Where has all the content gone? (Pt. 1)
Television without Pity was on my daily Web site round up for a long, long time in the scale of all things Internet. It had earned my interest with its witticisms, inside jokery, and insightful snark on the hodgepodge that was early 21st Century television. It was also unexpected: it’s hard to read online (studies have shown this, I swear), so it’s particularly difficult to read 13 or 14 screens’ worth of text, but for writing this funny and amusing, I did it. So did many other people. Take for example, this chunk from Grey’s Anatomy, a few seasons ago:
but I lose track of all that [Meredith's] saying when we see her and Derek in a bubble bath together. Mer seriously, seriously, seriously tries to keep Derek on track of taking things slow. It’s a good first step with the bath, guys — that’s what I do when trying to avoid hitting a home run in a single evening.
No, it doesn’t add to the synopsis per se, but it’s worth a good chuckle and it points directly at the nonsense of the show (e.g., Meredith and Dereck’s absurd relationship) while maintaining its love of what about GA is so enjoyable. In short, it prioritized what I prioritized about the shows I watched—it appreciated their strengths and guffawed at their foibles. Here’s another example, this one from the second season of House that has run on syndication something like 67,284 times since it originally aired:
Hannah denies doing drugs, but Cameron doesn’t believe her, figuring that people who lie to their girlfriends must also lie about everything ever. She shoves a tube down Hannah’s throat, and asks her whether she cares about all the painful tests Max is going through on Hannah’s behalf without knowing the truth. It’s not like Hannah can answer her with that tube in her mouth. This is like when your dentist asks your questions when she’s in the middle of cleaning your teeth. I hate that. At least my dentist isn’t yelling at me for having questionable morals, though. She does yell at me for not flossing enough sometimes, though. And, as painful as those tests Cameron is doing on Hannah are, it’s probably even more painful for her to hear one of Cameron’s Trademark Morality Lectures. I know it is for me.
I watched that scene and had some of the same responses. It’s not that I insist television be a crystalline mirror of reality, it’s that I want the plot to be believable and the characters to have consistency. I felt that I TWP was my partner in all of this. Their contributors would hammer away at unjustifiable plot points and gaps in logic.
And then, the bottom fell out. Bravo bought TWP. They insisted it wouldn’t change the content, just like Rupert Murdoch insisted his grossly conservative views wouldn’t affect his purchase of Fox News, and I think we all know how THAT turned out. And yes, Bravo in this instance became the 19th Century villain, twirling its thin mustache and snickering behind its evil cape, hiding next to the saloon doors at sunset. For TWP is now awful. Something else does suck like an Electrolux. One example, a recent Grey’s episode:
[Lexie] finally decides to wait with the sheet pulled back to show off her lovely lady lumps, and of course that is the moment that Derek, not Alex, walks in to the room. They both yelp, horrified, and as Derek flees Meredith appears in the door. Alex left ten minutes earlier (shame Derek didn’t realize that before he walked in) and when Mere asks, Lexie admits that she and Alex have been hooking up since Mere caught them the first time. She warns her little sister that Alex is emotionally like she was three years earlier and therefore totally unsuitable as a crush. Lexie tries to claim that it’s just sex with no feelings, but Mere laughs her off because she knows Lexie too well, and points out, “Your heart lives in your vagina.” Lexie tries to deny it and then, realizing that it’s futile, tells her it’s not like that this time. Mere laughs in her face about this and heads off to work.
I cannot believe that a line like “your heart lives in your vagina,” goes without any snark whatsoever. “Lovely lady lumps”? So we can have a wee bit of sexism here, but not any cutting snipe about the way Meredith talks to her sister? Nothing like “my heart lives in a two-bedroom condo but my vagina lives at the beach?” There’s nothing, nothing here but dull synopsis. I mean, sure, that’s what happened in the scene, but….
What the hell is this? This is Bravo not wanting to criticize other studios? Because it’s afraid, what, of ABC?
Wasn’t this a foreseeable tension when they bought the enterprise? It’s a Web site that puts down television shows! For the love of Pete!
It goes without saying that I pulled this from my regular reading queue. It’s not that the writing is bad, but it’s like hanging out with a friend after their religious conversion, and you really just wish they would, one last time, wear a lamp shade on their head because they’re drunk enough to think that’s funny.
TWP is actually without a lot of things now.
Next part: what the hell happened to CNN.com?
Everett complains about a lot of things over on his own blog, trans/plant/portation.