I Really Must Get a Hobby

I care waaaay too much who wins some reality programs. If I don’t like you and I think you are going to win I get downright cranky. It seems like the ones I intensely dislike are the ones that win all the time, but I guess that’s not true. But I don’t want them to win. Ever.

Cases in point on two of my favorite reality TV shows: Project Runway and Top Chef. Let me first tell you that it’s truly baffling that I adore these two shows. I am much more of a fashion victim than an aficionado. I don’t even particularly like Sex and the City (then again I don’t have HBO so perhaps the few TBS episodes I’ve seen have really suffered from the required sanitization).

And Top Chef is more haute cuisine and I’m more hawt dog. Really, I’d never go near much of the stuff on that show with a ten foot pole. And just what exactly is ceviche, anyway?

Nevertheless, I started watching each of these shows in their second seasons, and am addicted hooked obsessed mildly and appropriately amused by them. Competition is often fun to watch, and I envy these people their passion for their work (I don’t think it’s possible to be passionate about insurance, and if anyone is I’m sure glad I don’t know them).

With Project Runway the person I was hoping would win has lost two out of four times. Of particular disgust was Season Two, where Jeffrey Sebilia and his Most Hideous Designs Ever In a Runway Show won the day. In fact, I think all most many all of his designs are hideous. Last season’s Christian Siriano also had a lot of whack ideas, but at least I could admire a few of his designs. Still, I was rooting for Jillian.

Top Chef has only had three seasons since I began watching. The second season’s finale featured adorable Ilan and Eddie-Munster-channeler Marcel in the final. I hated Marcel. He’s smarmy and cooks weird food. That finale was stressful entertaining even though I thought Marcel would win. I was so relieved when Ilan took the day! Then last season’s finale featured Anal Retentive Hung vs. Dale and Casey. I would have been happy with either Dale or Casey, but Hung pulled it out, dadgummit. I was very not pleased.

So this year I was hoping for a turnaround. The top 3 were Sweet Stephanie, Rockin’ Richard (each of whom won 4 challenges during the season) and Sourpussy, Arrogant, Bristly Lisa (who was in the bottom two for thirty-seven weeks straight). Guess who I was cheering against? They really kept me on pins and needles until the final second, but Stephanie pulled it out.

Honestly, I think Stephanie was the only one happier than me.

See what I mean? I need a hobby. But it won’t be sewing. Or cooking. I’m amused by these shows, not inspired.

Workout’s Deenie and Gregg – a Lack of Respect

Workout is not a show I usually watch. I did catch part of the show last night, though, and it royally pissed me off.

I have seen it a few times, but usually it’s only on in the background after I’ve moved onto another activity while not bothering to turn the television off.

If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a reality show set in a gym owned by a woman named Jackie. The show depicts gym life and Jackie’s personal life. As part of the show they run a special, intense boot camp program called Skylab for very out-of-shape people to get into shape.

The portion that caught my eye involved Gregg, one of the trainers, and Deenie, one of the trainees. Deenie went into the assistant manager’s office to voice her concerns about her relationship with Gregg. He was late for their training session that day, and he’d been consistently late. She had a hard time scheduling sessions due to his intense schedule, and he also was not returning her calls in a timely manner.

Deenie is a morbidly obese girl who wants to be able to walk into the Gap and buy a pair of jeans. She wanted a relationship with her trainer that’s warm and supportive, motivating her and making her feel that she’s part of a team – just the way Jackie, the owner, described the program.

As they’re talking Gregg arrives and Deenie and the assistant manager confront him. Deenie’s trying to diplomatically tell him what she wants and Gregg is not open at all. Not even a little bit. He tries to make it all about her lack of commitment. She may or may not have a lack of commitment, but what Deenie is trying to address is his lack of respect. She’s paying him. Be on time.  And she wants a relationship with her trainer like the one Jackie described.

Gregg gets very defensive and starts bellowing about her speaking disrespectfully to him (she commented that the dismissive comment he made was “bullshit”), and at this point my blood pressure is boiling.

He’s dismissive, he keeps cutting her off, even says that Jackie doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And Deenie gets upset because she’s not being understood. At one point she comments that she wants more from him than the three hours per week in the gym and he replies that she can call him any time. She says, “You. Don’t. Call. Me. Back.” He doesn’t address this at all. He says, “Just, first of all, it needs to be understood that, I mean that, as far as this situation goes I am the expert.”

WHAT?

Then the assistant manager tells Gregg, in a misguided attempt to calm things down, that all Deenie wants is some love and attention, and Deenie and I both look at the assistant manager like she’s NUTS. He’s not her Daddy (though part of me wondered if she wasn’t reliving a past conversation in THAT relationship). He’s her trainer!  It’s not about love and affection, it’s about R-E-S-P-E-C-T (bow down to Aretha).

That’s NOT it, people. She’s not feeling like her trainer is responsible, and she’s not feeling like they’re a team.

True, she wasn’t effectively communicating her point. Also true, he was not open to listening AT ALL. He’s the expert and she has to trust him. She can’t work out due to injury (which he was derisive about), she tries to reply that there must be other suggestions he can make/things she can do to move things along but she can’t even get it out of her mouth before he gives a dismissive and final “No.”

No? There’s nothing? Nothing?

“There’s got to be a certain respect that comes with us talking or us training together,” Gregg says in an interview later. Exactly, Gregg. Why don’t you start doing that?!!!!!

UGH.

Later Gregg talks to Jackie, the owner, and totally skews it so that Deenie looks like a lunatic. Jackie totally backs Gregg, but tells him to work it out because he’ll feel good if he does, and if it doesn’t work out at least he’ll know he tried.

In the end Gregg calls Deenie and says, “Let’s let bygones be bygones,” and she agrees. And then he admits he doesn’t like her.

I would so not work out with him again. He would be so fired. I think Deenie is setting herself up to fail by staying with a trainer who has no respect for her. It shouldn’t be about him, but at the same time part of the motivation to keep working is knowing you have someone who will walk with you, sweat with you and kick your butt if need be.

Jackie should give this girl a refund. I don’t even need to see another show to know that this girl, who probably should never have been accepted to such an intense program to begin with (for medical reasons), will likely not succeed.

I know that there are good trainers out there who are not only educated in exercise physiology but also in how to keep individuals motivate. Having been a member of several gyms, though, I’ve run across attitudes like Gregg’s before. Why is it that so many trainers have contempt for the people that pay them? Of course many of the students lack consistent commitment. Of course they’re going to get discouraged and want to quit.

If they knew how to keep themselves motivated and knew what exercises to do and how to do them correctly they wouldn’t need to hire a trainer.

If all you want to do is train hardbodies to be harder than only have them as clients. Leave the really challenged people alone. But if you want to really make a difference in someone’s life let go of your contempt and your judgments and ride the wave of emotions to help create a healthier life with a fat chick.

A Treasure Trove of Trash TV

Tonight I found myself in a place I’ve never been before.

There are two trashy reality shows I want to watch. At the same time.

My first contender is American Idol. They go to Hollywood this week, where all of the arguably talented contestants compete to make it to the top 24. This year some people get passes from the first round to the final day. For the rest they have to prove themselves, making for tons and tons of good drama.

AI is a perennial favorite of mine, and as such I set the TiVo before the season even started to catch every last dramatic drop. I even set it to stop recording five minutes late, as many people I know were left hanging last year when the finale ran late. I answered more than one frantic phone call wondering who the heck won.

Then, today, as I was sitting Tornado vigil, I happened to look at the TV listings to see what unlucky shows the networks pit against AI. There among the poor ratings victims was Big Brother 9.

What? That’s a summer show!!!! What the heck are they doing starting that in February, for goodness sake! And then I realized… we’re in February sweeps. You know the sweeps – when the networks pull out their ratings busters in an attempt to increase their viewership so they in turn can charge more for advertising all of the stuff we mostly don’t want or need.

I can’t say I watch BB religiously. But one cannot miss the first show. No. Absolutely not.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Luckily, I have TiVo. I also have three televisions. Most importantly, I have a husband who is willing to either play on his computer or use the little TV in the guest bedroom so I can watch BB9 and TiVo AI’s second hour. I think he’s only letting me do this because AI running two hours means House is not on, but I’m not asking. I shall just assume it is out of the kindness of his heart.

So, I will get to watch all of my trash TV tonight. And then Husband and I will together watch the only TV show we both really love: Boston Legal.

There is joy in Florida, despite the tornadoes.

Denny Crane.

American Idol Shows A Kinder, Gentler Simon Cowell

At least to their faces…

I’ve been greatly looking forward to this year’s American Idol.

I watched both episodes of the auditions, and I have to say that I’m whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed. Just whelmed.

There was the usual collection of good, bad and truly horrible singers. There was a freak or two (Paul Marturano, the creepy Paula-stalker guy who sang, “If she were a bathtub, I’d caulk her.”  It was a joke, right?  Right?) and lots of background on various hopefuls.

Some of the backstories even brought me to tears, like Angela Martin, mom of a girl with Rett Syndrome. Ugh. Great voice, and I’m glad she got through. There were several people with potential to do well, but to me no absolutely fantastic standouts.

I could not help but notice that Simon went very easy on most people. He was downright kind to Temptress Brown, a truly horrible singer with a very sad life. She takes care of her morbidly obese mother, who is on oxygen and has a myriad of medical problems. Heck, watching that backstory had me starting a diet today.

And she wasn’t the only one. There were several people who had terrible voices and non-Idol looks that were really excited and enthusiastic and…horrid. He let them down easy. He was kind, and gentle, and showed a compassion I didn’t know he possessed. As a fellow human I was touched. After all, when I think about these contestants as people, and that they have to go home and watch themselves being poked at, I empathize with their humiliation.

Still, I must admit I was slightly disappointed. Part of me enjoys the poking, because I agree that they are horrible. Part of the fun of the audition process is watching Simon tell people what we’d tell them if we were there and had the guts. And lack of compassion. And tact. I especially enjoy it when the person is arrogant.

I’m not proud of it, but there it is.

In our real lives we don’t talk that way to people, and for good reason. Can you imagine if you worked in an office full of Simons? Or went to a mall full of Simons? Or married into a family of Simons? Or even just knew Simon?

On the other hand, I like to think I have enough of a grasp on reality to know that I have a lousy voice. I could not carry a tune if it was in a suitcase. With wheels. And a porter. Really, are some of these people that tone deaf? Do the dogs in their neighborhoods not howl? I know my abilities, so I won’t be appearing in any reality shows involving singing contests. Or beauty contests. No cooking contests, endurance contests, grace contests or dancing contests. As my sister once told me, “Extreme Makeover. Now THAT’S a show I could be on.”

American Idol, Rock My World

My favorite guilty pleasure makes a return to the airwaves tonight.

American Idol, with all it’s drama, talent, bad notes and overdone hair (and that’s just the judges) is finally back. The talent of a few and the watching-the-train-wreck-ness of many (hello Sanjaya) will keep me listening with at least one ear for the next few months.

I started watching the first season, but not until the last ten minutes of the finale. I poo-pooed it along with all of the other pseudo-intellectuals, but decided to watch “just the auditions” of season 2 to get a laugh.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of my downward spiral into a special kind of Hell.

I love it. I love the great singers, I love the William Hungs. I love Clay’s Mini-Me, and Paula’s possibly-pharmaceutically-induced weirdness (did anyone catch Hey Paula?). I love Ryan, and I don’t care if he’s gay. I love the outrage over contestants sent home too early, the tears of the little girls in the audience, the sultry come-hither looks of the Aces and the Constantines…
And I really love my TiVo, which lets me skip the commercials.

So, please join me from wherever you are, and watch the first show. 8pm Eastern time. I’ll bring the hot chocolate.

Guilty Pleasure – Tila’s Shot at Love Finale

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

I cannot wait until tonight, when Tila Tequila lets us know which way her wind blows, at least for now.

Tila, someone famous for being on MySpace, for goodness sake, extended her 15 minutes of Warholian fame by signing on with MTV to become the Bi-chelorette on A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. The show’s hook?

Tila is bisexual. So twelve males and twelve females compete for a Shot at Tila. Yes. And as the prospective winners were winnowed down to the final two, they all had to sleep on one very large bed.

Yes.

So, now that Tila eliminated all but two, will she choose the mostly-male Bobby, a twenty-something student of…something, who apparently has stolen Richard Dreyfus’ voice? Or Dani, a firefighter with a somewhat odd forehead curl, who is decidedly NOT a “lipstick lesbian” (I just looove that term!), in whom she could theoretically get the best of both worlds?

And am I the only one who didn’t miss the irony that the two finalists have sexually ambiguous names?

Oh, yes. A very guilty pleasure. And I’m apparently not the only one, if the frequency of the reruns and the pre-finale hype are any indication.

My normally quite sane sister confided to me that she watches the show, and that she’s rooting for Dani. When I told her that Dani’s firehouse is less than a mile from my home she advised me to start a fire in the hopes that Dani would be the one to come and put out the flames, just so I could tell her my sister was rooting for her.

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Not that I haven’t thought about dropping by the firehouse so that my son could see the fire trucks, and if Dani just happens to be there…but I SWEAR I was thinking about it even before I ever heard of Dani!

So, who am I rooting for? Bobby. Why?

I like Dani. I think she seems really, really sweet. And I think she deserves better than Tila, who still doesn’t know which way she’s twisting.

And I hate the haircut, Tila. HATE IT.

I will be watching tonight.

I know you will be too, you naughty, naughty guilty pleasure seeker, you.

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