Last Chrismukkah, an entire generation did a double take when The O.C. 's resident indie geek, Seth Cohen, uttered the words "Death Cab for Cutie" on network television during prime time. A year later, it's clear a new era has arrived when the biggest name on the soundtrack to TV's No. 5 show, Grey's Anatomy, is the Postal Service; all the rest are underground indie bands.
Remember the days when TV shows didn't have soundtracks? Remember when the housemates on The Real World were forced to get grown-up jobs working with kids or launching a start-up company? Not anymore: This year's cast was charged with doing body shots off -- er, making a documentary on -- indie-rock bands at South by Southwest.
UPN's giving everyone from the Dandy Warhols' Courtney Taylor-Taylor to Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith walk-ons on Veronica Mars in the hopes of reeling in that oh-so-sought-after hipster demographic. Meanwhile, the same network's Sex, Love & Secrets is set in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood, home to indie heroes like Beck and the kinds of bars that are too cool for signs. And ABC's Lost will feature the Hold Steady in an upcoming episode.
With the rampant co-opting of indie culture by TV execs at an all-time high, we decided to look into our crystal ball to see what these crafty producers might dream up next. Behold, the future:
During May sweeps, Dr. Phil presents "Indie Rock Feuds: A Very Special Episode," wherein he attempts to heal the rift between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre in segment one and gets Jack White and the Von Bondies' Jason Stollsteimer singing campfire songs in segment two. The show ends with a tearful, eyeliner-stained embrace between the Killers' Brandon Flowers and the Bravery's Sam Endicott.
Devendra Banhart guest-stars on Lost when the cast happens upon another heretofore undiscovered part of the island inhabited by yet another crazy, muttering hermit. Asked about his performance later, Banhart responds, "Performance? What performance?"
Carl's Jr. replaces a bikini-clad Paris Hilton with a bikini-clad Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine) as the new spokesman for its Six Dollar Burger.
Kelly Monaco is ousted from Dancing With the Stars when producers realize that having Peaches give John O'Hurley a lap dance to the tune of "Diddle My Skittle" performs much better among the crucial 18-to-34 demo.
VH1 debuts The Indie Surreal Life for its 2006 season, corralling M.I.A. , the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis in a Williamsburg loft. Louis XIV's Jason Hill is cast as the pervy Bronson Pinchot character who keeps calling M.I.A. "chocolate girl" in a fake British accent and gets kicked out of the house for telling Lewis he wants to squeeze her "every way until she bleeds."
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American Idol becomes Americana Idol as Simon, Paula and Randy are replaced by Jeff Tweedy, Ryan Adams and Gillian Welch. Contestants are judged based on such criteria as best fake Southern drawl, best fictionalized hard-luck story used to cover up a silver-spoon upbringing and best Bobby-Duvall-in-Tender-Mercies impression.
And finally, next spring, NBC will present The Apprentice: Jonathan Poneman. Contestants are overseen by the co-founder and CEO of Sub Pop Records as they attempt to master the day-to-day operations of running an indie label: getting stoned, playing video games, smoking pot, earning a reputation around the office as "the idea guy," having starstruck interns do your job for you...
Two words: CSI: Omaha.