At some point during the summer, one of my friends asked me to blog for her while she went on vacation. Apparently she is a paid 'tweeter' or commentator in various livestreams and publications for television, and apparently it is lucrative enough to allow her to have a holiday. The catch? I had to binge-watch several shows so I could quip with credibility.
So the first assignment, and my 'audition', was The Bachelorette... regular network, fairly appalling, required reviewing a previous season of The Bachelor to get the backstory on the heroine who had been pretty well re-styled and made-over during the year, was admittedly all-American nice and gorgeous in a high-maintenance way, but likable. I couldn't help inserting opinions on the pretty good-sized pool of racial diversity even though most of America knew she'd never cross-breed. But what we were not prepared for was her choice of sub-par intellect, not to mention his bigoted, homophobic and misogynistic tendencies. Is this the New America, the one that makes Kanye do the Presidential dance? My comments were disallowed. Politics nixed. Lovelier thoughts, my friend encouraged-- Keep it light... The only positive I could come up with was about her not-quite-as-attractive real-life (presumably) sister who was truly wife-worthy, loving and supportive, but this was not valid currency.
Next task: I binge-watched two entire seasons of Real Housewives of New York. At least I could GPS locations... and one of my girlfriends had actually worked on some charity with Carole Radziwill... so I focused in on her. At first she seemed relatively intelligent and independent-- dating a young chef, leading a life... but I watched her morph from a respectable, carefree woman into a botoxed, desperate fashion-hag-- a true mean-girl whose trajectory took her from top to bottom of the lady-heap. Her clothing became ridiculous, her snide comments bitter and nasty, her constant style changes rivaled the Kardashians. What could she have been thinking? The reality show kiss-of-death for some who seem to compete with the kind of fierceness that eclipses character. I sided with Bethenny-the-bitch whose real life tragedies won her the sympathy vote, and Carole fell both from grace and cast. Good riddance... still no payment for all my television efforts, and an inability to separate Carole from my own real-life-nasty sister.
Oh, the fame-whores and phonies, the no-talent celebrities, the ass-kissing extras and free publicity opportunities. Who are these women? No one I would want to hang out with, except maybe Luanne-the-convict-version whose cabaret performance was entertaining in a horrific kind of way. Some of my best friends have been in prison, rehab, various institutions... almost relatable... but for the most part, an entire mockery of my New York. About as real as cartoon-Disneyworld, but not quite Thanksgiving float-worthy... Needless to say, my comments were undervalued.
But I'd been summer-bitten by the TV reality-bug.. and poor as I am, there were few evening options to distract me from the heat besides gigs. I moved onto My 600-pound Life which is truly reality-worthy and eye-opening. We in New York City rarely see this sector of population who are compensating for deep emotional wounds with food and essentially no more bloated than our local urban billionaires, just more honest. Personally, I cannot fathom how they pay for all these meals; I can hardly afford restaurant or prepared food. What I do know is the sin of gluttony seems far less heinous than the wanton greed of the 21st century corporate culture. These people wear their weakness; the Wall Streeters have personal trainers and plastic surgeons to keep them lean and mean while their investments balloon in 1200-ton portfolios.
Maybe the real reality show now is America... the Celebrity-Apprentice Presidential Candidate himself, with Kanye this week migrating from the Kardashian set to the Oval Office stage... flubbed his lines and embarrassed his audience but no apologies from the Trumpsters. Protocol, ethics, intelligence, logic, respect-- all bets are off, all clarity is blurred and justice itself is on mock-trial. Journalists and quipsters are hyper-provoked... pundits are ubiquitous and political cartoonists hemorraghing material. Endless dialogue and competitive commentary-- verbal bullying and misstatements are considerably more common than truth; little is unscripted except the pathetic presidential tweets... and let's face it-- the viewer population is way more familiar with Bravo 'anti-stars' than political candidates.
In the end, I failed miserably as a TV tweeter... earned not even subway fare for all my viewing efforts, and feel a bit slimed, as though I skinny-dipped in contaminated surf. If rap is the new poetry, 60 is the new 40, American politics is surely the new comedy... and I'm not sure where I belong. It's like I'm looking at a chessboard with Monopoly game pieces. Things are rigged and backward and ruined and even the weather for all our technology is less predictable than ever. Everyone is a follower and no one is a clear leader. I am betting that more people trick or treat than vote; however we celebrate Halloween, there seems nothing more horrifying than the Apprentice-president in the White House and his ghoulish team of clown-hearts with their golf-bags of tricks.
There are real tragedies, real victims of real disasters, real catastrophes and suffering. Not reality shows but world events... not television entertainment but life. May the better man, for God's sake, win.