Thursday is home to the highest-rated and most heavily hyped shows on television. Because some of last year’s new debuts didn’t make it (The New Normal, Last Resort) and a few old favorites came to the end of their run (30 Rock, The Office), many new shows are competing for our attention on this night. There’s plenty of options and something out there for almost everyone.
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One of the only things tougher than explaining to people of unquestionable cultural taste (aka the creatively unambitious) that you’re a fan of professional wrestling is explaining that you’re a fan of women’s professional wrestling. Usually it’s possible to make a (simplified) case for the former – the spectacle, the physicality, the choreography, the history – that even the most rigidly dull defender of good taste can understand. Explaining an interest in the latter tends to be more problematic. Enjoying pro wrestling might be seen as an endearing quirk, but also being a fan of women’s pro wrestling, specifically, usually goes down as well as saying that you steal underwear from unattended clotheslines. The interest is invariably seen as – to use that wonderfully old-fashioned word – prurient.
As recently pointed out by Andy Dehnart on his excellent reality TV blog, Realityblurred.com, the undoing of ABC’s recent reality diving show Splash was not the hokiness of its premise; nor the dimness of its celebrity wattage; nor even the egregiously unflattering bathing suits worn by the women. No, it was the wildly inconsistent scoring of its panel of two judges.
Film critic Tom Shales once referred to a Batman sequel as a “wanging, clanging calliope from hell”. I often get the same impression from television ads, as I fumble for my remote’s ‘mute’ button before the onslaught begins. Yet every once in a great while, an ad will rise above the white noise and actually transcend the fetid swamp of commercial television. Consider the magical 90 seconds of Oreo’s “Wonderfilled” ad that debuted during a recent episode of Mad Men.
Warning: I’m about to become a prude.
As everyone knows, Seth McFarlane set off a major media fire storm with his recent Oscar telecast hosting duties. Perhaps his most “irreverent” or “offensive” moment (check your pleasure) was his musical ode to naked breasts in the movies, “We Saw Your Boobs”.
And, yes, it was silly and totally sophomoric and didn’t show a lot of respect for the purpose of the evening, but the criticism it drew for days after, to me, largely missed the bigger issue.