I participate in an online survey program–I like to give my opinion, and I like giving my opinion more so when I am compensated for it. I was sent a survey asking me to watch an episode of a new television program, and for watching it and answering some questions about it, I would be paid ten dollars. Ten dollars!? To watch TV? I’m in!
The show was called “Smothered”, about two sets of grandparents battling over who gets to spend the most time with their granddaughter. As the laugh track chimed in over a joke so stale a decade-old Saltine would be more palatable, I suddenly realized this ten dollars would be very hard-earned. “Very” may not have been an appropriate word. “Excruciatingly” strikes a bit closer to the mark. The show opens on Gillian and Zack, a married couple who have recently had a daughter. Gillian does not seem particularly interested in either her daughter or Zack, and Zack is portrayed as an effeminate, ineffective parent who calls his wife “dude”. (This pronouncement was met with riotous laughter from the no-doubt canned audience.) Gillian’s parents are introduced as down-home good-old Christian country folk, and Zack’s parents are portrayed as upper-crust Jewish socialites who think nothing of long vacations in France. Oh ho ho, everyone! Look, it’s an odd couple! This has never been done before in the history of television! Neither set of grandparents seems to particularly like their own children, but fight over time with the granddaughter, who is essentially ballast. Emotion and personality-free, she could be anything–a doll, a purebred puppy, or even a particularly nice rock. She is a prop intended to demonstrate just how zany and wacky the adults around her are, one set of which sneaks her off to a church to have her christened against her parents’ wishes, and the other set of which had a secret Jewish baby-naming ceremony. There is also a dull sister named Susie who solely exists as a point of universal loathing by all family members. It’s all about scoring points in an attempt to hurt the other set of grandparents, and all of this would be just fine if only it were funny. I can laugh at mean jokes with the best of them, but there was only one joke in the entire episode which made me laugh aloud, an offhand line about serving pork on a Jewish holiday and calling it “Hamukkah”. The rest of the jokes drew rolled eyes and groans, and even an amount of writhing in my seat like a small child, desperately wanting it all to be over so I could get to the survey portion and unleash the seething hatred building within me toward everyone involved in the production of this show. And lo, how my hatred flowed. I hated the music. I hated the characters. I hated the plot. I found them all unrealistic and unrelatable. (There was no option for “I hoped a plane would crash into the set.”) Had I found myself in their unenviable situation, I would have crammed the child back into myself and started phoning around for abortion deals.
And after all this, my time spent watching the show, and my time answering questions about which characters I might like to see more of (none) and which characters I might like to see less of (all), I was informed that the number of survey participants had been reached already and I would not be receiving my ten dollars.
I want my ten dollars. I paid, cast of Smothered. Oh, how I paid.
Your bill is in the mail.
Recently, Comcast upgraded the lines in the area to fiber optic. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I added a phone line I’ll never use and a buttload of TV channels and somehow will save $30 a month. In surveying this new kingdom of channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I happened upon one of the best and worst and saddest things I have ever seen in my life: Bridalplasty.
The premise of Bridalplasty is simple, yet mind-boggling: a group of brides-to-be live in a home together to compete to win the perfect wedding…and also to win plastic surgeries off their wish list in order to become perfect themselves. You heard me. This right here is why other countries hate the United States. Just saying.
This is how E! describes it:
Each week, a group of women competes head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her “wish list.” She’s given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week’s episode.
One by one, the women are voted out by their competitors and, according to the show’s description, “possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride.”
The last bride standing will receive a “dream wedding,” where she will reveal her new appearance to friends, family and the groom. “Viewers will witness his emotional and possibly shocked reaction as they stand at the altar and he lifts her veil to see her for the first time following her extreme plastic surgery,” E! said.
…and yet somehow, it’s gays that are ruining the concept of marriage? I will love and cherish you forever, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…but not with that nose. Nuh-uh. Or, for that matter, that icky divot on your forehead that I have to look at every time I kiss you. I love you, but there are limits, woman!
Except it’s not the men asking that the women they love live up to some unattainable standard, that they make themselves somehow more appealing to the male gaze, it’s the WOMEN. Already beautiful women with cripplingly low self esteem knocking themselves on camera in front of the men who already love them enough to make a lifetime commitment to them despite these supposed flaws. Universally, the men looked embarrassed and uncomfortable. They expressed that they loved these women the way they are, and equally universally, the women could not accept these statements as fact, laughing them off or continuing to insist that they’re a quarter troll on their mom’s side and half goat on their dad’s side.
And then there’s the whole, "I am going to get an asston of plastic surgery and you, who are making a lifetime commitment to me, will not see my brand new face until the day of our wedding, so hey, surprise, I always wanted to be a tiger-woman! How do you like my cheek implants? My whiskers are fiber optic!"
So, the premise of the show is horribly wrong, and the reality of the show is even worse. One bride-to-be moaned that her fiance has been deployed to Iraq for months and he was finally coming home the day she left to go do the show, and that "I think I’ll always regret not being at the airport to welcome him home." Because, you know, the opportunity for televised plastic surgery was way more important, right? Another of the brides-to-be was appalled that another had to pawn her ring to fix her car "because it shows she doesn’t value nice things." It’s easier to value nice things when you can call the first bank of daddy to fix every problem, right? When all of the competing women were introduced, they also went over their plastic surgery wishlists with a ‘plastic surgeon to the stars’, who augmented them by taking a marker to their naked bodies and saying "Well, you need liposuction here…and here…and here…and all through here…and here…and here…and back there…and up here, also, you have the perfect breasts….for augmentation surgery" until they looked like one large connect-the-dots puzzle. It was horrifying.
And then they got to the first challenge–the girls had to assemble a puzzle of what they might look like after becoming the perfect bride over a picture of what they look like now, as clearly hideous swine-women. If they’re among the first ten brides to complete the challenge, they win a syringe and get to attend an "exclusive injectables party" (I swear I am not making this up). One of the last two will be voted off, and the other’s punishment for not being great at puzzles is to just watch everyone else get happily stuffed with botox and god knows what else. The first bride-to-be to assemble her puzzle shrieked, grabbed her syringe and ran with it downstairs yelling "I’m so stoked! Let’s take care of my buttface!"
I’m so stoked.
Let’s take care of my buttface.
But still the worst was yet to come. Because the bride-to-be who was voted off was ushered off the program with "Your wedding will go on…it just might not be perfect."
WHAT. Better just call the whole thing off, then! God knows if it’s not a perfect wedding with a perfectly plastic bride, it doesn’t stand a chance. Love and commitment and honesty and hard work–that doesn’t have shit to do with marriage. Look at your successfully married hostess, Shanna Moakler! ….whoops.