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Dec. 6, 2004

TV Time #1: The horrors of cable

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Every fall, there are around 120 or so programs that air on the six big over-the-air networks. These channels are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The Frog One and The One That Used to Show “Girlfriends.” There are also about 180 more channels of stuff on digital cable and satellite. Now, there are some great shows with staying power that beam out of the TV box. But most of it is awful. Just awful. Honestly, just too awful for words. Well, not THAT awful, seeing as how I’m about to write 1500 words about it. But trust me, it’s bad.

For example, while I was home last spring for two weeks recovering from appendicitis (a.k.a “appendix go kablam!”), I watched a ridiculous amount of cable over those 10 days or so. Really, a scary, scary amount. Time I could have spent doing better things, like setting my hand on fire, or eating duct tape laced with cyanide.

But, like anybody dependent on some sort of amphetamine, I am hooked on television. No, I won’t be begging on street corners for more TV, or at least not until I’m 18. So for now, I see it as my civic duty of sorts to stop writing boring write-ups about Young Buck stabbing people, and put my brain to something better…critiquing Cable and Daytime TV! And Fox. Always Fox.


This show is all about paternity tests. Really, that’s every show. Every single show. The time I watched it, there was a frail trailer-trash lady from the Kentucky mountains who apparently had unprotected sex with three different guys in the 36-hour window that her child was conceived. You won’t learn about this in health class.

All three guys are scared and pale as a corpse buried under 20 feet of snow. In fact one guy, who looked like what you would get if Steve Blake started chain-smoking, began to cry. Bet he didn’t think that when his life finally was ruined, it would happen on daytime TV.

So after 10 minutes of video of the paternity tests and 40 minutes of commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs and toothpaste, we finally got to see which two guys get another shot at being deadbeat losers, and which guy actually joins the club for good. Maury reveals the results very dramatically and slowly, giving each guy a chance to think about how they plan to run to Alaska and hide in a ditch.

For the first guy, Maury ends the unbearable suspense by saying “Billy (or whatever his name was), you are NOT the father.” Then lights come up, and he breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that he can go back to his job as a porta-john salesman. It’s like the set of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” only it should be called “Who Wants to pay a Million in Child Support?”

The second guy turns out to be the dad, and he can’t believe it. This leads to perhaps the longest “beep” moment in Daytime TV history, 4 hours and 12 minutes, followed by Maury yelling at him backstage as he walks away, being chased by a couple of obese women with thick Southern accents. The show is like a formula; you can just plug in random trailer trash (i.e. Billie Mae, Kelly Rae, Jazze Pha, etc.) names and infant genders, and after that every shows the same. Lovely.


One day, I was all set for another rousing and educational episode of "Montel," anxious to see the 5-year old, 250 pound baby(?!?!). But first, a promo came up that asked, "are you the single mother of a violent toddler? If so, call 'Montel!'" Fun stuff. I bet people all over America were saying, "Well, I have huge problems in my life, better humiliate myself on National TV!" Really. People HAD to have said that, or these shows would all go off the air.

Here's another: "Do you live in the New York area, feel your house is haunted, and need Sylvia Browne's help?" WHAT?!?! Is there a "Montel" exorcist on staff? I'd be willing to bet that there's not.

Another one was "Has someone in your family betrayed you and you're having a difficult time forgiving them?" Okay...instead of painful therapy, but stuff that will ultimately solve the problem, how about yelling at your family for half an hour while people in the audience swear at you?

I can't believe there were some people who were watching this at home, lept out of their seat and yelled "ooh ooh! That's me! I'm riddled with horrible emotional problems and would love a free bus ride to New York in exchange for pouring my heart out on Daytime TV!"

So thank you Maury, Montel and others for single-handedly keeping the paternity test, TV counseling, 7-year old makeover and boot camp industries in this nation alive and thriving.

I do think that it's nice that all these shows have captions at the bottom that tell the viewer what's going on. You know, like "My Toddler's a Skank!" or, "I'm the Real Killer!"

But really, this is bad, bad television. I would have more fun if I went to my grandparents' home and watched them yell at each other in Yiddish about who forgot to buy the Kool-Whip.

Also, what's the deal with these Daytime hosts only having one name as the title of their show? I'm going to make a show called "Mike," that only focuses on violent deadbeat dad circus clown dwarves with Tourette's from Wyoming. Watch it weekdays on UPN.

The OC

I just don’t get it. Why does anyone watch this awful program? The whole episode each week seems to be an hour-long Switchfoot music video. Honestly, I can’t understand how this has any sort of entertainment value whatsoever. It’s essentially 60 minutes of people yelling about pointless stuff, but unlike “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” there’s no humor or bald Jews to be found.

I’d have more fun if I played a Finger Eleven CD and watched mimes slap each other for an hour. By about 8:35, I had to switch over to a rerun of…

The Real World: Philadelphia

“The Real World” franchise has had some hits in recent years, but also some major misses. This one is only tolerable for its unintentional comedy. While New York, New Orleans and Las Vegas were all great because the cities helped fuel these already crazy people into doing even more crazy and horribly embarrassing things, Philly does none of that. These are people in another random city who want to be on TV.

So what do we have out of that? Two homosexual guys, a curly-haired guy with an effeminate voice named Landon (but he’s not one of the gay guys), and a muscular guy from Nashville named M.J. or T.J. or Ray Ray or something who does nothing for the show except that he drinks a lot. They all drink a lot. In fact, that’s what two of the episodes were about. Or maybe three. Yeah, at least three. There's a lot of drinking.

The women do little, either. One is named Michelle, who says two words per show, both of which are expletives because her parents hate her, one who spends every show on the phone with her boyfriend, who's her ex-boyfriend, but now she’s with him again, but, oh jeez who cares! The only one who brings any entertainment is Sarah, a complete nymphomaniac. If you threw in a homeless guy, you would have any “Alcoholics Anonymous” meeting in America.

The show officially hit rock bottom a couple weeks ago, when Sarah tried to hook up with a gay guy, did, and then complained that he didn't "want it bad," or some garbage. Jeez, I wonder why…could it be because, hmmm, he’s gay?!?

Also, Landon went drinking with his ex-girlfriend and her friend, who spent the whole night vomiting. Then Landon complained that his former girl was mean to her. I totally understand. I mean, if my girlfriend of six years broke up with me for my best friend, I would completely think that she still cared about me! Idiot. Then he cried for the seventh episode in a row, the last six times coming after someone else in the house drank the last can of Molson.

That kind of did it for me; it was a watershed moment of garbage that turned me off from this show forever. Kind of like when that one episode of "Skin" where the episode ended with no conclusion. Oh wait, you mean that was the entire SERIES getting cancelled?! Ohhhh....

After they’ve spent six months humiliating themselves on national TV, they can do it all over again, when they go on…

The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Battle of the Sexes 2

Every time I see this show, I have many questions. Mainly, after seeing Coral, Katie and all the same MTV people on there, trying ever so dearly to cling on to their 15 minutes, I just wonder, do any of these people have jobs?

Really, how many of them are doctors or engineers? Okay, well, how about teachers, or dentists, or, say, any job in the whole country that makes more than $5.15 an hour. None? Are you joking?!?! I would have never guessed!

This show is like a game show, and a reality show, only it’s the worst of both worlds. After some contrived challenge sponsored by a cheap car company, all the girls just yell at each other. The guys are all hanging out, laughing, and the girls are screaming over pointless things, like that one of them used their nail polish remover, or they got within 25 feet of their shampoo. Really, I’ve seen about five different seasons of this show, and not once have I ever figured out what they’re fighting about.

Hey MTV, short for “Music Television,” how about making a show…ABOUT MUSIC?!?!

Battle for Ozzfest

Sigh…I guess this will have to do. It’s worth a mention just because, as I was looking up the name of one of “The Real World” cast members, I saw a promo on that said, “Under Age and Under Fire…Will “Ozzfest’s” Kelly be old news after his tryst with younger girls?” Ecch. I mean, come on. Don’t ANY of these people realize that they’re on TV?!?! Then again, with these shows, you never remember the good people on them, just the ones that flash everyone and sleep with 14-year-old girls. Nice stuff.

Well, that’s all for this time, mostly because I’m already at 2000 words; 1950 more than the second longest SCO humor story ever. Man, I crank this stuff out. And to be fair, MTV has some good shows, like “Pimp My Ride,” and…um…did I say “Pimp My Ride?” It pains me to say it, but where’s “Dharma and Greg” when we need it?

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  • Avi on December 6, 2004
    bushnell you have done it again......absolutely hilarious
  • 04 graduate on December 6, 2004
    this is the kind of quality writing i'm talking about. good job mike.
  • varun on December 6, 2004
    oh man i couldn't have said it better myself
  • Nice on December 8, 2004
    Very nice humor article. Probably the best I've read on SCO yet. It wasn't overly wacky and it had just the right sarcastic tone to it.
  • what about jerry? on December 8, 2004
    Jerrrrry! Jerrrry! Jerrrry!
  • Writer on December 8, 2004
    Yes, most televison is bad, but how about some more constructive criticism vs. just whining about how abysmal it is? I don't see you thinking of show ideas which would appeal to a large target audience of TV-addicted Americans. Also, I'm sure that there are many people who enjoy these shows and watch the ads that play during them, therefore keeping the shows on the air. I know you hate these shows, but I'm sure that these shows can't be all bad.
  • re:writer on December 8, 2004
    take a dang joke!
  • to: writer on December 8, 2004
    this is humor. cut him some slack.
    thank you.
  • Psh on December 9, 2004
    You actually like Dharma and Greg??
    There goes ALL of your credibility, right down the toilet.
  • alumna3 (View Email) on December 9, 2004
    When you said :
    "...The One That Used to Show "Girlfriends."

    What did you mean? UPN still shows Girlfriends in primetime. Additonally, it is now on in syndication.
  • Vivek Chellappa (View Email) on December 16, 2004
    The editors of Silver Chips Online are reviewing this article to evaluate its similarity to the Simmons piece. We will inform our readers of our findings next week.

    Vivek Chellappa
    Silver Chips Online
  • fresh slice on December 20, 2004 at 10:03 AM
    ok all you casual observers need to stop fronting on my boy mike. His article is dope and you arn't positng smack on silverchips so chill. Your arguments are wrought with logical fallacies and i have'nt seen so much pugnaciously driven bloated syntax since the last BNC program anybody acually watched. Holler at your boy. Fresh Mike, Fresh
  • Mad Money Mark on December 21, 2004 at 12:29 PM
    get over it! take up your issues with mike to his face! this is really lame, posting it with fake names online
  • SCO Editors (View Email) on December 23, 2004 at 4:19 PM
    The editors have met and found there is no plagiarism.

    ~The Editors
  • SCO Editors (View Email) on December 24, 2004 at 1:31 PM
    Several postings have been taken down because they were attacks from anonymous sources. It is Silver Chips policy not to post such attacks.

    ~The Editors
  • Briona Cunningham (View Email) on January 11, 2006 at 5:32 PM
    First of all I would like to say that the one show on upn that I have a problem with, is one on one. It used to be funny until Breanna turned 18 and flex left the show. I would suggest that Breanna start cheating on Arnaz with D-Mack, or with someone sexier and cuter. Breanna is too pretty to be stuck with a boring person like Arnaz. If she sleeps with D-Mack it may make her look like a bad person, but it will add drama to the show. Everytime Breanna and Arnaz get into an arguement, they always make up. D-Mack (Ray-J) is so sexy. I could just eat him up myself. Don't get me wrong, the show is interesting, but it get more ratings and be sexier than ever. All the show needs is a change.
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