Television as a form of torture

I like to keep things fresh and I’m not keen on revisiting topics I’ve posted about in the past but sometimes a good old rant can be more fun than swimming in a pool full of beer. So I’ll reiterate two points that I’ve made before. One: my girlfriend rules. I’m as lucky as a lottery-winning, rabbit-footed leprechaun holding a four leaf clover at the end of a rainbow. Two: the things my lovely woman watches on TV are, at times, just awful.

"Please make it stop!"

“Please make it stop!”

My girlfriend – I feel like I should name her since I mention her so often but I’ll maintain her privacy – works hard as the manager of ‘big stuff’ for ‘big company’ (privacy maintained – real smooth, Christian). She has to work hard because, with her smarts, she’s going to rule the world one day and you have to work your way up to roles like that. That’s why she likes to switch off when she comes home by watching rubbish television.

Please note that I am not taking a swipe at anyone who watches these shows. I couldn’t do that without taking a swipe at my girlfriend and she will forever live without me ever having done such a thing to her, much less publicly and much, much less for the shows she likes to watch. I’m only having a well-deserved whinge about them because I’m forced to give up precious minutes of my finite life to watch them with her.

And that’s why I’m going to vent. I’m sure it’ll make me feel slightly better…

Beauty and the Geek: Even my woman admits that it is “a distilled and pure concentrate of all that is wrong with the world today”. Well, all she really said is “It’s pretty bad” but I’m a fancy-schmacy blogger with a glittering lexicon who is not above inaccurate paraphrasing, gross exaggeration and the occasional lie. I just don’t get it. These guys have sky-high IQs and could do anything they put their minds to.


“Oh my God, he’s totally right, there are male lady bugs…”

So they portray themselves as needy, socially-stunted dorks for a nationwide TV audience. The beauties are portrayed as stereotypically unintelligent bimbos but, nonetheless, the type of lady that all men should aspire to impress, to mate with and to suffer for the rest of their lives. “I used to think all lady bugs were female.” None of them have actually said that but ten bucks says at least one of them will say it before their time is up. Stupidity seems to be endemic to reality television.

Gallery Girls: If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a group of vapid, well-to-do twenty-somethings from New York who want careers in art galleries because “it seems, like, totally cool and stylish and, like, we can totally make enough money to avoid being dirty, middle-class, off-the-rack plebs, all without having to work, like, totally hard” (inaccurate paraphrasing and gross exaggerations, remember…)

"Does this photo make my ego look big?"

“Does this photo make my ego look big?”

As if the occasional racist quip from one of them isn’t bad enough – “Everyone runs and hides here because everyone’s, like, quiet little Asian people and scared” – the one Asian girl in the group, who should have beaten the racist to a pulp with her own sense of entitlement, comes out with gems like “I feel like I’m a pretty good catch. I don’t know why I’m not having men fall for me, like, on the street or asking me out all the time” and “Who wouldn’t want to sleep with me?” The appropriate response to both those lines is “Standards – some men have them”. Another one of the girls said during an interview “I always get offended when unattractive men hit on me. Stop. Go over there. Go back.” I shudder to think that aliens might one day come to Earth and, before learning anything else about us, will see this show. They will undoubtedly set their phasers to “Burn, motherf#cker! Buuuuurn!” and raze this planet in a celestial second. I’ve considered paying our cable provider extra to ensure the channel they’re on isn’t broadcast to our apartment, just in case I accidentally flick past it and vomit into my own mouth a little.

"What? Ain't nuttin wrong wit it. You just jealous."

“What? Ain’t nuttin wrong wit it. You just jealous.”

Makeover shows: I won’t take one nasty swipe at all of them. Sure, it’s nice to get done up if you can’t afford it or if you have some self esteem issues and need a little encouragement to show you that you’re as beautiful as the next person. Sometimes they even go to work on people who need really need some help. One show my girlfriend was watching the other day featured a ‘dancer’ *ahem* who wasn’t sure where the strip club’s runway ended and where the sidewalk began. She was such a bad dresser than she actually chose to wear a tight little dress backwards because the back (which became the front) plunged to her backside. I think she was simply trying to let the people around her know exactly when she was ovulating and what she had for breakfast. She needed help, fair enough. What I really don’t like about these shows are the exaggerated affectations and the tears that pour forth when they finally unveil the ‘new’ person. I’m sure their friends and family are saying nice things but all I ever seem to hear them say is “OH MY GOD! YOU’RE NOT UGLIER THAN AN OYSTER SWIMMING IN A BUCKET OF PHLEGM ANYMORE! WOW, I NEVER THOUGHT YOU COULD ACTUALLY BE ATTRACTIVE! I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY FIXED YOU BECAUSE, HONESTLY, I THOUGHT YOU WERE A COMPLETE WRITE-OFF! AND TO THINK I TOLD ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN THAT YOU HAD A HEAD LIKE A SMASHED CRAB! WOW!!” I’m sure they’re just happy for them but the tears suggest that they’re breathing a collective sigh of relief, as if to say “Thank God, they’ve been fixed” which I find a little disturbing.

"Thank God, I can actually look at her without feeling embarrassed now!"

“Thank God, I can actually look at her without feeling embarrassed now!”

I’ve already spoken my mind about the Kardashians but I will make a quick mention of the fact that she’s had a baby. My sincerest wishes for a happy life go out to that child, truly. All babies are gorgeous and I hope she has a fulfilling life. But North West? Poor kid. That name is right up there with the unfortunate moniker foisted upon Aussie real estate agent Dick Payne.

Phwoar. That did make me feel better….


Love, living together and hiding the remote

When you move in with someone, you uncover things about them that you may not have been privy to before, things that you may have only glimpsed before you shared a mailbox and electricity bills, things that may even shock you a little (pun completely unintended). Moving in together after relocating to Singapore has hammered home a reality that I must face every time my girlfriend grabs the TV remote: her TV viewing habits are just awful. To be fair to her, she thinks my viewing habits are pretty bad too. To be fair to myself, she’s wrong.

I want to make something clear from the start. I once read a description of the perfect woman: one who’s smart enough to see through your crap but cool enough to put up with it. I, ladies and gentlemen, am lucky enough to have that. Smart, cool, gorgeous and has a heart the size of a watermelon. I am a lucky, lucky man. Until she grabs the remote, that is.

My dad and I used to love watching boxers test their mettle against each other but good bouts these days are as rare as hen’s teeth. The UFC has filled that void nicely. My girlfriend, though, would rather eat her own head than watch two guys beating each other up. “Babe, he looks hurt…” is a regular, incisive observation that she’ll make whenever a fighter’s face is covered in blood. I’m also a big kid and love a good animated series. Family Guy, Futurama and The Simpsons (before it became a shell of its former, glorious self after season nine) are my favourites. I love all sorts of movies, from art house to action to drama flicks but I really love watching good horror movies. My girlfriend hates horror movies but loves rom coms which I generally can’t stand. Game of Thrones does not interest her in the least, nor does Sons of Anarchy, both of which I view avidly. I can watch nearly any sport on television but putting the golf on is a sure way to put her – and, admittedly, most of the planet – to sleep.There are plenty of other shows I like watching that don’t quite do it for her. Sure, my viewing habits might not be her cup of tea, but that’s only because her taste in television – to put it eloquently and succinctly – sucks.

Whenever she grabs the remote, I make some sacrifices in the name of love that are worthy of the most romantic of Frost’s poetic treasures, the most heart-wrenching of Shakespere’s enduring dramas and the crappiest of the crap-riddled crappy romantic comedies my woman loves so much.

Rather than go on about our differences in taste, I’ll just rag on five shows that she loves that I just cannot watch without harbouring serious concerns for the future of the human race. In no particular order:

1. Glee – Yay! Kids with crippling emotional issues butchering classic and current hits with all the delicacy of a well-swung sledgehammer! Yay! I’d prefer to watch… oh, I don’t know… the ravaging effects of a severe case of frostbite engulfing my entire manhood. In slow motion.

2. The Kardashians – I don’t know about you, but when a woman who makes her millions by having a camera crew following her around every second of the day has a whine about having her privacy respected… I don’t know how to finish that sentence without referring to irony, stupidity and vomit. She’s of that new breed of modern day celebrity: famous simply for being famous.

3. Fashion Police – Kelly Osborne once said “I understand that being judged by others comes with the territory, but it broke my heart and ruined my self-esteem”. She is now a panelist on a show that rips others apart very publicly, simply for wearing things that aren’t ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’ enough. Joan Rivers might be funny but her attacks are scathing and merciless. Ironically, if Osborne wasn’t on the show, her patchwork of shitty tattoos (just get a good sleeve done, woman!) and her geriatric purple ‘do would make her a prime target for Rivers. Kelly, a fashion tip for you: those pale purple rinses are only cute on lovely old grandmother-types who you want to help avoid speeding cars as they cross the street, not spoilt brats who you want to push under speeding cars as they cross the street. Save it for your seventies (if you’re not pushed under a car before then).

4. American Idol/The Voice/X-Factor – I won’t be entirely critical. Some of their contestants are decent performers. Over the years, a few have even been spectacular. What does get under my skin about all of these shows are the sob stories. “A year ago, my dog died after swallowing one of my sexual aids, so I’m doing this for him *wipes tears away* I’ll always miss you, Boner.” My girlfriend has a heart so big that sometimes I wonder how she can fit it into her tiny little rib cage so she is an absolute sucker for their stories. Tears of sympathy well up in her eyes nearly every time she watches one of those programs. Stop making my girlfriend cry, dammit!

5. Miss Advised – A recent addition to my lovely lady’s list of favourite shows and it’s right up there with those shows that steal portions of your life that you’ll never be able to get back. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a brief synopsis: a woman, who runs a dating agency and charges her clients big bucks to help them find the right person, cannot find a date with the right person. Imagine a driving instructor starring in his own reality show about his inability to keep his car on the road. Cringe-worthy stuff.

But we have some common ground, a joyous place where our tastes overlap, where we can both get excited when a particular show or movie is on TV, where we can rave to each other about what we’re watching and quote our favourite lines from the movie or show together. We’re from Sydney so we both love watching the rugby league on TV and when our teams play each other we are louder than a couple of skeletons having furious sex on a tin roof. We both love movies from our younger years like The Karate Kid, Star Wars and The Goonies. Her love of these movies helped move me from the ‘I’m seeing this cool chick’ stage to the ‘I’m saving for a ring’ stage. We both think that the Star Wars series was savaged when episodes I, II and III came out. It was like watching rotten custard being heaped on the perfect meat pie: blech. We both think Tom Cruise is a very strange man but we love The Last Samurai for the sappy, dramatic slop that it is and we both like Ken Watanabe. We both love Amelie, The Bourne movies, The Newsroom, Entourage and anything that comes out of Ari Gold’s mouth. Our common ground extends beyond these productions but they spring to mind immediately.

Besides, we don’t love each other for things that we have in common. We love each other for the complex beings that we are, including the things that make us different. I already knew I’d hit the jackpot years before we moved to Singapore and moving in only confirmed it: I’m a very lucky guy.

Until she gets her hands on the remote.