The Other Great TV Shows

Originally published on Pop-Rock Candy Mountain

Thanks for hanging in there with me, through all the ups and downs of my blogging career. I know I got kind of annoying there for a while with my paranoia (justified but still…) that the 2008 election would be subverted by the Karl Rove-bots and we’d be left with the covertly ambitious Sarah Palin as our VP.

I raced home from work to begin my relaxing night of watching election returns. I got in my pajamas and made myself a hot toddy (I had a cold.) Just as I was settling in for a long night, Chris Matthews announced that he had an announcement to make. And then it happened…my DVR switched the channel and started recording a repeat of Entourage. (This is my fiancée’s fault. He tapes the show. But I own the Sex & the City movie so, we’re both equally terrible.)

I furiously scrambled with the remote control and my DVR was insistent that I watch Entourage. After what seemed like five hours but was really sixty seconds, I got my TV back to MSNBC. I saw crowds literally dancing in the streets of New York City. For a moment I thought I had entered a time warp and it was New Years Eve. Nope. It was just America celebrating the election of our first black President and our first Democratic president in eight years. I was watching the credits of Entourage while the rest of the world had that moment – that one moment in time that I’ll never get back. I began yelling, “Entourage? The results of the most historic election in American history and I miss it because of freaking Entourage?” My neighbors yelled, “Shut up!” They must be either fans of Entourage or fans of celebrating Obama’s wine without my whining.

Now that I’m not watching pundit predictions 24/7 I’m adding a few more flakes of flavor into my TV-watching stew. And I want to tell you about some of my favorite shows on TV. I know that 30 Rock and The Daily Show and Real Time and all the other great shows are the best shows on TV. But I’m talking about the other best shows on TV. And here they are.

Ruby, Sundays at 8pm on The Style Network.

Ruby is a four-hundred-something pound woman who is putting her struggle to lose weight with a new training and diet program on TV. Ruby is constantly joking around about how she can’t sit without her ankles filling up with fluid, her sleep apnea, her inability to stand for too long. My husband-to-be covers his eyes and groans when I watch this show because he can’t stand her flip attitude towards her possible early death due to obesity. But I find her fascinating to watch. If you log on to the show’s message boards the average viewer seems to take Ruby’s sense of humor at face value. They log on and thank her for laughing through all of this. Not to knock my fellow-Ruby watchers but if you have a little more intellectual curiosity than your average message-boarder, you can see that Ruby is in serious emotional pain and her constant joking is a huge way for her to distract herself and whoever she’s talking to from really getting close to her sadness.

And the best part of the show is her nephew Jim. I can’t tell if he’s gay or just Southern. If I were a betting woman, I’d peg him as gay. In the first episode he explains, very quickly and with a strange smile on his face that he lives with Ruby. His parents can’t have him living at home because….he’s allergic to their cat. And I’m supposed to accept immediately that it’s normal for parents to choose a cat over their teenage boy who is now being left to be homeschooled by Ruby and her (seemingly gay) other male roommate, her childhood friend. I hope she loses the weight and I hope that Jim moves to New York City and gets a spin-off reality show called Gay Southern Guy in The Big Apple.

Celebrity Rehab, Thursdays at 10pm on VH1

Lots of people ask me how I can love this show when really isn’t it just D-list actors exploiting themselves? No. Where else are you going to hear Rodney King’s side of the L.A. beating story? Who else is going to give Gary Busey a platform for his Busey-isms? – like FAITH – Fabulous-Adventures-In-Trusting-Him. Where else can I learn that Tawny Kitaen’s real name is Julie? The failed reality TV show, Sons of Hollywood didn’t showcase Rod Stewart’s son as anything but a tail-chasing jerk. On Celebrity Rehab we see him calling his fellow rehab-mates “beautiful” and giving many same-sex back massages.

And don’t get me started on Dr. Drew. Not only does he have surprisingly great biceps but he’s brilliant. He’s no Dr. Phil. When Drew nods and looks concerned for you – he means it. And he doesn’t yell at anyone with a catch phrase like “What were you thinking?”

The show definitely does not glamorize drug use but it does make me want to live in a communal place where every morning I’m woken up for morning exercises and group therapy. How cleansing to bawl before 9 a.m. with a group of new acquaintances and cozy chenille blankets.

Admittedly, it’s hard to watch Jeff Conaway contemplate suicide and walk around bent at the waist with a cane. I was so in love with him when he was Bobby on Taxi. I’m wondering if someone in that rehab center could just show him my favorite episode of Taxi where he loses a role on a soap opera but decides to remain a struggling actor anyway. Would Jeff come back to life if he could see a DVD of his once-feathered hair and tight jeans? It might be something for Dr. Drew to consider if Jeff tries to leave again.

And finally,
The Pick-up Artist, Sundays at 10pm on VH1
My friends ask me, how can a loudmouth feminist like you, like this show? I don’t think there is anything wrong with picking up women at bars. Have you met women who go to bars to hook up? That’s what they want. No one is there to discuss Tolstoy. Sure, the methods are a little cookie-cutter and it seems as though the message is that if you are a little fresh to a woman and dazzle her with a few magic tricks that she’s putty in your arms, but, um, these women on the show…respond that way and it’s fascinating to watch.

Being a comedian, I’m often around nerdy dudes and I’ve had a few hit on me. The painful part is when a shy guy is hitting on you but he’s somehow doing it so badly that the girl ends up doing all the work and wanting to leave at the same time. Painfully nerdy guys need to learn how to talk to girls so that at least the girls are entertained while being put in an awkward position. And if wearing a feather boa, and black nail polish and starting conversations with a group of girls with lines like, “Did you know Elvis dyed his hair?” works for these loveable geeks, great.

Okay, now I’m going to obsessively flip between the cable news networks until someone tells me if Hillary Clinton accepted the Secretary of State position or not!


2 responses to “The Other Great TV Shows

  1. Jen, Jen, Jen! You’re back! I’m so glad! And it’s good to know that there is at least one other person on Earth who, when she looks at Jeff Conaway, immediately remembers Bobby Wheeler and is deeply, deeply sad. How do YOU feel about his girlfriend?

  2. Oh, Christine his girlfriend is a mess and even if she gets sober – they should not be together. She is a pyscho co-dependent.

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