Flipping through the online guide on TV the other night, I found a show called “Marriage Bootcamp.” It sounded interesting, maybe like one of those Dr. Phil type shows, about how to have a successful, long-term marriage.
Not even close.
Five minutes into the show, there were three couples screaming obscenities at each other, two of the women were bawling and wailing loudly, trying to get someone’s (anyone’s) attention, and one guy actually reached over and smacked his wife. On national television.
Every year, we get a new onslaught of reality TV shows. This has been going on for years, and I still don’t understand the attraction. At best, the plots are about hostile, unhappy, rich people living their hostile, unhappy, rich lives, with bored or abusive spouses and entitled, disrespectful children.
Our participation involves sitting on our Barco-loungers, with Cheetos and a glass of wine, to watch them live their daily lives. Talking on the phone. Driving to school. Cooking dinner. Who the hell decided this was interesting television?? At worst, these shows are politically incorrect, socially offensive, and in most cases, just plain stupid.
When selecting the worst of the worst, the sheer abundance of choices made it difficult to get them all into one post. But following are my first picks for the Worst Reality TV Shows:
- Cheaters. The unfortunate plotline here is to set up a cheating spouse to do what he/she does best, then catch them in the act on live TV (pretty much guaranteeing no hope of the marriage ever surviving the indiscretion). When your husband gets caught boinking your college roommate at your class reunion on national television, there’s not much left to talk about. Which leaves us to wonder, Why did you bother in the first place? Yes, he’s a douche, but you look nasty and mean-spirited. Retain some dignity and just quietly toss all his crap into your backyard pool. Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame, but this shouldn’t be yours.
- Are You Hot? Guys with ripped abs and beach-tousled hair, and women in 5″ stilettos and bikini tops the size of two Chiclets, all standing on the stage and being judged on how hot they are (or much for fun, how hot they aren’t). Setting aside the disturbing stereotyping of the entire female gender as the spray-tanned blonde contestant giggles her way through her assessment, Lorenzo Lamas is the Simon Cowell of the judges’ panel. Critical, narcissistic, and often just plain mean. Never mind that he hasn’t been hot since 1999. This show is too painful to watch.
- Dating Naked. Yep, you read that right. It’s similar to The Bachelor, but with no clothes. Everybody wanders around, chatting and getting to know each other, going out on dates, sharing long, intimate conversations over candlelit dinners, all while buck-ass nekkid. The theory is that along with their clothes, they also shed their “boundaries.” Ya think?? Listen up, TV people. Boundaries are there for a reason. Boundaries are good. They keep us from doing incredibly dumb things like dating naked on national television.
- The Swan. Sad, insecure women get nipped and tucked, with multiple, major surgeries, in order to look younger, thinner, and more beautiful by current cultural standards. Then it gets worse. At the end, they all come out onto the stage in a group, looking like Stepford Barbies who shared a Groupon for plastic surgery (apparently all from the same doctor). As they pose awkwardly together, they wait anxiously to be judged by the audience on whether or not they achieved their goal. My heart breaks for the poor woman who still gets heckled and criticized because her surgery stopped short of making her physically acceptable to be seen in public. I can only hope Fox pays for her therapy. No cheers for this horrible show that reinforces everything we don’t want our daughters to learn.
- Please Marry My Boy. OMG. A midlife mom pimping out her adult son. Few things leave me speechless.
- The Real Housewives [of Any County]. Apparently, lots people love these shows. I can only respond, “Are you kidding me??” Why would anyone want to sit and watch another dysfunctional, tacky, rich family yell at their kids, fight with their spouses, and whine incessantly because the pool boy was late two days this week? Unless you’re a burglar checking out the layout of the house to map out how to get in and out with the family jewels without getting caught, these shows are vapid and stupefying. If our lives are so boring that this constitutes entertainment, we seriously need to get out more.
- My Super Sweet 16. This one just pisses me off. Entitled, self-centered teens get the birthday party of their dreams. While the birthday girl whines and complains all day, criticizing everyone’s efforts and treating the overpriced caterer like crap, then bursting into tears because the flowers are the wrong shade of pink, Mom is scrambling to the flower store to replace the hideous ones she paid a thousand dollars for earlier that morning. To smooth things over, young Bethany is later handed the keys to a Shelby, as long as she promises to “drive carefully, don’t have other teenagers in the car, and don’t text while driving.” Uh-huh. Before the party is over, Miss Bethany and her eight-girl posse will tumble out of her new car, wearing their do-me dresses, flashing their fake IDs and their woo-hoos, to dance it up until 2 a.m. at the local nightclub. I can only wonder what Bethie’s wedding will be like. Maybe she’ll let Dad sell the Shelby.
- Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? (My favorite.) It defines everything that’s wrong with reality TV. A group of unabashed gold-digging women who compete with each other, with zero concern for fairness or social niceties, for an uber-rich man willing to marry a self-professed money tramp whom he’s only known for five minutes. And he’s as excited as she is. (Where do they find these people??) When he finally makes his selection, an over-the-top, expensive, romantic wedding is held, where the couple promises to “love, honor, and cherish each other til’ death do them part,” in front of the entire country. (My brain is starting to hurt.) A recent season ended up with the groom flunking his belated criminal background check and the bride dumping his loser ass, and had the marriage annulled after only a week. Afterwards, she posed in (and out) of her wedding dress for Playboy. I heard she married the photographer, who reportedly owns a small island in the South of France. It’s been a month and they’re still together. There’s an office pool somewhere on the longevity of this union. I want in.
And now I’m going down the hall to watch all three seasons of Mayberry, R.F.D., with Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Ron Howard. Now that’s good TV.