Tuesday, June 26, 2018

TV: Whose standards?

Us, we blame Doris Day.

It was March 20, 1973.  She issued a statement to explain she was done with her CBS sitcom after five years.  Five very unfunny years.  Five very awful years.   Five years when she never delivered one honest laugh.  Five years where sometimes she was a widow with two kids and sometimes she was a single woman with no kids and she apparently never really had a female friend.

Some will say, “That’s pre-THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.”  Yes, Mary Richards had Rhoda and Phyllis (among others).  Equally true, Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura had Millie as a best friend on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.  And that was long before THE DORIS DAY SHOW.  And Lucille Ball had Vivian Vance in I LOVE LUCY, THE LUCY SHOW and HERE’S LUCY.

THE DORIS DAY SHOW never knew what it was.  But it was based on one lie after another including the lie that Doris had no idea she was going to do a TV show until after her husband died.  No, Doris knew.  And had spoken of it publicly prior to her husband’s death.   What she didn’t know was how to do a funny show.

So after five years – most of them riding on Lucille Ball’s back – Doris finally packed it in and did so with a huffy statement about how TV didn’t just need to be about fluff.

a new illst


Did Doris think she was doing fluff?

Because she  wasn’t.  She was doing dull and boring.  She was doing half-assed.  She was chasing whatever she thought would make a hit.  Doris made many solid films.  In terms of TV, she did many great specials.  But in terms of a weekly series, she was a failure.


There’s nothing wrong with fluff.  It’s HART TO HART, for example.  It’s MOONLIGHTING.  It’s escapism and usually depends a great deal upon chemistry between the leads. 

TAKE TWO is fluff.  And we mean that as a compliment.  We were asked by an ABC suit, “How much do you hate it?” 


We were told “everyone” hates it.

We’ve only seen the first three episodes but we actually loved it.  Rachel Bilson is charming as an actress who is having career issues and thinks she found a way to help (by being a private investigator).  Her help is not especially appreciated by Eddie Cibrian as the private investigator. 

The two are charming.  The series is charming.  So why is it being attacked so?

Because it’s fluff?  There’s nothing wrong with good, escapist programming.

Doris Day, again, would’ve been better off doing fluff.

If “everyone” hates the show, that concerns us.  (We’re taking the suit at his word on the critical reaction.) 

Not only is there nothing wrong with fluff, there is something troubling about programming of late.
A periodical e-mailed us a few years back that they were going to show us (Ava and C.I.)  (and “show you up”) how it was done.  It being television criticism.  They informed us that their website would now feature a feminist doing a feminist critique.  Excuse us, doing “the feminist critique.”  We were told we were being challenged.

The man, yes, it was a man, who e-mailed seemed to think we would want to compete with someone else.

Not really.

First of all, we’re pretty secure with our place online.  Second, we do “a” feminist critique, not “the” feminist critique.  We don’t believe there’s one feminist critique.  By offering our take, we’re participating in the dialogue and we’re eager for other feminists to join in.  We need to be sure women are included in the TV canon such as it is.  Women have been trail blazers in front of the cameras and behind them, writers, show runners, you name it. 

So we really weren’t offended that another woman would be doing a feminist critique.  We were excited and had plans to read her but there’s this thing called life that prevented us from reading every one of her critiques.  We found a lot of what she offered of great interest.  But not all.


How was it a feminist show?

Now it could be.  And she said it was.  But we didn’t see how it was. 

We also were bothered by the need to applaud the show in any way at all.  It’s about a cannibal.
FAMILY GUY, this past season, had an episode that dealt with criticism of the show (including criticism we’d leveled).  It’s not ‘edgy’ (not one of our criticisms).  So in one scenario, Peter’s in debt and told that he’s dying and he kills someone and . . . eventually they need Meg who has a disorder on the autism spectrum.  In another one, Peter becomes transgender. 

That truly was the best episode of FAMILY GUY, one that is Emmy worthy.  (In the episode, they’re competing for an Emmy.)

It wasn’t just funny (though it was hilarious), it was also a commentary on what the Water Cooler Set seems to be demanding.

ABC’s WICKED CITY?  We’re still scratching our heads over how that made it on air to begin with.  “A new form of depravity!”  Did someone pitch it that way. 

We’re not prudes.    We have no problem with skin showing.  We have no problem with foul language.  We do have issues with gratuitous violence and that does include WICKED CITY and

We saw nothing feminist in HANNIBAL.  Doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, but we didn’t see it.  We saw a vile and disgusting show about kidnapping and murdering and corrupting people.  It was pretty much a snuff series.

And this got praised.  But TAKE TWO is a problem?

It’s a romantic comedy.  And we’re reminded of what Meryl Streep rightly noted about ROTTEN TOMATOES – male defined.  But here’s where she was wrong.  It’s not just the men.  The Water Cooler Set, as we’ve long noted, includes a lot of females who run with the male pack.  They seem to enjoy tearing women apart – think of any of the many actresses they’ve savaged – especially ones who do romantic comedies.

We’re thrilled with various procedurals and dramas led by characters with ticks.  But we also think a fluffy romantic comedy has a place on TV – especially when it’s well done and TAKE TWO is very well done.  Rachel and Eddie have great chemistry.  It’s a real shame that, in 2018, we’re letting a male defined standard exist instead of challenging it. 

That’s our feminist take.  Not “the” feminist take.  As for the periodical and their HANNIBAL loving feminist, she packed it in rather quickly.  A lot of women tend to.  We’re not sure why.  We’ve insulted Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey and faced the angry mob over that.  For example, from May 2005:

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey apparently lack shame, as well as talent.

After the sense of perspetive/sacrifice died, the second casuality of the night was John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the USA." Previously a driving rock and roll salute to the pleasures of roots rock became, as sung by Simpson and Lachey, about as "gritty" as the Care Bears.

While name checking various sixties roots rock heroes, Nick Lachey, looking like a deer frozen in the headlights, stumbled past names such as Mitch Ryder until landing on "and don't forget James Brown" with a goofy smile plastered on his face suggesting that a light bulb had finally lit up.

Simpson's been dubbed the dumb one of this pair but we'd have to call it an even draw.

As the "special" continued, the entertainment casualities continued to pile up, far too many to mention. (Maybe Nightline can do a special on that?) But among the more noteable fatalities would have to be Simpson's laughable attempt to cover Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking." While stamping across the stage and sticking out her nothing to brag about ass,
Simpson managed to chirp each word correctly even while never demonstrating that she had the first inkling as to what the song was actually about. It was as though you were watching a five-year-old scuffle around in Mommy's high heels.

Which is puzzling when you consider another fatality -- "God Bless America." Who knew it was an ode to orgasms?

Watching little Jessie wet her lips and tousle her mane (as a person she makes a great little pony), we were left to wonder what that or heaving bossoms had to do with either God or a country. Simpson apparently learnt the song at Our Lady of Lap Dance.

Which isn't to suggest that Nick Lachey wasn't racheting up his own entertainment body count.
We'd suggest that you have to be truly ignorant of all music genres to attempt a rap in the midst of a country song. Determined to get some "kills" of his own, Lachey proceeded to do just that.  While wearing, it should be noted, what appeared to be more mascara than Kip Winger and Peter Frampton combined. Boy George would have told Nick the make up was "over done."

Equally jaw dropping was the realization that Lachey thought he was cribbing Elvis Presley's pelvis thrusts. If that's Nick's idea of a pelvic thrust, don't expect children in their near future.

Throughout he repeatedly name checked Simpson, never forgetting to mention that she was his wife. Not even the narrator of "Wedding Bell Blues" was so obsessed with marriage! But then it's apparently his only claim to fame so pushing it was in his best interest and reminded the the troops why he was on stage in the first place.

Interwoven between stage patter (really bad stage patter) and the occassional song, Lachey and Jessica would try to do things. One time Jessica Simpson attempted to practice shooting. She had to stop because the kick from the rifle was too much. Tour of Duty? Then Lachey wanted to look the doofus (or maybe he can't help that) and put on the special padding used to train attack dogs. Considering that Abu Ghraib is far from a distant memory, that might not have been such a wise choice.

We survived their mini-mob that grabbed torches over the above.  We’ve survived Danny Schechter’s nasty e-mails attacking us for refusing to praise Ike Turner as a person.  When Turner passed, we didn’t attack his musical contributions.  We did note that he terrorized Tina Turner.  That’s what he was, a terrorist.  He beat her, he put her in the hospital repeatedly.  Sorry, we’re not going to cry over the death of Ike.

And he insulted us and called us “man haters” and so much more nonsense.  Because we wouldn’t cry that a terrorist died.


That’s the word for someone like Ike Turner.

And as feminists, all the men in the world can whine (and the women who run with them can join in the whining) and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to us.  Feminism is telling the truth.  Feminism is splitting the world wide open with our truths -- as Ruth Rosen has noted many times.

The one who packed it in?  We don’t know why she did.  But we doubt she was trying to be us or competing with us.  She had her own voice and that’s also what feminism is about – multiple voices, multiple conversations, sharing, learning, rethinking.  It’s a process that we go through forever.  It’s not a finish line so there’s really no competition with any other women.  That seems to have been missed in the male defined world as well.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }