Voracious Cultural Consumption: Day 1

This is a sad admission, but when I get back from a trip, as I did on Thursday, I eagerly look forward to plowing through my DVR.  I consider it a triumph to clear that sucker out, not to mention the perk of having oodles of shows to choose from.  In other words, this first day was a productive one, heavy on the television:

(Be warned, I will spoil results and plot lines of recent shows. Read at your own risk)

8:43AM: Top Chef Texas

Oh, I have a film degree. And an MA in media studies. But if there is a new episode of “Top Chef” on the DVR, there is no uppity movie or high brow art film that will stand in the way of me watching this reality show as soon as humanly possible.  I love me some Top Chef.  I’ve been loyally devoted since Season 1, when they didn’t have Voltaggios interested in this contest–they had a chick fresh out of culinary school who legit made a sheet cake for one challenge, a home cook, and a natural chef who served up peanut clusters.

This season, I feel like I am watching Season 1 all over again. Do we honestly believe any of these people are of the same caliber as previous seasons?  Even after last week with the Snow White challenge where people made great food, I still feel like it is a fluke.  To me, it is a two horse race between Paul and Ed (sorry, ladies).  I would normally say just Paul, but Ed is from Kentucky, so he is automatically awesome.  And it is now a moot point, but Chris, anybody with that dumb ass ponytail and those manpris is never going to get the title “Top Chef.”

9:32AM: Project Runway All Stars

Before Top Chef became my reality BFF, I had Project Runway.  Then that awful Jeffrey Sebelia won Season 3 despite deserving to be eliminated for over half the shows (I will one day write an essay on how Kayne Gillespie, the pageant gown designer, was the victim of some serious anti-redneck classism btw).  I broke up with the show.  We had a brief fling in Season 5 when my grad school friends had people over to watch each week, but then I was done. The show bored me, even with the delightful Michael Kors, Heidi Klum, and Tim Gunn.

Yet, I decided to give this show another shot with All Stars.  People I liked back for a second shot sounded appealing (though, hello, where are Kayne, Daniel Vosovic, Michael Knight, and Kara Saun???).  Then I tuned in and leaned there was no Kors, no Heidi, and, aw hell no, no Tim Gunn??? What is so all star about a Project Runway with no stars?

I was sucked in even with the absence of my favorite parts of the show though. What this season has going for it is a set of the best challenges this show has ever seen. Design a dress for Miss Piggy? Make a gelato-inspired dress in six hours? Make an outfit at Dollar Tree?  The challenges are truly challenging and producing some really interesting and innovative work that keeps me tuning back in.

10:07AM: Hungry Girl

I don’t understand why Lisa Lillian isn’t more famous amongst my friends. Lilian aka Hungry Girl understands my interest in calorie counting.  I have zero desire to be “healthy.”  I just want to weigh less.  It is shallow, I admit it, but it is true.  So, Lillian’s recipes, which find ways for me to continue eating banana pudding and shedding pounds, are right up my alley.  I admit I breeze through these cooking shows though.  I fast forward through recipes I have no interest in, like this week’s BLT Mac and Cheese, but stop to get the gist of how I can eat four BBQ bacon-wrapped shrimp for 165 calories.  This is as close to health conscience eating as I am ever going to get.  And I am fine with that.

10:52AM: 30 Rock

Liz Lemon is back! Glory to God, she is back!  30 Rock premiered its sixth season a couple of weeks ago after being off the airwaves since May.  The show earned a mid-season birth not because it performed poorly, but because Tina Fey was pregnant. Fey’s understanding that you can’t write Liz Lemon getting pregnant into the show is why I love her.  Liz Lemon doesn’t get pregnant. She’s Liz Lemon.  And she is my hero.

She is back and this week they deal with her new beau, Criss.  Yes, no “H”, double the “S”.  I rolled the whole episode, laughing at Lemon and Jack sparring back and forth about her new guy.  Not gonna lie, I’ve been there, knowing people won’t improve of my dating choices so, once again, this show hit uncomfortably close to home in the most hilarious way possible.

11:18AM: Happy Endings

I am new on the Happy Endings bandwagon and, so far, I am enjoying this newer, slightly weirder version of friends.  The dialogue is fast and snappy, and the characters are endearingly kooky.  There is one exception though.  Penny. I hate Penny.

Penny is supposed to be the group’s brash and loud single gal (heh, sound familiar?). I just don’t enjoy the performance  by Casey Wilson.  While all six characters are a little off their rockers and weird, she is the only one of the group that rings really false to me.  Her performance feels, for lack of a better word, performative, and I am just not a fan.  I am still on board with this show though.  For every crappy scene with Penny, I get to enjoy something fun, like Damon Wayans Jr. having a beer and shooting the shit with Brent Musburger.

11:46AM: Real Housewives of DC

No, I did not DVR repeats of a now-cancelled show. I was about to head out to run an errand when I saw this was one.  It was none other than the episode dealing with Tareq and Mikaele Salahi crashing the White House State Dinner.  There are a ton of loonies in the RHO universe, but these two might be my favorite.  I mean, she ran away to be with a guitarist from Journey.  Not even a guitarist or member of Journey I’ve even heard of either!  So, when I get a chance to see these turly deluded people act deluded, I’m not going to pass it by.

1:57PM: Real Housewives of DC (Again)

It was the reunion show. So sue me.

2:11PM: Gossip Girl

After another quick fix of Salahi crazy, I got back on the DVR grind with a show I don’t think gets nearly enough love.  Yes, its plots are genuinely preposterously outlandish, but this show really does get a couple of things right.  First, these characters are compelling, even though they may do stupid and selfish things.  Second, we gotta talk about Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester).  If you go back to my Dumb Smart Girl post, you know my problem–I feel like a girl on TV can never be truly smart and truly feminine and appealing.  What I forgot was Blair Waldorf.  This chick is smart. She doesn’t apologize for being smart either.  And she is being rewarded by becoming the Princess of Monaco via marriage (like I said, outlandish).

The other thing this show gets right is that it doesn’t listen to all the crazy ‘shippers on the interweb.  Like many fans, I think a relationship with Dan and Blair, two characters that hated each other for several seasons, makes a lot of sense.  But, rather than abandon Waldorf’s established relationships with her Monacan prince and longtime paramour Chuck Bass to pursue a Dan/Blair relationship that will please some, but infuriate others, they just continue to tease us with the possibility in thoroughly entertaining ways.

It may be campy and a soap opera, but it is a damned well-constructed soap opera.

3:07PM: Revenge

And so I turned to my other delightfully well-constructed campy soap opera, Revenge.  If you haven’t watched this show, please do, if only for Madeline Stowe.  Please, think of Madeline Stowe.

5:40PM: Republican Debates on CNN

I had to watch something while on the elliptical. Once again, Ron Paul endeared me to him even more than I thought possible. And I burned calories!

7:05PM: Drew Peterson, Untouchable

If you thought between Gossip Girl and Revenge and the Housewives and the debates that I’d gotten enough camp and over the top behavior in my day, you would be wrong.  Tim, my roommate, very kindly waited until I got home to watch the Lifetime made for TV movie about the cop with a penchant for murdering his young, inexplicably attractive wives.

Tim couldn’t fathom how a pretty girl played by Kaley Cuoco could fall for someone as creepy and old as Peterson (Rob Lowe).  Even I had to agree, admitting, “I have thought Rob Lowe was about the hottest thing ever since 1994, but I am weirdly repelled by him in this and I don’t like it one bit.”

While he may not have been hot, Lowe was hysterical, as was this very tongue in cheek movie.  Sometimes when you are going for camp and that so bad it is good vibe, it is tough to pull it off, but Lifetime knows what its audience needs, and its audience needs Lowe referring to himself and his member as “Big Daddy”, they need a cast full of people with inconsistent and over the top accents, and they need to end the movie with Lowe stripping down to his skivvies doing a sexy dance before getting searched by two police officers.

Bless you Lifetime, bless you.

9:21PM: 30 Rock (Again)

Being Thursday, we had a new 30 Rock to enjoy and decided, “Why not?”  Then we realized there were two.  I echo the sentiments of a lot of pop culture writers on the web today when I say that this show may have gotten a bit tired last season, but it is right back on course this season with four hilarious episodes.

11:00PM: Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

I was still on East Coast time and fairly exhausted, so I wrapped up my day with a chunk of the third book in the Millenium trilogy.  I think it might be my favorite of the three.  The pacing picks up, there aren’t too many wtf Mikael Blomquist sexapades to deal with, and I always love a good courtroom drama.

And after roughly 385 minutes (6 and a half hours) of television watching and 30 minutes buried in a book, I called it a night.

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