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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Renewed Advocacy for Unreal TV: Santa Claus is not Comin' to Town

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This roughly 1,000th post on Unreal TV being apt regarding the inaugural March 2012 inaugural post/manifesto and this update coinciding with Christmas is a blessing and a curse. The blessing relates to the recent presidential campaigns and the widespread dread regarding a Trump presidency making the call for escapist "unreal," rather than reality, more relevant than ever. The curse is that the state of our union is not any better than its status nearly five years ago.

The principle on which Unreal TV is based is that the often rotten state of our divisive culture in the United States since the late '60s screams for the quality silly shows of that era through the end of the 20th century that currently deserve a place on the endangered species list. Even most of the few sitcoms of today mostly rely on edge, crude humor, or very tired concepts. Anyone with half a brain can easily predict EVERY punchline on "Two Broke Girls" and "The Big Bang Theory." 

One purpose of programs that are designed to entertain is to allow viewers to forget the outside world for a short while. Watching classic (and not so classic) shows on DVD further enhances this immersion experience. 

It is no coincidence that Sunday nights programming historically is very silly and entertaining; this helps the frame of mind of folks dreading the beginning of the work week. Similarly, the "Must-See" sitcoms on roughly 20 years of NBC Thursday night programming both provided something to which to look forward all week and to make it through Friday.

In contrast, the reality shows that currently pollute the airways (and are largely responsible for PRESIDENT Trump) commit the twin sins of being combative and competitive. Every contestant is out to beat his or her rivals (and often stoop to low tactics in the process). On top of this, the judges typically bicker among themselves. One need not look beyond their own lives to find these elements, and the aforementioned presidential campaign shows that EVERY candidate is the same as virtually every person who is desperate to stay in the public eye and not be exiled to a peace conference ala a misbehaving Power Ranger in the '90s.

A personal attempt to be polite and sit through a two-hour "American Idol" episode while a guest in the home of a friend in roughly 2012 illustrates the above points. A spoiler is that massively losing one's "stuff" an hour in put a damper on the evening.

The judges droning on and on and on and on making the same points about the performances that were obvious to anyone with even the slightest ear for music can determine for himself or herself was the tip of the iceberg.

Sharing the observation that winning a 12-week (?) contest does not entitle one to the status of idol was the next stage. Recalling stories of the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Police, et al playing THEIR OWN MUSIC in countless small dingy clubs before hitting it big accentuated this point. 

Hearing the never-ending sob stories, which are recalled as separately involving a mother dying of cancer and a sibling being a Desert Storm casualty. prompted the first round of true ranting, The nature of these remarks, which included copious language that would make a sailor blush, was that these people deserved sympathy but that those experiences had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with their singing ability. 

The final straw was a home movie of a contestant playing the drums (possibly a guitar) when he was roughly five years old. This REALLY had no place in the show. I believe that we turned off the television at this point.

On a larger level, your not-so-humble reviewer observed early in the show that the nature of the "Idol" voting was subject to the mother of all rigging in the form of a record company that wanted a contestant to win to email company employees to ask that they vote for that contestant and to ask everyone in their lives to do the same. This was several months before the scandal regarding a record company handing out cell phones at viewing parties for the purpose of having their favorite win.

It is undisputed that the powers-that-be stole several pages from the record company playbook in hacking computers, having the numbers of votes exceed the number of registered voters, etc.

The ultimate question for folks who are still reading this updated manifesto is whether you feel better watching whichever genuinely entertaining sitcom or light action-adventure show is your "poison" then you do watching the people who remind of the idiot in the next office who spends all day gabbing, the neighbor who spends every Sunday blasting classic rock while he works on his car, your cousin who is always wrong but never admits it, etc.? 

Anyone with CIVIL comments regarding the above thoughts is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.