Good morning, friends. Another hot one is in store for us today. It’s early morning here at the cottage, still somewhat cool, so the windows are open and fresh air is finding its way inside. When it gets hot enough, we’ll switch the AC back on. But until then…aaaah….it’s so nice to have the windows open! I get more than a little stir crazy when the AC is constantly on. It makes me feel trapped, somehow, as if I’m in a sterile environment from which there is no escape.
Somewhat dramatic, I know, but true, nonetheless.
May I complain just a bit about the state of television? Last night, Don and I watched Sunday’s episode of The Newsroom for the second time (it’s that good) and when it was over, we looked for something else that might be watch-worthy.
We have lots of cable channels available to us. What did we find? A sea of “reality” shows: swamp people, tow truck drivers, ‘real’ housewives, handfishers (what the heck?), gator catchers, hair stylists, the list goes on and on. And as each one appeared on the screen, we said out loud, “Who cares???”
None of these are truly ‘reality.’ They’re staged. Tell me how ‘real’ you would be with cameras following you everywhere? And more importantly, why would you want to have cameras following you everywhere? Why on earth would you want your private life on display for everyone to see? And again: Who cares?
Don and I sometimes goof around and lampoon the reality show style:
Me facing camera: Sometimes I like to eat while working on my laptop.
Shot of me eating a sandwich with laptop in the shot.
Me facing camera: “But when Don makes dinner, we eat it on trays in the den.”
Shot of Don cooking.
Don’s voice: Get ready honey, dinner’s ready.
Unattractive shot of me lifting Riley and carrying him down the stairs into the den.
My voice: I just have to go to the bathroom before we eat.
Shot of me disappearing into the bathroom. Door closes.
Shot of Scout scavenging for crumbs in the kitchen.
Shot of Don in kitchen with trays.
Sound of toilet flushing. Sound of water running.
Shot of me emerging from bathroom.
Don’s voice (somewhat impatient): Are you ready?
Shot of me plopping down in my chair.
My voice: Yes.
Shot of Don carrying tray into den with Scout constantly getting in his way.
Don’s voice: Move, Scout!
My voice: Scout, come here!
Shot of Scout entering the ‘tunnel’ under my legs.
Shot of Don handing me a tray.
My voice: Looks good, honey!
Shot of Don sitting down with his tray. Grabs television remote. He turns the evening news on.
Don facing camera: “We love to settle in to our cozy den and watch the evening news together.”
End of scene.
Or we ‘stage’ a fight, heightened and exaggerated, of course, for the camera. Something that Jeff Daniels’ character on The Newsroom calls ‘human cockfighting.’
Upon viewing either of these scenes, you would say, “Who cares?” And you would be right.
In our channel search, we couldn’t find anything new that was scripted and compelling. (This was on Monday night.) Lots of Law and Order reruns. Lots of reality crap.
I remember when Hill Street Blues first premiered. It was so well-written, so well-acted, so compelling and surprising and smart that I couldn’t wait for the next episode. I felt the same way about ER and NYPD Blue and a host of other quality shows. There are still excellent series being aired today, some on the networks, many on cable, but they are almost buried in a sea of voyeuristic, cheaply-made, so-called reality shows.
It’s the dumbing down of television.
Sad but true. Thank goodness for the few quality shows that are still out there. They give me hope that, someday, things might turn around.