Tag Archives: television

American Idol: Touching the Heart or Stabbing It? The Chris Medina Story

27 Jan

Did anyone else find this severely messed up? We all know American Idol has this history of heartbreaking stories: rags to riches, parental death to Cancer patient. Hey, it boosts ratings. That was all fine with me until this happened:

Video evidence of American Idol’s lack of heart

(look at 3:10)

There should be a distinction between heartbreaking story and capitalizing on a person’s disability. Ouch.

This happened.

I watched in discomfort as Chris Medina told his story. My feelings about his decision to stay and take care of his fiance aside (and all the sympathy, etc. that comes with it), why was it necessary to bring the girl in? She was shaking and could not respond to J. Lo’s comforting words and Steven Tyler’s awkward as hell kiss. She was exploited and publicly pitied on a major popular reality TV show. Ugh. My heart goes out to her but in a different way than American Idol’s producers intended.

On one hand, we hear the sob story and we feel compassion. Chris is a real person stuck in a difficult situation. Then you stop and think–wait a second–isn’t this a singing competition? You lose sight of the talent again. American Idol is a popularity contest after all. Again, that’s fine but there’s a line. Taking a woman who suffered from a traumatic brain injury to an American Idol audition, where she will later be talked to as if she’s a child by famous people, is just plain cruel and unsettling in my eyes. It’s a definite line-crosser.

That's messed up, American Idol.

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Ton Of Love: Wow, Who Writes for TLC?

19 Nov

Let’s begin our journey with “Ton of Love.”

Ton of Love TV-14 (D), CC
Go inside the lives of three morbidly obese couples and see how their weight affects their daily lives and relationships. Including a wife forced to take care of her demanding husband, a couple’s difficulties in the bedroom and a mother’s risky pregnancy.

Okay, wow. We might as well look at TLC’s Entire Wednesday/Thursday Line-Up:

Ton of Love
The Man With Half a Body
Sarah Palin’s Alaska
A Baby Story
Make Room for Multiples
Pregnant at 70
Say Yes to the Dress
Police Women of Dallas

So much to say. So much to do. It’s just too much!

The sad thing is every single one of these shows interest me. And it interests many other seemingly normal people as well (that’s debatable!). I want to know the trials and tribulations of being obese without actually having to be obese! I want to know what they even mean by describing a man having half a body! I decided to take matters into my own hands and investigate just why we are so fascinated by TLC and why the writers continue to come up with more and more outlandish  material as we speak.

Exhibit A–Escapism.

I'd rather just watch Say Yes to the Dress than focus on my custody battle!

 

Would anyone rather focus on the grave state of the economy over watching other people’s strange habits and lives? Aw hell no. Escapism, or the ability to not realize your meaningless existence, allows one to feel content with their life because–at least for right now–you’re not focusing on your mundane life. Hey, maybe my life isn’t so bad. Maybe cleaning toilets is actually rewarding! I can’t pay the rent, but at least I have a full body! My kids may annoy me but at least I don’t have 19 children! The list goes on and ours lives continue with our resulting positive outlook.

What is the root of escapism? I remembered learning about it in my psychology courses so I decided to go back to the MADCAT database. While researching for this entry I discovered that I no longer have access to the library services (now this is depressing!). Fortunately, Google Scholar saved the day.

And all I wanted to do was learn...!

Escapism relates to much more avenues than simple reality television. Escapism can be an excuse for alcoholism and binge eating. Okay, so reality TV is definitely not the worst case scenario.

The results from psychology research studies on reality television are pretty obvious. They all point to the happiness stemmed from escaping your problems, even if it’s just for a half hour segment.

So…Why, TLC, Whyyy?

Historically TLC, previously known as The Learning Channel, was not a channel with high ratings.

Learning, Ick!

In the 90s TLC was a place for learning and “Ready Set Learn.” Learning-not such a popular form of entertainment apparently-just wasn’t effective in gaining ratings. That’s where the shift came in. “Cable in the Classroom” turned into “Trading Spaces” and “Ready Set Learn” eventually led to “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

Culmination of all the poor ratings factors–> Reality Television.

Learning doesn’t yield good ratings and ratings matter more (even if that means we have to turn in the academia for a better education on obesity).

As for the results, I look forward to TLC and their newfound creativity in writing, even if I won’t be learning about the newest book series. Because that’s what TV is for anyways, isn’t it? Right?

Where do we go from here?

Please, for the love of God, read a book!

If only between commercials, let’s start reading again!

Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating: The Tomorrow of Mad Men

18 Oct

In order to effectively (and semi-productively) take a break from business school applications, I decided to write about Mad Men’s season 4 finale! AMC’s three time Emmy Award-Winning Outstanding Drama series, Mad Men, is undeniably captivating. It draws audiences into the Pleasantville-era, a description previously believed to be an accurate depiction of 1960s America. Ladies wore pretty floral dresses and their greatest aspiration was to get married, and the men brought home the bacon. Everyone smiled and everything was peachy. Mad Men shakes up that idealized perception. It reveals the secrets and the contradictions between the coveted façade and each character’s innermost feelings. It shatters the appearance of what we want to be at the expense of  who we really are. If you aren’t already obsessed with Mad Men, I would highly recommend the show to every adult demographic. It is quite possibly the most wonderfully unusual show on television. On paper it may seem like a common soap opera. A plot contrived around an ad agency (yawn). In truth, Mad Men is so much more than a series based around a specific era. The acting is simply astounding. From the emotional breakdowns to the apathy, Mad Men never disappoints. How can these characters not realize their miserable existence? How do they manage to keep their lives so secret from their families and friends? Spare me from trying to convince you, just watch it!

Spoiler Alert!

Mad Men finished off it’s fourth season tonight. As is true with every season of Mad Men, this season concluded with an “ending” that left us aching for the next season to start (rather than wait 9 months!).

“Tomorrowland,” the season finale, focuses on the future of SCDP, both professionally and personally. This season started off unlike any season prior. The office was different. The music was even different. Initially I grew estranged at the transformation. I had been so used to Sterling Cooper and all the secrets Don Draper had kept in that I was skeptical of the future of the show. It’s so character-driven that any lapse in writing could have a dramatic influence on the acting (and my reactions following). Matthew Weiner simply can’t beat season three. Boy was I wrong. The season 4 finale didn’t beat season 3′s triumphant finale, but it definitely didn’t disappoint us. Season 4 was emotional and at some points agonizing. We saw Don Draper morph from being externally perfect to a straight up disaster puking often and partaking in frequent relationships with hookers. Don wasn’t hiding from his past. After the many alcoholic outbursts, he really seemed to be moving forward in terms of accepting his imperfections because, well, he kinda had to. Hey, there’s beauty in the breakdown.

“What about Tomorrowland? I don’t want to ride an elephant; I want to fly a jet.” -Bobby Draper

Don grew up. He limited his alcohol. He started to develop a real relationship (to the extent any character on Mad Men can have a relationship) with Faye. She knew him, the real him. But Faye takes work. Real relationships aren’t solely composed of the honeymoon period.  Could he handle it? Faye’s send off message says it all, “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.” The relationship between them started off great. Faye didn’t buy into him right away (we all know Don loves that). Once it really got heavy, Don’s relationship cycle continues. Faye was cold at times, something he’d have to work on fixing. She borderline demands him to move on and grow up. Don does to some extent but definitely not in the way Faye had planned. As I mentioned, Faye takes work. Now that doesn’t sound like Don Draper material to me…

Can "Don Draper" ever be happy? (but he's so attractive!)

Now let me get back to this episode. So the big reveal: Don tells Megan he’s in love with her and proposes! What? I’ve heard some mixed reactions. I find some truth to his interest in her but I wouldn’t call it love. I’d say Don has become more of a coward. He’s finally breaking down and manning up to his past. Some may argue that Faye was really just paving the way for Megan. She led him to be capable of a mature relationship. Although I believe Don has matured (he even tells his kids that the Dick+Ana mark was about him), I think the whole Megan thing is really just a cop-out, a way to start over. Letting go of your past is one thing but starting anew, impossible. Henry puts it best, “There is no fresh start! Lives carry on!” I think Don’s actions are really just him running away again. He was making such good progress! I don’t think he has lost all of that growth, but he definitely hasn’t developed into a fully functional real human being.

He sees Megan as someone who can just cure it all. Megan treats a little milkshake spill as no big deal, a direct contrast to how Betty would’ve handled the situation. Just as Don remarked, she’s Maria von Trapp! But life isn’t that simple. Although Megan is different than most of Don’s love interests, she’s still his secretary. She sees a future for herself beyond being a secretary (even hints at becoming a copywriter), but still may I reiterate-she’s still a secretary. It’s been done before and he’ll grow tired. Megan claims she doesn’t care about Don’s past and knows who he is now. That’s all well and good until the relationship progresses. Yes, you can grow from your past but it’ll always be there. Don’s tendency to escape reality has an influence here. Pessimistic as this may be, I highly doubt Don will miraculously turn into a loyal and honest man who never cheats on his wife and is truly happy. Can Don Draper truly be happy?

In Peggy’s view, this is absolutely absurd. Here she is saving the company and it’s irrelevant once news breaks of the wedding. Peggy further proves her strength in this season. She wins the nylon account. An occurrence that oddly enough relates to Don’s comment to Rachel Menken prior, “Love doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.” Peggy’s made it with the big boys and what’s the thanks she gets? Don quasi-compliments her in claiming that Megan admires her work. Ugh, where’s the recognition? Despite her lack of formal affirmation, we all realize Peggy’s tremendous accomplishments. Here she was a naïve copywriter and now she has legitimately saved SCDP and grown to become an independent woman in a not-so-independent woman era.

Love the wardrobe!!

Betty, oh Betty. We all know Betty is a child. She has absolutely no business having children, and is no way a warm and caring person (especially in firing Carla!). Her parents really never taught her compassion. She’s spoiled and selfish. This selfishness has shown through more than ever in Season 4. We knew she was cold-hearted all along but surely not to this extent! Glen is correct, just because she’s sad, doesn’t mean everybody has to be. Perfect response!

To be continued…