Musings on Reality TV: Look what you have wrought, Writers' Strike!

The fallout from the writers' strike is finally hitting my household hard: in the absence of original dramatic programming on our TiVo, we are turning increasingly to reality shows of all stripes. And my GOD are they fascinating.

"The Hills" currently has us in its well-manicured clutches, and it has yielded some truly philosophical conversations, especially in the wake of the New Yorker article on the show's strange phenomenon. The program follows a small group of Orange County women (constantly jostling for dominance in their friends' loyalties) as they attempt to start their careers in fashion and similarly well-groomed careers. The two main characters (the show is so obviously staged, and shot with the glossy polish of a film, that it is possible to think of them as purely fictional constructions in discussing the show), Lauren and Heidi, have been warring for the better part of a season, reportedly (this is the first season I have watched) because Heidi and her gleefully villainous boyfriend spread a rumor about the existence of a sex tape starring Lauren. Thus I found myself in my living room one evening last week, listening to my roommate A and friend J have this conversation:

A: Who do you think is justified in the fight between Lauren and Heidi?
J: I don't think justice can take root in this soil.
We went on to watch "Dancing with the Stars" a show which has not only captivated my attention beyond what I would have thought possible (I mean, they have a sub-competition for dancing children! Who could resist?), but also reminded me of how much I used to love Christi Yamaguchi. I think she may have been the last figure skater about whom I felt an affection unfettered by irritation with how ... cute the sport could be. This may just have been because I was young enough at the time to feel idealism untouched by teenaged surliness.

My memory of dramas of the "triple axel" Albertville Olympics proved to be highly selective, however: I edited Tonya Harding completely out of the proceedings, perhaps because of her later unsavory behavior (she and Midori Ito were battling to become the first woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition, if I now understand the situation correctly), and only vaguely remembered the Ito-Yamaguchi rivalry. In other words, I had forgotten Ito's name completely (unfairly, since she was an extraordinary competitor) even mixed up her nationality, substituting our current global superpower rivalry (I remembered her being Chinese) for the industrial rivalry of the 80s and 90s (she is in fact Japanese).

Long story short: I still adore Kristi, and she is phenomenal in "Dancing with the Stars."

Our friend J, however, couldn't disguise his contempt for our new reality TV fascination, our ballroom beloved. He did, however, say some words that brought delight to my soul:
Someday, you know, you will being seeing Tyler Hansbrough on "Dancing with the Stars.
Being a Dookie (our longtime nemeses in college basketball), J snorted with derision at the idea of our team's MVP gallumphing gracelessly around the dance floor. So of course I was quick to shoot back a response about Tyler's perfectionism and work ethic: if he decided to become a ballroom dancer, you can be sure that he wouldn't be satisfied until he was the best damn ballroom dancer in the competition, foxtrotting his enormous form oh so delicately to and fro.

Sadly for those who love ballroom dancing, but happily for those who love Carolina basketball, it looks like Tyler will be staying in college for another year. I can't tell you how this information lowered my stress level.

In other news, my computer is having a bit of a social crisis: it refuses to acknowledge its good friend the power cable (or its other longtime buddy, the alternate/backup power cable) a good 50% of the time. So it looks like I will be sending it in for repairs this week. Luckily for me I have the best roommates ever, and they have offered the loan of their computers, but I may still find myself a bit more blog-absent as the week unfolds. I will try to sneak in entries wherever I can.

OK: Off to grade papers.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Love the A&J quote!

    So far I've resisted the lure of reality shows, having only watched part of a season of one several years ago.

  2. Jaimie says:

    I usually get my reality T.V fix from The Soup on E. Hilarious!

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