Oh television, sweet television, TV, oh teevee, how I do love your mystical blue light, your comforting bedtime stories, and the constancy you offer me day in and day out You are the modern-day cave and campfire, the projection and illumination of our culture and one of my favorite hotel rendezvous partners. I've showered you with the best premium channels money can buy, and except for those brief years when my children were young and I forsook you to be a writer-in-the-woods, I've been true to you. But can we say the same of you?
To paraphrase the wise and illustrious Annie Lennox: Television, have you lied to me, honey? Honey, have you lied?
Jay Black at TV 101 thinks so. He recently asserted that TV is a big ol' lying McLiar, down to every last reality show. Which is fine with him, because television is an excellent escape from our real lives. However, he writes:
TV's lies only become a problem when we try to measure our own lives against them. So, let's outline some of the bigger lies TV tells in the hope that by doing so I can both make the average TV watcher feel better about themselves and also fulfill the requirements of my court-ordered community service.
Black lists the following as the 5 Lies TV Tells Us:
1. You should stand up to your bullies. (Well, it worked for Peter Brady!)
2.Raising a kid in no way affects your lifestyle. (Think Friends, a show that also told us some lies about New York rental property.)
3. It's possible to remove yourself from the "Friend Zone." (Black writes, "Any girl who has had to sit through a 'can we take this relationship to the next level' conversation can blame TV shows like 'The Big Bang Theory' for giving nerdy males the false promise of sex being the 'just friends' endgame.")
4. A mixed group of men and women can remain friends after two (or more) pair off sexually. (I would add that TV lies about this to the L Word demographic, too. If my friends tried to switch it up like they did, my town would explode like Jiffy Pop foil.)
5. People are generally competent at their jobs. (Crime solved! Mystery disease identified! Confession pried from the felonious sociopath in two minutes flat, great job Olivia!)
Dang it, Black is right. Once you start looking at it, there are lies all over the place. I think I just accepted that early on, when Bewitched traumatized me by switching out the actors who played Darrin without saying a word. Witches and liars! Television is full of them.
I could add a few more lies to the list:
6. If you use a wheelchair or have physical differences, "overcoming your hardship" is the focus of your every conversation. (And you are sooo inspiring!)
7. Someday, someone is going to show up and give you a new house/clean house/stay at a weight-loss ranch/new wardrobe/rose-that-means-he-will-marry-you-forever-and-ever. (Waiting!)
8. Almost all people are straight and white. Except, of course, the criminals and shopkeepers. And the sassy best gay/black/Latino friends. (Ugh.)
9. Everyone can sing! And dance! (You know what? They can't, but thanks to Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Glee, we all have many more long karaoke nights in our future. And there's no DVR to help you fast-forward through the slow bits there, bucko.)
So why do we go back to TV time and time again when it's so full of lies? Because like any yo-yo relationship, when it's good, it's so very good, I guess. You've been told some doozies by TV, too, haven't you? Poor, trusting you. Purge them here and perhaps we can commiserate. Or maybe we'll decide to ditch the bad boy altogether and put on some lovely background music for a great night of Internet surfing. Because if it's on the Internet, it must be true.
Deb Rox has only seen two episodes of Lost, but she's pretty sure that the Island is an allegory for the human body, the people are Jungian archetypes of the soul, the cave is about sexytime stuff, and the Smoke Monster is just there to mess with you. There, she said it.
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