Film and TV

Something’s Less Rotten in the State of Television

You used to be able to count on TV serving all your lowest-common-denominator needs. Up for some good transgender slap-fighting? Jerry Springer has you covered. Hankering for some good cornpone jokes and T&A? Hee-Haw was on for more than twenty years. Want to see someone forced to eat something disgusting? Take your pick: Survivor, Jackass, or the king of lowbrow anti-intellectual semi-violent prurience itself, Fear Factor.

But recently the FOX network, once the bastion of all things tasteless (without Married…With Children, where would television vulgarity be today?) both premiered and cancelled the show Anchorwoman on the same night. This should have been a sure thing; this was the Barry Bonds of bad TV. Check out this premise: Lauren Jones is a former model, former Miss New York State, former World Wrestling cheesecake chick, and former “Barker’s Beauty” on The Price is Right. The semi-scripted show itself was to deal with her struggle to become the titular anchorwoman at the actual KYTX station in Tyler, Texas. This was a win-win-win situation here. Her background alone would draw huge: wrestling fans, pageant fans, game-show fans, not to mention the massive contingent of fans of vacuous blondes. And then you throw in the semi-real drama of a semi-scripted reality show? We have ourselves a winner here.

But it wasn’t a winner. It bombed on its first night of air so badly that they pulled it by the next morning. (And this from the network that still airs So You Think You Can Dance?) So here’s my question: are we getting smarter? Are TiVos and the like allowing us to choose better shows, and not just watch what’s on because it’s “what’s on”? Are we no longer willing to bend over before the hooded masters of the TV network frat and say Thank you sir, may I have another?

Yeah, I don’t think so. Anchorwoman was an anomaly of good taste. Want proof? Ryan Seacrest is now on 46% of all televised media. And if there’s anyone who can upright the Carnival Cruise ship that is crappy TV, it’s the Sea-Man.

-- Teague Bohlen

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Sean Cronin