I spent the last five days lying prone on the sofa, my fever raging and my thumb planted weakly but resolutely on the “channel up” button of the remote. And boy does daytime TV suck. Though it’s certainly no wonder that the still-compelling “The Price is Right” remains on the air. Honestly, I only had to be tuned in for about thirty seconds before I was yelling out prices (OK, it was more like “raspily croaking”) and grinning (i.e. grimacing wanly) like an idiot when some schlub won a new car.
But when did they start giving away Christian Louboutin shoes and Calvin Klein dresses? Not to mention calling groovy little tattooed hipster boys to “come on down”? Of course they also still give away plenty of hideous Broyhill bedroom sets. And the studio audience remains for the most part decidedly non-hip…
And I’d forgotten how much I hate contestants who get on the show but are unfamiliar with the various games. Some broad just lost the Clock Game – that’s right, the Clock Game! It’s one of the few games on the show that is a guaranteed win if the contestant has an even basic understanding of how it works… Jeez! And don’t get me started on the many lame bidding strategies going on in contestant’s row.
Daytime TV is not only lousy – it’s depressing. The shows are bad enough – gab fests featuring C-list celebrities I’ve never heard of, the countless courtroom shows (none of which hold a candle to Judge Judy – and even her shtick is getting a little long in the tooth), the soaps. Ugh, a vast wasteland indeed – a wasteland with 300 channels. Thank God for HGTV and Food Network – there’s always an episode of House Hunters or Good Eats showing…
But worse than the shows are the commercials. What a sorry lot we shut-ins apparently are as a demographic. Ads for Hot Pockets and Pop-tarts, immediately followed by Marie Osmond or some other low-wattage celebrity shilling for weight loss regimens and fat-burning potions. Depressingly earnest spots for laxatives and stool softeners, the actors doing their best “I’m suffering from constipation during this important business meeting” routines. Lawyers clamoring for the custom of victims of asbestos or renal-failure-inducing enemas (I shit you not – no pun intended). Insurance policies to cover one’s “final costs” pitched by folksy, washed-up TV personalities. Check cashing and “payday advance” establishments touting their convenience while never mentioning their usurious rates and fees. Car insurance come-ons (“DUI OK!”) with the worst production values ever (I’m looking at you Dashers and The General). Prescription drugs with frightening and bizarre side effects, despite the relatively mild ailments they claim to alleviate.
And don’t even get me started on the Hoverounds, Larks, Lil’ Rascals and all the other motorized scooters being hawked. I’ve always hated those scooters – I simple can’t get past my view that wheelchairs are for the crippled, scooters are for the lazy. If one actually has some sort of affliction that makes walking impossible, then one gets a wheelchair. But a scooter? It’s for the slothful and the obese. Don’t believe me? Just head to Disney World. The place is crawling (or should I say “lumbering”?) with scooters piloted by fatties, turkey leg in one hand and a gallon of Coke in the cupholder, maneuvering up to the funnel cake stand.
I’ve also been watching CNN, which is pretty much exclusively covering the ditching of USAir flight 1549 – or the “Miracle on the Hudson” as it’s already been dubbed. Quite an amazing story – though I cringe at the use of the term “miracle”. It’s as if God’s hand was actually visible to the naked eye as it gently guided the plane to a smooth landing in the middle of the river. But then why did He make those geese fly into the engines in the first place? Or were they devil geese?
And frankly, “miracle” takes away from the extraordinary performance of the crew of the aircraft. Pilots and flight attendants are trained and retrained in responding to emergencies – and, as is so often the case, this training saved many, many lives. And I’ll wager that whenever we finally do hear from the crew, they’ll all deny being heroes and point out that they were simply doing the jobs they were trained to do.
Of course, with no deaths, the story isn’t really sexy enough for the news. So the anchors and reporters fill in the gap by spouting gory and horrifying hypothetical situations. “Well, if this had happened next week, there would’ve been ice in the river – which could have ripped open the planes fuselage, causing the aircraft to erupt into a fiery ball of death as it cartwheeled down the Hudson, incinerating everything in its path, the passengers’ screams clearly audible in mid-town Manhattan as they were burned alive. And anyone who survived the deadly inferno would likely have been devoured by the many man-eating sharks that populate the Hudson River. Coming up next: what would have happened if swarms of bees had filled he cabin during the crash landing? We’ll talk to bee expert Henry “Buzz” Collins after the break.”
Eh, I suppose I should be grateful for the varied though largely sub-par offerings on my TV. There’s not really a whole lot else to do when one is stricken with the plague (which I’m pretty sure is what I’ve had all week… the buboes seem to be clearing up nicely though). Reading was out of the question, as it required me to both open and move my eyes, a painful and overly-vigorous task. Online activity was excrutiatingly interactive. Staring slit-eyed and slack-jawed at bad TV shows while shivering and downing codeine and Vitamin Water seemed about the only activity that I could engage in… Well, other than longing for the Grim Reaper’s cold and clammy embrace.