May 19, 2004

Parental Warnings

There's a lot of bad stuff on TV, right? I don't think anyone's going to argue with me on that point. There's also a lot of disturbing stuff on TV. There's a difference. The two are not the same.

Bad Television:
Lets take The Swan. Its horrible yet I will be watching the two hour finale in which The Swan is chosen and awarded the elusive cash and prizes worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars." The Swan is terrible. It completely objectifies women and tells them that real emotional issues will get resolved as long as they get pretty. Emotional stability and beauty? So not the same thing. But its bad television and, therefore, funny.

Disturbing Television:
Showbiz Moms & Dads. My wife and I were channel surfing after American Idol last night (you may make your own determination as to whether that was disturbing or merely bad) and stumbled across this Bravo series I'd heard about. Can I just say that I think, aside from the news, that it is the single most disturbing thing I've ever seen on television? Talk about a cringe factor. We were introduced to five "families" (and I put that in quotes because, hello, Dysfunction Junction is coming up on the stop Crazytown!):

The Barons:
Mom's a bitch and can't seem to refrain from using the word "fuck" or its many variations in front of her kids. And she seems perfectly willing to leave her 14 year old (repeat, 14) in L.A. while she moves to Colorado with her new husband. And her biggest concerns seems to be getting her kids an agent.

The Klingensmiths:
The son, Shane, has no recognizable talent whatsoever. I mean none. Yet, his car dealership owning dad is able to get him a gig opening at Gilley’s in Las Vegas (a totally appropriate place for a 13 year old). Name in lights...yadda yadda...opening night....blah blah...obsessive mom living vicariously through son is so proud...kid sucks absolute ass on stage and plays to approximately 20 people including friends and family then does a rambling monologue about how nothing would have been possible without super-obsessive mom. I predict seeing these two in some Dateline or 20/20 special about matricide in a couple of years.

The Moseley-Stephens:
Mom's an agent, daughter Jordan's an actress. Really, the mom here seemed to have her head screwed on right for the most part but she dragged her daughter to work with her then bitched at her when her homework wasn't getting done. I mean, get this kid to bed earlier than 10:30! And its not all about you, mom.

The Nutters:
Wow, what's in a name, huh? Imagine this. Overbearing dad drags his wife and seven (yes, seven) kids from a house in Vermont to a two bedroom apartment in NYC to try and score a sitcom based on, well, themselves. You'd hope that the whole family's on board right? That they'd all be really enthusiastic about this? They're not. Only the father seems to be at all interested. The rest of the family is just humoring him. Um, hello? If you're so miserable, leave the asshole in New York!

The Tyes:
I'm not going to sugar-coat this one - bitch mom drags precocious four year old daughter to beauty pageants. Its pretty clear this kid doesn't like doing this. Its also clear that the mom could care less about what her daughter thinks. Where does any parent get off throwing a kid into a situation like that? Why, for any reason, would it ever be appropriate to dress you daughter up like a hooker and have her parade around on stage in front of a group of judges who have to be a) so pathetic that they gain satisfaction through the misery of their children b) so disillusioned that they believe kids actually enjoy this shit or c) pedophiles in training?

Like I said, there's bad television then there's disturbing television. This was clearly one of the single most disturbing things I've ever seen on TV. I'm not a parent but even I, who have been known to try to get my cats to wear party hats, would never dream of doing this to a kid.

Posted by Chris at May 19, 2004 08:05 AM

I've said it other places, but this is my favorite trainwreck currently. I almost want to record these shows, and later on in my daughter's life show them to her, and say, "Well I'm not THIS bad!!!"

Posted by: amber at May 19, 2004 08:33 AM

how about that 20/20 thing where a baby was up for adoption and there were several sets of parents 'competing' for the adoption. tv at its absolute worst.

Posted by: laura at May 19, 2004 10:12 AM

Non of those programms are here, I'm safe!

Posted by: Sweety at May 19, 2004 10:28 AM

Wow. I can't believe I'm missing this show. That Nutter dad sounds positively ... well, you know.

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 19, 2004 10:51 AM

Hey, how 'bout if The Swan did a special where parents volunteered their ugly children for surgical enhancement, and then a beauty competition? Then would it, also, qualify as 'disturbing'?

*praying no Fox producers get read this and 'steal' the idea*

Posted by: jilbur at May 19, 2004 11:30 AM

What disturbs me most about television is that there are well over 100 channels and nothing good to watch...

Posted by: Lee at May 19, 2004 11:54 AM

I saw the preview for that show and just the PREVIEW raised my blood pressure, so I decided to stay far, far away from that one.

But hey. Do you know where I can find a button holder? I've got NOTHING TO HOLD MY BUTTONS. I'm freaking out over here.

Posted by: New Jan Brady at May 19, 2004 11:56 AM

The thing that pisses me off the most about the Swan is that once a week, two girls get made over, and then they tell one, "hey, you're prettier now, but guess what?? STILL not pretty enough. Go home."

Posted by: Anne at May 19, 2004 12:00 PM

Hi there,

Thanks for stopping by. Yes that would be really cool if you want to mention me yoga wise. This area is tough because it really is pretty saturated. I have a small contingent of students from the Earth Sangha, a Buddhist Environmental org I belong to. But beyond that I'm kinda stuck. Plus, Tranquil Space is so great that I want to refer people there as well.

I'm looking forward to reading your posts.


Posted by: Heather at May 19, 2004 12:05 PM

I have to agree that all of the parents on Showbiz Moms and Dads seem to be completely insane. And how is it possible that no one has ever told that Shane kid that he can't sing? I do think I'll watch the final episode next week aftermath show where the parents and kids get to explain how thier lives changed after the show. Perhaps now these people will realize they are nuts. At least I hope they will.

Posted by: Kerry at May 19, 2004 12:43 PM

I was thinking about the difference as I watch the "WB Superstar" show - which tricks people into thinking they are good singers. I was like "Bad - but not evil or sick - bad entertaining" But THEN I found out the way they made the audience cheer on the singers was by telling them they were with the make a wish foundation. THAT made the show cross the line, for ME anyway...So yeah - there is totally a difference.

Posted by: Zoot at May 19, 2004 01:19 PM

I watched the first episode of the Showbiz thing and was so utterly revolted that I couldn't watch any more. The Nutter dad is the biggest friggin' narcissist I've ever heard of, the Tye mother is so Patsy Ramsey (minus the good hair stylist) and I seriously think I'd shove that Klingensmith kid's head into the garbage disposal if she was mine. Oh, and Shane is just a white bread William Hung.

Posted by: Casey at May 19, 2004 01:25 PM

And what's worse is that more and more networks are programming primarily reality shows and in order to get viewers, they have to use more extreme concepts and cast more obnoxious/rude/bigoted/evil/whatever people to fill the show.

This is why I don't watch anything but re-runs anymore. And my Family Guy DVDs.

Posted by: pie at May 19, 2004 02:22 PM

I only watch Alias and the West wing (occasionally I'll catch a Gilmore Girls episode).

I despise relaity tv. ALL of it. I don't think on some level, they're ALL disturbing.

I remember, years ago, eating tapas with a friend at Gabriel. The tv was on over the bar and I caught the end of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionnaire. I couldn't believe a network would air such an immoral and debase program.

Unfortunately for me, they've only gotten worse over the years.

Thank god for Netflix!

Posted by: Mala at May 19, 2004 02:32 PM

Can I just ask... aren't The Swan and Extreme Makeover the same thing?

So why aren't people SO up in arms over EM? I know there were some objections off the top when that show was launched, but I've heard way more complaints about Swan.


Posted by: Kim at May 19, 2004 03:45 PM

Wow, now I know why I don't watch tv.

Posted by: Heather at May 19, 2004 04:20 PM

Thank goodness I don't own cable and have to pay to watch useless shows like that Showbiz Moms & Dads. Though I have watched The Swan and cannot believe anyone is buying into all this I want to help them get better emotionally and physically. Those women are going to go back home to their cheating, lying, irresponsible husbands and boyfriends and not capable of any social skills. Being pretty does not eliminate all your social and mental problems. Sheesh people!

Posted by: Amber at May 19, 2004 08:46 PM

I think the scary part would be those parents knowing that they're being taped, watching themselves on TV afterwards...and still not finding anything wrong with what they're doing.

Posted by: Zandria at May 19, 2004 10:01 PM

When I was flipping through one night I came across The Swan. I was stunned by the shallowness portrayed. I thought what if my 6 year old daughter was here looking at these people and what they were doing to themselves. I turned it off
Then I was flipping through that same night and was stunned by Showbiz Moms and Dads. The superficial crap that they were shoving down their children's throats. Why put a child through that? Who's dream is it anyway? I turned it off.
Reality TV has gone too far.

Posted by: Hul Doula at May 23, 2004 05:12 PM