Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes when I do interviews, the questions is asked: “What is your guilty pleasure?” Lately I’ve been answering with America’s Next Top Model. I thought there could not be a show more empty, more shallow and without substance that this: and that’s what draws me in. No thinking required, and the occasional: “Wow, I can’t believe these are real people.” Which is why, last night, I got sucked into a Paris Hilton’s My New BFF marathon that was playing on Star TV. This show has even less substance that Top Model…in fact it has no substance at all. At least in Top Model the girls had a goal in life, a dream to live out, a destination in mind. This BFF show has none of that. The girls on the show are made to seem that they have no intention in life, no reason to work hard or be challenged on TV (or in reality) other than to hang out with a stranger who is really famous and really rich. It’s genius. Pure evil genius. And I watched three hour-long episodes in a row, mostly just to confirm that my mind was being boggled for the right reasons, that this show is nothing more than an infommercial for the Paris Hilton brand. Luckily for me the marketing had the opposite effect and after seeing what was apparently the gaudy interior of Ms. Hilton’s house, I vowed never to even go into a store that carried Paris Hilton merchandise.

Watching a train wreck happen before your eyes is definitely what makes reality TV so addictive and popular. Also it eliminates the need for full-time writers to be hired on a production. But even worse than American reality TV is Canadian reality TV. Namely our latest, guiltiest pleasure: Disband on MuchMusic. Based firmly in Toronto, this show has Greig Nori from Treble Charger following and coaching a new band along the seamy edges of the music biz, culminating with the band performing on TV and an ultimate decision by a panel of “experts” on whether or not the band in question should continue to exist or…DISBAND! It’s awesome. And brutal. Sometimes we see people we know on the show (not in the bands but industry types), which makes it all the more painful and dark.

Other than that, the only good shows on TV are Chef Abroad with Michael Smith, and of course Top Chef which are both guiltless pleasures. And Entourage. But until the next season of Lost starts in 2009, I’ll just be wallowing in rubbish reality TV.

“Lost” and I

Being home (and not on tour) has allowed us to fall into some fairly pedestrian routines. Usually centered around some television event, Thursday nights have become Lost night. Previous domestic lock downs have included Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, and originated with earlier seasons of Amazing Race (now it sucks).

The thing that doesn’t work very well about Lost night is that I’ve only seen a few episodes from various seasons. It’s the sort of show that has so many meandering plots and twists and sub-plots that when I watch it with Murray I’m compelled to ask a bunch of questions during the commercial breaks: “Who’s Sawyer?” and “I thought that guy was dead?” and then more queries about the Dharma Initiative, The Others and The Oceanic 6. Even I think it’s annoying.

But I’m afraid to catch up because it would mean an incredible investment in TV time. Lost is already in its fourth season, meaning hours of watching. Once on tour I tried to start from the beginning. I was in my dark bunk on the tour bus, watching the first episode on my laptop. It made me really tense: my teeth were clenched the whole time and I had trouble falling asleep. Needless to say I didn’t invest much more time in Lost. I prefer to sleep.

Lost all started on the bus. Krief introduced the first season on DVD and immediately Murray and him were cracktastically addicted. They still call each other just to talk about it and the possible “theories.” I guess this is why the show is such a success, because it is so complex and multi-dimensional. And kind of scary.

Thursday nights are still fun, despite of my naïvieté.