just tumbled all over itself.  

(Do you think it'd be okay with Cord if you took me on that trip you won to Hawaii instead of him?  I can probably find a friend to set him up with if he's looking for a wife too.)

I'm sorry I doubted you, Jet.  If you promise to marry me, take me away to your ranch, and teach me how to rope cattle, I'll never doubt you again.

Mi corazon!  Mi amor!