Fondling the Boob Tube

Commentary: Alphabet Soup

My dealer is holding out on me. She must know my stash is running low, and I know she has what I want. But she won’t answer my pages and pretends not to hear me at night when I wail her name outside her window.

It’s The L Word season finale I’m talking about, of course. I’ve been a bad, bad lesbian in 2005, attending a paltry few group gatherings to watch The L Word with my viewing buddies at the beginning of the year and then just — well, finding other things to do with my Sunday evenings. So this past weekend, as the series wrapped up its second season, my partner brought home a dimebag for me — episodes 1-12 on DVD in a plastic baggie, courtesy of viewing party hostess Jennifer and her new DVD recorder. Conspicuously missing was the wrap-up, episode 13.

I’d seen 1-4 already, having attended a couple of Sunday night gatherings and a couple of catch-up sessions. So in the past 48 hours since I received the discs, I’ve watched nearly six and a half hours of L Word — trying to stretch out the last episode and a half so my cravings don’t get too intense. I’ve heard the withdrawal can be particularly brutal if you go cold turkey with the stuff still in your system.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Jennifer might be punishing me — not necessarily for skipping week after week of this year’s L Word gatherings, but for my declaration in this space nearly a year ago when I boldly proclaimed to millions of readers (yes, I have an active fantasy life) that the show was, as I put it, stupid.

After hours of viewing in the last two days, I stand by my previous judgment. It is so stupid. It is painfully stupid. I cannot believe the depths of stupidity to which this show stoops on a regular basis. I can’t believe how often it makes me roll my eyes, or shake my head, or purse my lips. Sometimes I do all three at once. Yes, ladies and germs, this is ridiculously stupid television.

And I’m all over it. I can’t stop watching it and I dread being finished with the baggie of DVDs. That’s the thing: I love stupid TV as much as the next child of the ’70s or any of the decades that have followed. I would never in a million years slap one of those “Kill your television” bumper stickers on my car, or any other surface for that matter. (I think they’re cruel and unnecessarily provoke violence against electronics.) The idea of TV-Turnoff Week, which was April 25-May 1 this year, is anathema to me.

I can use the word anathema, and use it correctly, only because I’ve been watching Seinfeld episodes on DVD and recently saw the one where George uses “anathema” and then defines it for Jerry. God bless television!

But the point remains, Jennifer may still be smarting over the whole “stupid” remark of 2004 (and she’s not likely to be amused by this year’s critical appraisal of the show, wherein “stupid” has been used in reference to the second season no fewer than four times thus far). It’s not that Jennifer doesn’t agree that the show is, well, sort of inane. But she takes exception to derisive, dismissive characterizations of the show as stupid.

I suppose I can’t blame her. I’ve never had a fierce loyalty to a lesbian-themed show — I had pretty much stopped watching Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom by the time she came out and I don’t know of any other lesbian-themed shows.

But I will admit right here in black and white, for millions of readers to see, that I was once so het up over Party of Five that I was known to have temper tantrums if the VCR wasn’t set properly to record it on Wednesday nights. (In the right mindset, I can still cry when I think about the episodes dealing with Bailey’s drinking problem.)

My earliest memories of truly stupid television revolve around my predilection for the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. It would come on the small black and white television in my bedroom after the game shows I watched during the summer at the height of my adolescence. I couldn’t be bothered to get up and turn off the TV.

Days of Our Lives caught my attention for good the day that young Melissa said to Hope (who was at the time in a loveless, politically arranged marriage to Larry): “So what’s it like?” Hope, doing that signature one-eyebrow-raise thing she did just as the music crescendoed. “What’s what like?” Hope asked her, knowing FULL WELL what she meant.

“You know,” said Melissa. “Not being a virgin.” I was immediately hooked, because I wanted to know the answer to that question myself. Of course, Hope didn’t know what that was like; she was in a loveless, politically-arranged marriage to Larry, and had not had sex with him. This was before Bo came along and swept her off her feet.

Television is, let’s face it, a magical thing. Stupid television is a special gift that we should embrace and immerse ourselves in fully. Even if the characters on the show are so unbelievably insane and unable to utter a sentence with any level of passion without using the f-word (Jenny) or startlingly large-bellied for supposedly being less than four months pregnant (Tina) or, please, hairdressers with the world’s worst hair style (Shane), this is art.

Just don’t give away the ending before Jennifer coughs up the season finale.

Kristina Campbell writes Alphabet Soup biweekly (or as the mood strikes) and she can be reached at kcampbell@metroweekly.com. She regrets lending Jennifer all of her Sex and the City DVDs before the L Word season ended, for now she has no leverage.


Advertisement


The L Word: Season 1

Seinfeld: 1-3 Box

Sex in the City: Complete 1-6

Please Leave a Comment