3/1 -- On Being the Lowest Common Denominator.
It's time to admit I have a problem.
You know that show on Fox, Temptation Island? The show where four nubile young couples were sent to Belize and separated and turned loose among hordes of scantily-clad hotties in order to test their level of commitment to their partners? The show where one nubile young couple turned out to be parents, which grossed out even the extremely-hard-to-shock Fox executives (and truly horrified people familiar with the dysfunctional antics of Taheed and Ytossie, the parents in question)? The show that had people wringing their hands and decrying The End of the World as We Know It? That one? Yes?
Someday, historians are going to point to the broadcast of Temptation Island and say "That was it. That was when Western civilization collapsed. That was the point of no return." It was vile and shallow and sick and hateful and ugly and a blight on humanity.
And I watched every damn episode.
That's embarrassing enough, but I cared about it. I cared enough that when I watched the series finale and all four couples chose to remain together, I wanted to pitch the TV out the window. I spewed my wrath and frustration all over various unsuspecting forums. What the fuck? Did Shannon have rocks in her head, staying with Andy? Did Billy have any testicles at all, sitting there and letting Mandy -- that nipple-licking skank -- whine about his harmless little dance in front of the other women? Did Valerie take 35 more of her "vitamins" before that scary, disjointed speech to Kaya? How could they stay with those freaks? How could they?
This afternoon, I had my first epiphany. Just as I prepared to fire off another indignant forum message, it dawned on me:
I gave a resigned shrug when Al Gore conceded the election to George Bush, but here I was spitting bile over the fates of eight miserably stupid and shallow people who'd actually go on a show to see if Playboy Bunny doctors could come between them. People who lied about being parents so they could get on this show, for god's sake. It all mattered to me. Dear God. I cared.
This was going beyond smug amusement: this was seriously unhealthy.
(Well, unhealthy except for my feelings about Andy. Andy is a miserable little rat fuck who deserves every single one of the millions of laughs people have been having at his expense for the last few weeks. If you didn't see the show, suffice it to say that Andy is such an obnoxious and thoroughly repulsive creature that even on an island where women were actually hired to tempt him away from his girlfriend, none of them wanted anything to do with him. They treated him at best with polite indulgence and at worst with outright contempt. That sums up Andy. He had enough sense to realize how repugnant he is and how unlikely he'd be to snag some other girl and proposed to his girlfriend right after the last show. She had so little sense that she actually said "Yes.")
So I erased my Temptation Island post and focused my attention on Survivor, the show that used to carry a heavy stigma until Temptation Island came along to make it look like somebody's quaint old grandma. I've only ever actually watched a little bit of the show: a couple of episodes from last season and just bits and pieces of this season. Mostly, I follow along with forum posts and the summaries that crop up like worms after a rain on Salon and other media-oriented websites. So I detest Jerri the wannabe actress even though I've seen her in action only briefly.
The survival challenges don't interest me much, but the machinations and politics involved in getting people off the island fascinate me. The backstabbing. The lying. The scheming. All the nasty sordid stuff. Sometimes I imagine how I'd fare on the show, forgetting that if the heat and humidity didn't kill me first, the Richards and Jerris of the world would bulldoze me on the way to that million-dollar payoff. I'd get voted off the island before the opening credits of the first episode rolled.
I don't watch this season's Survivor because the networks put it on directly against WWF Smackdown. Thanks to the way the cable is wired in our neighborhood, we can't tape one show while watching another, nor can we watch two different channels on different TVs. (Really. We can't. If there were a way to do it, Bill would have figured it out long before now. Our cable company is so lame that a local satellite company is just now offering customers the ability to watch different programs or tape them at the same time, behaving as if it were the world's most revolutionary entertainment concept instead of something that's been standard operating procedure everywhere else for a few decades.)
And WWF Smackdown wins out in our household. It was here first, an established habit long before Survivor reared its head in the same timeslot. (And Bill really, really hates Survivor. He hated the little bit he saw last year so much that it actually made him angry.)
So I've been following along online, watching video clips and plopping down in front of the computer to find out who gets booted off every week. And tonight's episode is supposed to be a major shocker. Something awful is supposed to happen to one Survivor tonight. Burns. Or maybe falling off a horse. Or maybe a crocodile attack. Something really terrible.
I read lots of rabid speculation about who the victim would be and what dreadful thing would happen to them and I started feeling sorry for myself. Damn, but I wanted to see that episode. Stupid cable company. Stupid CBS scheduling Survivor against WWF. The cool kids were going to be having a big party tonight, and I'd be sitting home alone.
And then I had a second epiphany and it dawned on me: I was peeved and put out because I was NOT going to get to see a show in which a human being was going to be seriously injured, perhaps even mauled by a crocodile. Somehow, in my perspective, this had become a bad thing.
This went beyond unhealthy. It was time to admit I had a real problem. It was time to give myself over to a Higher Power.
Hi, I'm Nicole. And I'm addicted to reality TV. The more sordid and vile, the better. God help me.