Category Archives: Evil TV

@AmericanIdol Week 1 Recap: my fave #HatchetHarryisms #ThisIsReal

Photo cred: Theresa Santoro.

Me and My Favorite Judge #VelvetHatchetHarry Photo cred: Theresa Santoro Twitter: @parentingtip2go

I gotta be honest. At this point, I’m watching American Idol because Harry Connick Jr. Yep. Just Harry. Well, OK. The contestants, too. But seriously. Harry. He’s genius. He’s such a genius, in fact, that I’m a bit worried your average TV audience CANNOT keep up. Even I–brilliant writer that I am har-har!!–had to rewind and replay sections of the premiere just to catch all his dazzling one-liners.

Um, did you catch this? He’s a Mensa? With a score of 143. YEAH. HOT.

The guy is so quick on his feet that half the time the contestants stare at him like: Whaaaa? Even JLo turns to him and is all: “Pentatonics, say what?”

And he’s also blunt-spoken. At one point in the premiere, JLo starts calling him “Hatchet Harry”  because he doesn’t mince words or coddle the contestants. I’ve started calling him #TheVelvetHatchet because OBVIOUSLY.

*HappySigh* Dude, the chemistry and hilarity between the judges makes this SUCH captivating television. It’s SO refreshing!

So, in honor of My New Favorite Judge, here are a few of my favorite #VelvetHatchetHarryisms:

Upon seeing a cheerleader walk in: “I almost wore that exact same outfit!”

When a contestant doesn’t recognize him: “See, I’m actually SO famous that what you’re seeing here is a hologram. My real self is at home in bed.”

After one of the contestants tells Keith Urban he’s so handsome: “And I’m just…me.”

When one of the contestants freezes up after singing a line about biting his tongue: “That’s a good time to bite your tongue.”

When a fifteen year old girl sings about wanting to ‘shave him smooth’: “As an artist you need to find songs that are age-appropriate. You singing about shaving me smooth creeps me out.”

To contestants who aren’t that talented: “I just don’t think you’re a good enough singer.”

And then there was THIS moment which made my heart explode into GlitterSparkleJoy:

photo cred: Emily Hill of www.isthisreallymylife.com

photo cred: Emily Hill of www.isthisreallymylife.com

So, did you watch the American Idol premiere this week? What were your favorite moments? Did you like what you saw? Do you want to watch more? What could have been better/different? Is there anything you missed from previous seasons?

That one day? When Ryan Seacrest emailed me? TRUE STORY. @AmericanIdol @IdolTweethearts

At first I thought someone hacked into American Idol’s Twitter account because WHY would American Idol follow me? And then I got all giddy because AMERICAN IDOL FOLLOWED ME WHO CARES IF IT’S A HACKER, AM I RIGHT?? Turns out, it was totes legit. Because Ryan Seacrest emailed me. Oh yes, King Cutie Pie himself emailed me. And guess what? Along with a group of other fabulous social media ladies, I was picked to attend an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of American Idol’s “Hollywood Week”! Eeeeep!!! Also: squeee. Also: I AM SO HAPPY TO BE DOING SOMETHING OTHER THAN WRITING MY BOOK!! (by the way, I finished it! turned in last touches this week! Squeee x 3,000).

OK, listen up. One word: Harry Connick McHotness Jr. Yeah. I get to meet him. And JLo. And Keith Urban. But whatevs, I’m totally staying CALM AND OMG WHAT AM I GONNA WEAR AND WHY DID I GAIN WEIGHT THESE PAST THREE MONTHS??? Ahem. Anyhoo, you can follow along with my wild Hollywood adventure next week by liking our Facebook page and following our group “Idol Tweethearts” on Twitter.

Next week, I’m goin’ to Holllyyywwoooooood!!!!

Idoltweethearts 2

Well, Miley Cyrus. How predictable of you.

Aaaand cue outrage. Shock. Horror. Pearl-clutching. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs last night was shocking. Oops. I mean. Predictable.

Seriously. Can we all stop pretending to be surprised now? Can we quit with the breathless reporting that even Miley’s team is “freaking out”  about her VMA performance last night? Because riiiiiight. I’m sure her team is just shocked.

Probably about as SHOCKED as discovering that lyrics like: “trying to get a line in the bathroom” are NOT about a long line to use the toilet. What? WHO KNEW?!

Here’s the truth: Miley Cyrus doesn’t care what you think. She doesn’t care that you’re outraged, disgusted, offended and horrified. In fact, she likes having “haters.” It motivates her.

Miley Cyrus set out to shock everyone and she succeeded. The only surprise, here, is that the adults are asking stupid questions like: “How did this happen?”

Everyone knows how this happened. It’s not like her song “We Can’t Stop” is subtle or nuanced. It’s not like it’s some hidden mystery of the universe that  Miley is singing about doing drugs. Of COURSE she is.

It’s been obvious for awhile that Miley is going off the rails…er, I mean: GROWING UP. Shaking one’s ass on national TV is, after-all, the time-honored way for former Disney stars to shed their squeaky-clean image and take ARTISTIC CONTROL of their careers. And by artistic control I mean: rocking the stripper pole. Or, in Miley’s case, the foam finger.

I don’t know about you but when I saw Miley’s performance, I couldn’t even twerk-up the energy to get outraged. I just felt sorta sad for her because her whole deal seems stupid and derivative and annoying as hell.

The only shocking thing, to me, is that anybody is watching her at all.

Seth McFarlane & Misplaced Outrage

Last week, Seth McFarlane hosted the Oscars and we got very outraged about it. Seth McFarlane was Sexist! Insensitive! OMG! HE SANG ABOUT BOOBS! I Am Outraged. And I will Rant About This On Twitter Because That Changes Things.

Ok. Hold up a sec.

Seth McFarlane is the reason Seth McFarlane was hired to host the Oscars.

Seth McFarlane is just the hired-hand. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the power broker. The Academy hired McFarlane to bring in younger viewers. And it worked. From what I read yesterday, viewership in the highly coveted 18-35 category was up 11%.

So, here’s the thing: ranting about Seth McFarlane accomplishes nothing. Getting outraged about a comic is pretty much the punchline. Seth McFarlane is a comic. A comic. If I get mad at him, I become part of the joke.

McFarlane was hired because his humor is funny to dudes aged 18-35. Period. I mean, we can be offended all we want but the real problem is not Seth McFarlane.

Seth McFarlane’s jokes were aimed at a generation of people who grew up in broken homes, whose idea of “family” is a cobbled-together assortment of friends: gamer buddies, Facebook “friends” and friends with benefits.

If Seth McFarlane is funny it’s because the center of American life is no longer the church and family. The center of American life is pleasure and entertainment.

The real problem is not Seth McFarlane. The real problem is that we live in a culture of divorce, a culture of death, a culture that is increasingly utilitarian: if you don’t serve some productive purpose, you are worthless.

So, if we’re going to be outraged and offended, we need to closely examine the ways we all contribute to the problem. How do we practice sex? How do we treat marriage and family? Is sex primarily about pleasure and recreation? Are children and family optional side-effects?

How do we practice marriage? As a sacrament? As the foundational building block of stable society or as an outdated relic of bygone times?

If McFarlane was offensive, it was only because he was willing to expose to us our true, American values: that everyone does what is pleasing in their own eyes.

And that is no laughing matter.

Doomsday Preppers: child-abuse disguised as sensible survivalism?

I’ve watched several episodes of Doomsday Preppers and each time, I’ve had to turn it off because my stomach starts hurting and my blood pressure skyrockets. I get all anxious and twitchy and start yelling things at the TV like: DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO YOUR KIDS??? HUH? HUH?

And then I turn off the TV and go suck my thumb in a corner.

My family stockpiled for 1988 (just in case some of us got left behind at the Rapture). We stockpiled for Y2K. We stockpiled after 9/11.

Our stockpiling was tame compared to the Doomsday Preppers I see on TV. But one thing remains the same: fear.

Fear is the driving motivation. And if there’s one thing I know about fear it’s that it begets more fear. Scared people scare other people and pretty soon, you’ve got a whole network of sketched-out paranoid loony-bins making radical, life-altering decisions and seriously screwing up their kids’ lives.

Now, on a very serious and tragic note, I find it rather interesting that the boy who murdered all those children in Newtown Connecticut had a mother who was “something of a survivalist:”

Neighbors told CBS News that Nancy Lanza was a gun enthusiast and often took Adam Lanza target shooting with her. The aunt said Nancy Lanza kept guns for own safety, and had something of a survivalist mentality; she was worried about protecting her home if the economy went south.

Others have already speculated about the connection between Doomsday Preppers and the Newtown incident.

I’m not convinced there’s causality there, but I’m not about to ignore the mother’s “survivalist mentality.” There very definitely IS something about the survivalist mindset that breeds irrational behavior. And to pretend that children are not directly affected by their parents’ paranoia is shortsighted.

As far as the Doomsday Preppers show goes, it’s pretty obvious that some of these families consider prepping an entire lifestyle. Hoo, boy. TRIGGER ALERT. Raising children in an immersive, prepping lifestyle is, I believe, harmful to children.

Last night I watched the episode where a Dad uprooted his entire family and moved from suburban Florida to rural Tennessee because he believed a massive polar shift was imminent. THAT SENTENCE WAS NOT A JOKE. Real people are doing this.

Here’s the thing: being prepared is good. I won’t deny that. But even good things become harmful when the driving motivation is fear. 

All you have to do is look at the depressed kids to know that they hate what is happening. And not just hate it in a whiny, teenage “OMG, Dad is, like, making us camp again.” No.

These kids are sad because not only is their Dad mentally ill and literally ruining their lives, an entire camera crew is making a spectacle of it on TV.

I was so upset on behalf of these kids last night that I seriously wanted to call National Geographic Channel and ask them why the hell they were showing child abuse without stopping it?

Child abuse is NOT entertainment.

I’m boycotting Doomsday Preppers.

I hope you will, too.

My new TV obsession: “Homeland.” Riveting, Emotional & Haunting. Spies! Intrigue! Treason! Oh, my!

I found Homeland shortly after betraying my allegiance to DishTV and switching sides to Cox Cable. Obviously, this was an act of treason. I’m pretty sure the spooks are casing my house. Maybe they’ve already installed bugs in my living room.

OMG, does the CIA read my blog?

Ahem. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. I can’t help it. I’ve been living vicariously through Carrie. You know, Carrie? Yeah, we’re on a first-name basis around here.

Carrie is the borderline psychotic CIA agent who obsessively (brilliantly?) tracks a Marine, Sargeant Brodey, whom she suspects of having become a terrorist during his 8 year imprisonment by jihadists.

It also helps that Carrie is played by one of my all-time favorite actors: Claire Danes. This woman has an exquisite gift. She is capable of naked, stark, breath-taking emotional honesty. Did you see Claire in Romeo & Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio? Since then, she’s only gotten better (and more beautiful!).

I’ve only seen two episodes from Season 1 so I’m planning on buying the DVD to catch up. Still, picking up the storyline at the beginning of Season 2 has been phenomenal.

It’s rare that I get so invested in a TV character but I’ll fully admit I’m waaaaaaay over-invested in Carrie. Claire Danes does this to me. I am absolutely helpless against her skillful portrayal. At the end of Romeo & Juliet? I sat in the theater bawling so loudly I embarrassed my sister. I was even saying things like: “NO! NO! PLEASE END SOME OTHER WAY!”

And the reason I’m blogging about this show is because of last night’s episode, the one where Carrie interrogates Sargeant Brody.

Here’s why: CARRIE UNDERSTANDS EMOTIONS.

In fact, Carries uses emotional connection to draw the truth out of Sargeant Brody. When the threatening, torturous interrogation of another CIA agent yields no answers, Carrie steps in and deftly, magically, emotionally draws out the truth.

What’s so perfect about this is that her colleagues often level an accusation against her: “SHE’S TOO EMOTIONAL.” Most of them think she’s a loose cannon and unpredictable.

“Does she ever listen?” is a common refrain.

But here’s the thing: Carrie trusts her gut instinct. And she follows it. There are times when her instinct leads her astray and she finds herself feeling crazed–as if she can’t trust her own thoughts. However, her instincts pay off.

Nobody believed her suspicions about Sargeant Brody–until SHE grabbed a bag that contained his suicide tape.

Last night as I watched Carrie interrogate Sargeant Brody I was utterly sucked in, mesmerized, on-the-edge-of-my-seat. As Carrie tells Brody’s story back to him, deconstructing his torture and brainwashing, explaining how he was broken-down and then re-built as a terrorist, I was literally trembling.

Carrie made it SAFE for Sargeant Brody to admit the truth.

Do you know how she did that? By TELLING THE TRUTH herself.

She admitted her own secret feelings. She laid it all out on the table for him to see. She made herself completely, utterly vulnerable to him.

Oh my word. It was brilliant and courageous and so, so good.

I simply can’t WAIT for next week.

Until then, I’ll be mounting some cameras on the side of my house, bugging my kids’ bedroom and honing my reconnaissance skills.

Or, you know, just being all emotional and following my gut instinct.

**update** I just discovered old episodes of “Homeland” through my Cox Cable’s ‘On Demand’ button. Which makes me very, very happy. I just watched the first three episodes of Season 1. It’s all kinds of awesome but I thought I should mention: there is sex. And yeah, gratuitous boobage. Forewarned, my friends. Forewarned.**

I met the cast of “All-American Muslim,” enjoy their show AND (gasp!) I’m a Christian

from left: Jeff, Shadia, Nina, Nawal, ElizabethEsther, Nader @ Anderson Cooper's show

Just before appearing on Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show, I ran into the cast of TLC’s new show, All-American Muslim. They had just finished taping their segment and were chatting with Anderson in the makeup room.

Anderson surprised one of their relatives–who was a big fan of his–by calling them on a (Nawal’s?) cell phone. That’s when I snapped this picture:

Anderson making someone's day (because he's awesome like that)

After Anderson left to prep for my segment, I ended up chatting with the cast. I was especially intrigued by Jeff who had converted from Catholicism to Islam in order to marry the love of his life–Shadia. Jeff looked worn out, collapsing on a chair next to me and admitting that doing all this public stuff “isn’t my personality.” He struck me as rather shy–but full of heart and openness.

Jeff and Shadia told me about their wedding which they dubbed a grand celebration of “East Meets West.” I found their story fascinating and have watched–with great interest–their newlywed struggles on All-American Muslim. I even cried when Jeff had to give up his beloved dog, Wrigley.

Shadia has a big, vivacious personality and I felt like we hit it off immediately. She has tattoos, brightly streaked hair and an infectious laugh. I felt like we could have talked for hours about what it’s like to be non-conformist women inside our respective religions.

I was stressed about my upcoming segment with Michael Pearl and when Shadia saw me get all teary-eyed about it, she came over and wished me luck with the kindest smile.

I also had a chance to chat with Nawal and Nader–and felt that instant parent-connection. Nader and I started talking about fundamentalism and how harmful it is when an entire religion is defined by extremist groups.

Nawal’s baby boy is 4 months old and she was rushing around trying to find a place to pump breastmilk. Especially after watching this latest episode where Nawal was struggling with post-partum blues, I really appreciated her openness and vulnerability on the show.

The reason I’m writing all this is because I’m embarrassed by Christians who seem to think that All-American Muslim is some kind of dangerous threat to America. A conservative, Christian group has successfully petitioned Lowe’s to pull their ads on the show.

According to Business Insider, the Florida Family Association claims it’s lobbied 60 companies to pull ads from the show. Why? Because they believe All-American Muslim is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

Florida Family Association President David Katon explained to NPR that:

Our concern with All American Muslim is that it does not accurately represent the term Muslim, which is a follower of Islam. And a follower of Islam believes in the radicalization, use of sharia law, which provides for honor killings, mutilation of women and numerous other atrocities to women.

Oh, yes. The ol’ “You-Are-Not-A-True-Muslim!” card. I thought only Christians said that about each other (wink, wink).

If the Florida Family Association wants to be fair and honest, then not only does Osama bin Laden “truly” represent Islam, but Timothy McVeigh “truly” represents Christianity.

So maybe the Koran has a more explicit, violent command about converting infidels than the New Testament does. But that hasn’t stopped Christians from killing each other.

The point is, the problem is not All-American Muslim. The problem is in defining an entire religion by its bloody, violent extremist group. The Florida Family Association is painting All-American Muslim as some sort of nefarious conspiracy plot that paves the way for Sharia Law.

But that is simply untrue. The Muslims on All-American Muslim love America. Nader is a federal agent. On Anderson’s show, Nawal said that terrorists disgust her. These people love America and abide by American laws.

What I truly appreciate about All-American Muslim is that it’s rescuing Islam from the clutches of Fundamentalism. It shows the human side of Islamic life in America.

This is not to say that I agree with with Islamic beliefs–I don’t. In fact, some of the things I’ve seen on the show truly upset me. (Dogs are unclean? What?! A 9 year old girl needs to wear the hijab?! WHAT?!)

Still, this is America. America is big enough for everyone.

And if the Florida Family Association wants to exercise a little intellectual honesty, maybe it should start looking at the ways women are mistreated right here in “radical” American Christianity.

In case we weren’t sure porn had gone mainstream–here’s NBC’s “Playboy Club” for fall TV! BOYCOTT TIME!!!

“‘The Playboy Club,’ set in the first Playboy Club in Chicago, debuts this September as the centerpiece of NBC’s new fall television season.”

My guess is that NBC is trying to grab some Mad Men market share. But instead they’re trying to pitch “Playboy Club” as….empowering women. Ummmmm. OK.

One of the leading actresses ‘praised the Playboy Bunnies as pioneers of women’s lib‘ saying:

“They wanted their own fortune and went out into the work force doing what they wanted to do. I could not be more empowered by that example…”

Just to clarify, THIS is the new face of female empowerment: the “pioneers of women’s lib”:

And NBC execs couldn’t agree more (surprise!):

NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt called the show a “really fun soap opera,” while executive producer Chad Hodge told TV reporters that the program was “all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be.

Oh! I get it! Pornography is just a “really fun soap opera!” And being a Playboy Bunny is REALLLLY all about female empowerment! How did I not know this?

And why do I feel like whacking my head against the wall right now?

In fact, I got so angry today because there’s a bus-stop ad for “Playboy Club” RIGHT ACROSS my twins’ preschool. As if that’s not bad enough, this bus-stop is crowded everyday with middle-schoolers waiting for their ride home.

And they say pornography doesn’t target children! (Many, many people who struggle with porn addiction were exposed to it as children).

Gloria Steinem doesn’t think it’s about female empowerment:

“Clearly ‘The Playboy Club’ is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all… it normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance…”

I say it’s time we mothers stood up and said ENOUGH! I’m boycotting “Playboy Club” and I urge you to do the same. Please help me CLOSE THE CLUB ON NBC by pledging to help remove pornography from network television.

Eat, Pray, Barf. One woman’s search for every fling.

Eat, Pray, Barf. That's what I'll do if anyone drags me to that ridiculous book-turned-movie. All this New Age crapalapotamus makes my ashram hurt. 

I mean, the Twilight stuff is more tolerable than this gross fetishizing of pseudo-spirituality. I blame the celebrities, what with their little Namaste bows and their dithering on about "finding themselves" during their requisite pit-stops in India. 

How terribly convenient that while making these journeys of 'self-discovery,' they're able to ignore the crushing poverty and horrific oppression around them. It's just so typical of the rampant vacuity of celebrity faux religion.

If Elizabeth Gilbert's enlightenment was worth its salt, she'd have come home all fired up to ease the suffering she stepped over on the way to her precious little ashram. Instead, she came home all fired up to write her magnum opus: Eat, Pray, Love. Which is short for: Gluttony, Idolatry, Fornication

Anyway, forget helping others or relieving human suffering. That would require sacrificial love; the kind of love that smacks uncomfortably close to, I dunno, true religion. And there's no glamorous enlightenment in that. Borrrrriiiing!

Still, I get it. I understand why this sort of tripe is such a huge hit. Humans are searching for transcendence, for God. Apparently, a lot of Americans are in love with the god of self. I mean, how else did this book come to be such a "phenomenon"?

I'll tell you how. It's called: buy now, pay later. Minimal effort (look inward), maximum results (you are God)! What's not to love?

Plus, it's easy to look the part. Throw a few tribal face-masks up on your wall, maybe place a huge gong in the middle of your living room and pretty soon, you can be an enlightened guru, too.

What I'm wondering, though, is if Julia Roberts is questioning this stuff. During her Oprah interview, she seemed a bit–um,–detached from the "spell" of Eat, Pray, Love. Oprah kept asking what the book meant to her and Julia kept talking about her kids. Bad move, Jules.

Julia even said (GASP!) she would easily pick her kids over her work. What? What? That's blasphemous talk in the religion of narcissism.

More of that kind of talk and before you know it, everyone will be pulling aside the curtain and discovering that the Great and Wonderful Self-Guru is really just a little old man working some cranks and levers.

Sheesh, Julia. WAY TO STAY ON MESSAGE.