Monday, May 26, 2008

They said you was high-classed, well that was just a lie

Dear No One in Particular,

I have an embarrassing penchant for tacky, gaudy, cheesy things. Giant plastic jewellery, glitter, the colour pink … I love all of these things. Needless to say, I understand that this love needs to be exercised in moderation. All things tawdry are my undercover lover, and are only allowed to go out with me in public once in a while. No holding hands, though.

It should be no surprise, then, that I love reality TV. LOVE it. Especially talent/competition reality shows.

If I were being entirely truthful, my affection for reality TV is more like a sick obsession. I stalk shows on my Tivo, actively searching for new and increasingly ridiculous shows to watch. Obviously, this isn’t all that difficult a goal to attain: it seems as though the Golden Age of Television has passed, and we’re now in the Dark Ages of Primetime.

Case in point: “Groomer Has It”, Animal Planet’s answer to Bravo’s monopoly on talent/competition shows. I thought that Bravo execs had mined that well dry; I figured that they had hit the bottom with “Shear Genius” (a show that was actually pretty entertaining). But no, Animal Planet jumped in with a jackhammer. “Meerkat Manor” is a testament to Animal Planet’s poor programming. Full disclosure: as an only child, I tend to anthropomorphise just about everything, but watching Meerkat Manor made my head hurt. Yes, I understand how parallels between animal life and human soap operas could be drawn, but Christ in heaven that show is dumb. I saw one episode, and it happened to be the one where Flower died. While it was kinda sad (it was more disturbing to watch the meerkat die in a visceral sense, not an emotional one), I can’t wrap my head around the whole outpouring of emotion that followed. It was like Princess Di had died all over again; tribute videos flooded the Internet, even the freaking New York Times did a piece on the little rodent.

At any rate, “Groomer Has It” is utterly ridiculous. It’s proof that TV execs are running out of ideas for TV shows. While there is no doubt that dog grooming takes a certain level of skill to execute well, it hardly merits a TV show, let alone the sheer amount of drama that is displayed. These people take themselves and this show far too seriously. Contestants make proclamations like “the title of ‘Top Groomer’ would change. My. LIFE.

I, uh. I’m not 100% sure how to respond to that. I’m sure being on TV would change your life, not to mention your career. But I highly doubt that Paris Hilton is watching Animal Planet, thinking that she will send her obnoxious live accessories to the winner of this show, and only that winner. I don’t trust that she has enough active brain cells to string that many thought together. But I digress. My point is that it’s not the title that these people are interested in, not matter how many times they say it. Just admit that you’re a whore for the money and the trailer -- sorry, “mobile grooming salon”.

All this having been said, I have kinda fallen in love with this show. I caught a couple of episodes while on vacation, and oh my god, it’s so ridiculous it’s great. It’s the “Showgirls” of reality TV! Like I said, the groomers take themselves so seriously. One girl (now eliminated) admitted that she had a “seventh sense” about a dog yelping, and decreed it was because the dog was matted or in pain. That’s a MENSA candidate I want grooming my pet.

Aaand that’s the key to my love of reality TV: it’s a wonderful conduit for my anger. I have a lot of rage, and yelling at reality TV contestants, while incredibly lame, is how I channel my rage into safe outlets. Also, it tends to be pretty entertaining.

I used to watch “Biggest Loser”, but by the end, I’m so emotionally invested that I feel as though I’ll have a heart attack by the season finale. The Boy keeps telling me that it can’t be healthy. I keep telling him to shut his word-hole.

But back to “Groomer Has It”. The judges crack my shit up. One of the judges is cross-eyed. Not just a wee bit, maybe are his eyes a little wonky? kind of cross-eyed, but straight-up his-pupils-are-pointed-at-each-other fucked up eyes. I spent an entire episode screaming “HOW CAN HE SEE?!” He also has a super-pinched face, which makes me think he’s a bit too haughty for someone who’s walleyed. Really, that’s a critique that could be applied to pretty much all the judges (not the walleye bit, but the overly haughty part). These people are dog groomers (some simply show dogs). They’re not exactly saving the planet, here.

Another favourite of mine is Jay Rodriguez of Queer Eye fame. He’s such a great host. You can see the thoughts parading through his mind: What did I do to deserve this andThis is so dumb. He knows he’s better than this, but he’s trying not to let it show.

I have an intense love-hate relationship with reality programming. I love to hate it: I spend entire episodes laughing at the contestants and screaming about how painfully dumb they are. I have crafted whole arguments for eugenics based on episodes of America’s Next Top Model. And yet, I keep going back. I think it might be something like love. Sick, disturbed love.


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