Monday, May 11, 2009

TV Epiphany

After thinking long and hard about what to post today, I finally settled on an important issue, one of utter importance to us all.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jon and Kate Plus Eight.

This program should be subtitled "Husband Repellent," because nothing will send Paul into the other room quicker than this show. If the whining and wailing of one (or more) of the eight children, does not sufficiently raise Paul's blood pressure, the interviews with Jon and Kate will.

Paul calls Jon, "the man with the dead eyes," for this man has been hen-pecked by his wife to the point that nothing fazes him. He just stares and drifts off to his happy place, while his wife berates him for neglecting to use a coupon, being an inattentive father, or for breathing too loudly. None of these examples are exaggerated.

That being said, I hope that the rumors of infidelity are unfounded, because there are kids involved. Also, Jon and Kate apparently speak at Christian churches, so it would be nice to not confirm some people's expectations that faith=hypocrisy.

While Paul heads for the hills, I find myself watching, fascinated. I watch for the same reason that I fill my mind with other garbage, such as House Hunters or America's Next Top Model:

First of all, there's something to admire. Just as I coo over the vaulted ceilings and wainscoting on House Hunters, or covet the cheekbones of Eva or Heather on Model, I admire the cuteness of the eight kids. They are always clean, generally dressed in adorable matching frocks, and they say and do funny things.

Yet, and I fear this is the real reason I continue to tune in, these shows make it easy to feel superior. When the doofus of the week on House Hunters explains that a house is perfect, "except for the paint," I look at my own (self-painted) walls and nod smugly. Likewise, when the model of the week is in hysterics because she's plumping out to a size four, I roll my eyes and eat another Sour Patch Kid. And yes, when Kate threatens to throw away the beloved comfort object of one of her children (because he got gum on it), it's easy for me to think, "What a terrible mother. I would never do that."

Except that I could. And I have. Just the other day, I was furious at Owen because he had torn apart a basket while upstairs, "napping." I said, "How would you like it if I tore Big Teddy's head off? Would that make you feel good?"

Owen's tears assured me that, no, that would not make him feel good. Despite the fact that I'm the adult, I didn't fight fair. I was impatient, disrespectful, and downright nasty. And I only have two children, not eight.

Perhaps there should be a third reason to watch these reality programs, if I truly cannot think of a better way to occupy my time. Perhaps I should watch with a spirit of empathy and humility, understanding that it is possible to be short with your child, dislike a paint color, or even (heavens!) be a size four, yet still be human, and forgiven.


Coby Goesling said...

I agree - Jon does have that glazed over look. I watched this show last summer on vacation, but stopped after a few episodes - I hated the way Kate treated her husband.

Although I agree - sometimes these shows make me feel better about myself ("at least I'm not like so-and-so)...and that's not exactly cool.

dek said...

Dammit, Nancy, I was ready to shout out in smug agreement that reality TV is a cesspool of morons with exhibitionist tendencies and histories of poor choices, but then you hit us with the whole humility, empathy, withholding judgment thing. Well played, Ms. Nathan (2 Samuel 12:5-7).

Now for the obligatory critter reference: researchers at the Brazilian Institute for Neotropical Felids (I'm not making this up) have "...discovered that...she discovered that [ocelot] mothers with boxes that allowed them child-free intervals are less likely to harm the young." (1:29 in this video). Maybe the world's beloved comfort objects would be safer if mothers were provided with nice, quiet, child-free nest boxes - I mean, "personal spaces."

Minivan Lover said...

I love when the Soup have J&K+8 clips!
Did I just make up a txt-style lingo!?