Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Lessons from bad television
Vail, CO Colorado
Have you ever had one of those realizations that you’ve just lost a segment of your life you’ll never get back? That it’s just gone, dissipated with nothing to show for it?
It happened to me a couple weeks ago, and I can’t shake the feeling it left me with.
I spent one of my first days off of work after the holidays catching up on everything, getting myself back into normal everyday life – I put away Christmas, I cleaned, I went to the grocery store and ran all the other errands I had put off for the previous six weeks.
And then I stopped moving. Big mistake. Once the momentum was interrupted, I could not have moved if my life depended on it.
I found myself immobile on the couch with only enough energy to reach for the remote control. At that moment, it would have been impossible to read, what with all that exhausting page turning. Sodoku would have required brainpower and I didn’t seem to have any of that. TV was what I needed. Mindless entertainment coming at me that only required me to lie there and absorb it.
My intention had been to watch the backlog of shows I had Tivo-ed in the weeks leading up to holidays. I never made it there.
I turned on the TV and it was on the Bravo channel, having recorded an episode of Top Chef the night before. The show on the screen was one of the “Real Housewives of Wherever” series.
The premise is that the show follows “real housewives” in particular areas (Atlanta, New York, Orange County, New Jersey, Beverly Hills) and chronicles their lives and relationships. And by “real” I mean those living in affluent neighborhoods in their respective cities with cameras and producers creating scenarios for them to “live” their lives.
I’m not sure my reaction was what the creators of the show had in mind when they pitched the show. Were they going for disbelief? Shock? Disgust? Dismay? Maybe they were and it worked, because I was unable to take my eyes off the TV. I sat enraptured by something so disturbing I couldn’t look away. A train wreck in Gucci.
I could not believe what I was watching. I was horrified at the way these women treated each other, the way they regarded their husbands, the things they said about other people. Some of them had such skewed views on life that I actually found it sad.
And it wasn’t just the scenarios and interactions that I found so disturbing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the faces of a couple of these women. I kept watching to see if I could catch them changing their expressions. They were so Botoxed, they constantly looked as if they were watching an uninteresting movie, regardless of what was going on around them. The words they were saying indicated that they were mad or elated or frustrated, but their faces didn’t match the words. They didn’t move.
One woman in particular made me stare in a way that my mother told me was rude. She had clearly had so much plastic surgery that her face looked unnatural, contorted, sort of a blond Michael Jackson with over-inflated lips.
In one scene, she and her husband were deciding to give away the puppy they had given their young daughter because they had just discovered she was allergic to it. Her voice was breaking up, she said she was heartbroken, and yet the only visual cue was that tears were forming in her eyes that she carefully dabbed away with a Kleenex so as not to run her heavy makeup. It was unnerving to watch.
I won’t admit exactly how long I watched the back-to-back episodes, but let’s just say I wasted enough time on something so ridiculous I felt like I’d done something wrong. I long to get back that time I lost and to erase the disturbing images from my brain. But, alas, I cannot.
However, it has prompted me to make several vows to myself. To always speak kindly to others. To turn off the TV if something isn’t worthy of my time. And to make sure my face can always convey my message, wrinkles be damned. So, Real Housewives, I thank you for that.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org