Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Gauche and Unsophisticated List Part 3: TV Guilty Pleasures

Now in my earlier Gauche and Unsophisticated lists I have alluded to the fact that I may not have the best taste in many things. In fact I think I may have more guilty pleasures than the average person. Some people probably normally watch interesting documentaries and deep interesting HBO dramas and read award winning novels, and only indulge in watching their one silly show and reading series fiction occasionally. However, I am just the opposite, I usually read shallow, fickle books, and watch silly TV shows and movies, and occasionally try to read a decent book or watch a decent show when I feel a bit guilty for not expanding my horizons. I figured it was time to come clean about all my guilty pleasures, which I over indulge in. This week it is TV - where I admit I have weaknesses for bad reality shows, silly game shows from the 1990s and cheesy Canadian teen dramas. Prepare to be horrified.

My most recent TV guilty pleasure is Degrassi: The Next Generation. One night, instead of going to a law school social (in reality: similar to a keg party - except at a bar), I got drawn into a marathon on The-N network (the network that is directed towards 12-17 years olds). This show follows a bunch of students through junior high and high school as they deal with every teen issue (except racism - so I guess there is no racism in Canada, yet oddly minority characters keep disappearing even when they are related to other main characters). Basically every episode is a Very Special Episode. I had no prior investment in the Degrassi series. I was way outside of the target demographic, considering the show premiered after I graduated from high school. Further I don't only watch this show to mock it, I have become invested in the storylines. I squeed when Sean, the rebel who was going through a stealing phase when he fell in with a bad crowd, told Ellie, the angst ridden goth girl with an alcoholic mother who once posed as Marco's girlfriend even though he was gay, that her cutting scars did not scare him and instead touched her scars and held her hand when they were on the roof in the episode that was an homage to the Breakfast Club. I nearly cried when J.T., the dorky class clown, was stabbed and later died when looking for Liberty, the bookish smart girl who had his baby and put it up for adoption the season before, to tell her he loved her. He died before he could tell her, and Liberty found him slumped against his car, and it was very sad. I felt so bad for Ashley when she was ostracized by her friends after taking acid and insulting everyone at then end of the school year party - I still can't watch that episode all the way through because I feel so bad for her. I yell "shut up Emma!" every time that the main character who we are supposed to love, Emma Nelson, does something annoying (which is all the time). And in the most recent season finale I was so happy when Paige and Alex finally reunited, Alex was finally able to leave her toxic mother and quit stripping, and Paige was beginning to deal with her fears of dating another girl. Aww!

Speaking of Canadian teen dramas I also loved Higher Ground and watched it when it aired on ABC Family and then later WAM! This show took place at the worst outdoor school for troubled teens ever. There were so many illicit relationships and use of illegal substances, along with students running away, falling down mine shafts, directors relapsing and recovering in a three week period, staff members hooking up, and many other problems during every episode. Though I recognized these issues, I was still invested in the drama and was incredibly happy when Scott (played by Hayden Christiansen), the athlete who turned to drugs to deal with the fact that he was molested by his step mother, and Shelby, the drug addict runaway who had to turn tricks on the street to escape her step father who abused and molested her as well, finally became a couple. I know, I know, these teenagers had way too many issues to be in a healthy relationship, but I wanted them to be together anyway.

Then there is everyone's favorite show, America's Next Top Model. The crying, the wacky photoshoots, the dramatic makeovers, the fighting, the mothers missing their babies, Tyra trying to become Oprah and trying to demonstrate different modeling poses, Janice Dickinson judging while drunk or high and crawling on tables (the show hasn't been the same since she was replaced with Twiggy)! I love it, and not only mock it but I have my favorite models, and I was so-o happy when Adrienne won in the first season. I also have watched many other try to gain fame shows - Dirty Dancing, Finding the Next Pussycat Doll, the Missy Elliott future rapper show.

I was ecstatic when I discovered that ESPN classic was airing re-runs of American Gladiators. When I was ten I would stay up until 1:30 am to watch American Gladiators, and I even insisted that everyone at my 11th birthday slumber party watch it with me. Eventually I gave up American Gladiators to watch Saturday Night Live, but I still remember that I wanted to be 6'3" like Sky and always thought Nitro was mean and a poor sport (at least other gladiators shook the contender's hands). I am now watching it again at 7:00 pm every night. I am choosing to watch it over Jeopardy! I have chosen to watch bulky, roidy, mulleted people running around, smacking each other, and climbing things, instead of improving my trivia knowledge. My watching this show might be making me dumber.

Speaking of watching wacky, entitled people compete in silly competitions, I also love The Real World/Road Rules Extreme Challenge. I love the wacky competitions that they have to compete in. I fall for the editing every time. I hated entitled Princess Susie and thought her I Hate Tonya game was awful. I was so glad when Sarah proved herself to her team in five Gauntlets. Even though I don't watch either the Real World or Road Rules, I watch the challenge.

The things is I watch many other TV shows that are only moderately defensible. These shows are just the worst of the many shameful shows I watch or might get drawn into watching (I'm incredibly tempted to watch The Hills season three), and I'm sure I will find more. But really I can't be the only one that watches all these shameful shows, am I?

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