Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Embarrassing TV I'm Watching

Christ I'm terrible at updating this thing. What I need is some kind of deadline to make me sit down and update at least once a week. Let's randomly say Thursdays, because, um, that's today. And most of the TV week is done.

So here we go. This is where I admit to watching some TV shows that would disgust the more discerning viewer. But, hell, sometimes you need a break from the dramatic and the scripted; a chance to delve into the mundane and the stuff that "other people" watch and enjoy (She says as she polishes her monocle and sniffs down her nose at the little people).

These are the shows that aren't completely horrible, or disgusting. They're just bad. Bad, but highly entertaining. And which I enjoy, albeit with a little sense of shame that comes when I think that I shouldn't be watching this. That watching this only encourages "them". But which I watch (heh) loyally.


America's Next Top Model

After a disastrous season last year (the "short" season, in which, hilariously, the winner was 5'6" because PETITE MY FOOT) that almost made me renounce this show, Tyra and her posse of demons is back with a vengeance. They managed to do this mostly by doing three things--three wonderful, brilliant things that have helped make this one of the most ridiculous and entertaining seasons this show has ever had. They are:

a) Bringing in Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley as a judge. This guy:

Yeah. And he ALWAYS dresses like that. He wears massive capes with giant sleeves, and tusks around his neck and this dude is batshit insane. He's hilarious, and terribly articulate, and makes truly bizarre observations such as: "You give me off a vibe of something luxurious, and a woman who is used to rings, and is used to jewelery,she's used to big rooms, big men, big lovers, big houses. She's used to the good life. And the way you're seated is gorgeous!"

I love this man. The best part is that he's managed to completely upstage Tyra in levels of crazy and dramatic. And Tyra can't do a damned thing because this guy actually has power. So she shrinks in the magnitude of his insanity and it's hilarious to watch. It's like they brought back Janice Dickinson, but BETTER. I want him to stick around forever.

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

b) They pushed Jay Alexander out of the judging panel and right where he belongs: doing short, hilarious appearances where he 'teaches' the girls to do things like walk or 'show their personalities'. This guy is a great character, but only in small doses. And his interactions with Tyra were getting to be a bit too much. By putting him in the background again they made his appearances more surprising and welcome, and now I can go back to not hating him.

c) The producers of the show went out of their way to cast the most ridiculous, insane, trashy drama queens they could find in all of the USA. But for a couple of exceptions (who are boring and therefore left the show early or will leave it soon) these girls are truly horrible human beings. They screech, they fight, they instigate fights, they throw tantrums...and the best part is that they lack self-awareness. It's funny that there's still girls so delusional out there who really think that this show will get them anywhere, when not one of the winners has managed to have an actual modeling career (in fact,some of the finalists have had more success than the winners). But they're there, and they buy every word out of Tyra's mouth as if it were gospel. And oh, it's so much fun to watch. The simple truth is that at this point they producers are really digging at the bottom of the barrel for contestants, bringing in some girls who have zero chance of ever doing anything with their lives. And some girls that are just plain ugly and would never make it as models. Angelea is the perfect example, and she encapsulates everything about this show: this girl is TRASHY and really not good-looking at all. She starts fights, says ridiculous things, has delusions of grandeur. And she's a reject from a past season! Who was clearly brought back for the drama but now she's being praised by the judges! And, since Tyra loves a gimmick for a winner, I have the nasty feeling that this chick is being set up to win. Brr.

Well, that unexpectedly turned into another diatribe. I never know I have so much to say about this moronic show until I start writing about it. But, hell, it's just so much fun to watch. Even more fun to yell at the TV about how deluded the girls are. I'd feel sorry for them except that this show has had like a hundred seasons and they know exactly what they're getting into. And what they're getting into? constant humiliation, getting their expectations raised only so that the judges will have more fun in bringing them crashing down, and maybe a couple of nice photos for the portfolios they'll carry around as they try and fail to get jobs. If anything they have less of a chance of making it as models after being on this show. And they had it coming.


Moving on.

Corazon Salvaje

Now this is a little easier to explain, I think. Corazon Salvaje started out as a 1957 novel. It was pretty great actually-- set in the 19th century it was all about dashing pirates, noble families, unrequited epic love, murder, drama, romance, etc. It was the Gone With the Wind of Latin America, which means that it was a huge hit and was immediately adapted into a TV series in the 50s. Then in 1993 it was brought back in its most famous adaptation, which became an insanely huge hit not only in Latin America but all through the world (I have a Croatian friend who was a huge fan of it in the 90s when it played in her country). I remember watching it and loving it. It was all elaborate colonial costumes and epic romance, plus an outrageously handsome hero who went by the name of JUAN DEL DIABLO. Because, how much more awesome can you get?

Rawr. So, anyway, it was a giant, beloved hit of a Telenovela, probably the best ever done in Mexico.

And then they decided to bring it back last year. A new adaptation. There was of course a huge outcry at the very idea of desecrating the memory of the show, but there were some people who were into the idea. That is, until they actually saw the show. And this is what I'm watching now.

It's a tornado of Bad. The awesomely bad. It's so bad, in fact, that it needs an entirely separate post, because I have so much to say about it. So I'm going to leave that for later. Let's just say that I watch it almost every night and I'm completely in love with the horrors within it. Even my non-spanish speaking husband enjoys watching it. It's embarrassing, but oh so much fun to watch. More on that later.


I think that's it, really. I somehow thought I'd have more to file under this category, but the only other thing I watch regularly falls into the Truly Horrible category, which will be posted soon. Of course, I watch a lot more TV than this. But everything else is more sporadic than anything else. Like I'll watch Modern Family or Parks and Recreation every now and then, but while they're good they're not really shows that call for my undying devotion, for whatever reason.

There's others like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and South Park that I watch online because we don't have cable.

Then of course there's the eternal staples, watched in reruns that I've seen a hundred times before but can't get sick of. Things like The Simpsons (I'll mostly ignore new episodes, but early ones still kill me), King of the Hill (hands down my favorite animated show) and sometimes old episodes of Friends.

In addition to all that I've been watching Muneca Brava on youtube. It's this Argentinian telenovela from the early 90s that I never finished watching back then. It's pretty repetitive and sometimes terrible, but it's a lot of fun and a great time-waster.

The list would undoubtedly be much longer if we had cable. So I suppose it's a good thing after all to only have broadcast channels and not have to pay outrageous fees so I can find more ways to waste my time. Maybe when I finally get a job we can get cable, but then I'll probably have less time to waste on television. So no need, really. Plus with pretty much all shows available online or on Netflix (best thing ever or what?) there's no real need for cable.

That's it for now. Thanks for tuning in to my Bible-length dissertations of terrible TV shows. Coming up next, some more horrible confessions and a full write-up on Corazon Salvaje. You should all be watching that, by the way. Look up your Univision guides and find it. You'll have a blast, I promise.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Good and the Sort-of-Alright TV I'm Watching

Finally some inspiration has come to me and I can write an update. That's only mostly true, though. Thing is I do have a lot of posts in mind but never get around to writing them because of, you know, the crippling laziness and oh there's always so many other things to get distracted by on the internet. But I'm gonna make a special effort (yay me!) and write about a topic that will get me babbling like nothing else in the world will: television. Specifically, what I'm watching lately. I went back into my archives and found out that I'm particularly amused by my rants on shows that I loved then but hate now (Heroes is the main one) and rants on shows that are I'm still obsessing over (damn you, Lost). So maybe in a year or so I can get back to this entry and crack myself up again. It's easy to do that.

So let's usher in a long-delayed update on Stuff I'm Watching. As usual, this will be both about shows that I genuinely love because they're quality TV,and (mostly) about shows that I'm slightly embarrassed to be watching. And then there's a couple that I'm kind of disgusted about liking. And there'll be a little on shows I know I should be watching and might get around to eventually.



Final season, people. And this bastard has kept me hooked from episode one (the only other show I've ever been so loyal to was The West Wing) so I'm not about to give up now. I almost did a couple of seasons back. But it's kept me going and we're finally getting some closure; which is a good thing, considering how much of a brainfuck this show can be. Anyway, it's down to the last six episodes or so, and I'm digging it. Aside from the massive amounts of time being wasted on filler (the alternate timeline has some significance, I'm sure, but it's still boring) the show's been nicely balanced between some great action pieces and great character moments. I specially like that Kate's had her stupid ass kicked into irrelevance on the show. It's not quite as good as having her die altogether, but I'll take what I can get. And it's ALMOST OVER. It's pretty damn exciting and I can't wait to go back to the beginning and watch the whole thing over (I've watched most episodes only once) once the pressure of an ending is gone.


Because I'm a sucker for musicals and Jane Lynch. There's really no need for further explanations. This show's just so damn happy and infectious...when it wants to be. It has some problems. It does kind of get bogged down in the drama sometimes, and it suffers from the fact that the supporting characters are far more entertaining and interesting than the protagonists. It's a shame, really, as I think it would be the perfect show if it weren't for the near-constant focus on Finn and Rachel, who can get tiring pretty quickly. The other downside is that some of the songs have become so over-produced that they're hard to watch without feeling a little embarrassed. These kids have amazing, beautiful voices, and the insane auto-tuning and plastification (does that make sense?) of the songs for no other reason than it might sell more records is just irritating and completely out of place. The show is great when it's in that outrageously campy, happy place and the songs sound authentic--and whenever Jane Lynch is on screen. I just hope the supporting characters get more of a chance and the auto-tune gets dialed down.

I'd also like to add just how incredibly angry it makes me that FOX decided to move the show from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. Not only does it clash with Lost (so that I have to watch it online the next day) but it leaves Wednesdays without anything decent to watch (more on that later). It'll be better when Lost is finished, I think, but it's still a dickish move.


The Office
I just don't know about this show. The first three seasons were brilliant. Then the fourth season just kind of sucked a little bit and the fifth was pretty damn terrible. The sixth started out beautifully, and the wedding episode might've been one of the sweetest moments in TV history. I've watched it three times and cried three times. Because the show had finally gotten somewhere, and it was the perfect place. So now...what? Pam and Jim had a baby, but Jim is back to being a salesman with no real future prospects. Michael is still the same asshole he's always been, and while that might've been tolerable at the start, the fact that he hasn't changed at ALL even after all the shit that he's been through is just beyond ridiculous and implausible. NO ONE can remain such a horrible, clueless person for so long. Not after all that's happened to them. So the fact that nothing's really changing in this little world (which admittedly might be the real case in small offices but just doesn't work as well on TV) just keeps the show meandering forever, and it's just not very interesting television.

I stick with it mostly out of fierce loyalty and the knowledge that there's still gems hidden in every episode, but I find myself just barely able to watch Michael, which is just not good when he's so prominently featured in every episode. So, I don't know. I just don't love it nearly as much as I did, and it makes me sad. I think the show desperately needs an end-date. Maybe one or two more seasons, with real development and top-notch writing. And it needs to back off Michael. I really can't take much more of him anymore.

30 Rock:
I really like, but not love this show. It's good, and sometimes great, but it's not something that I can obsess about. Sometimes it's just there. Something to watch on Thursdays that's light and occasionally hilarious.

Project Runway:
I missed the last season of this show, so I think one of the main reasons I'm really enjoying this season (the 7th) is because of how much of an improvement it's been compared to the borefest that was season 5. That one had the Horrible Kinley and the Boring Leanne, who won the entire thing because everyone else was terrible.

This season's had some pretty fun contestants and really pretty dresses, with some incredibly talented, original designers on board. Of course it was also full of the mediocre and boring, the most glaring example of this being Emilio Sosa, whom I just can't stand but whom the judges love because he makes pretty and safe things. My pick for the winner is Seth Aaron who really rocks it out and has made some really awesome designs this season. Plus I can never get enough of Tim Gunn, and this season had Anthony, whom I want to take home and keep around as my best friend. There was a moment where he screamed 'ALL OVER YOUR RHINESTONES!' at a clown in the circus in his hilarious Georgia accent and I almost died from how wonderful it all was. I keep yelling it all over the house.

But the show has problems. The time restrictions on challenges are always a problem, because how can you expect these people to really rock it out with so little time available to them? Then you yell at them for sucking, but it's really your fault for rushing them? It's annoying and takes away what's really great about this show: that these are people with genuine talent who have to use it to win. But with the time restrictions all you really get is people trying to be less sucky than someone else there. And that's cheap.

So I still like this show but it'll never be as good as it was the first two seasons. I don't really know how it could improve except by changing the rules of the game. But I'll keep watching.


Check back next time, where I'll cover The Embarrassing Stuff, The Truly Horrible Stuff and the Stuff I Should be Watching and Will Someday.