Where's the village?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cynicism prevails

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For a while, when I was first coming to terms with my depression, and hadn't found the right vitamin/exercise/diet regimen to at least keep on an even keel, watching the show was my weekly catharsis. I would get the dajamou to bed a little early, grab a beer or glass of wine (this was pre-pregnancy, natch), and bawl my eyes out at the overwhelmed joy of the families as they finally saw their fancy schmancy new house, a new lease on life. Often accompanied by a fundraiser which pays off the mortgage or starts a college scholarship or benefits a charity the family works on. It's a formula, they've been doing it for five years, same exact thing, but it works. And it worked for me.

I still enjoy the show these days, but my experience of it has changed dramatically. For one thing, the dajamou clued in to the fact that watching this show was a little bit important to me, so she determined to insert herself into my weekly indulgence as much as possible. This created a bedtime fury-drama unparalleled in our family history, until I promised to tape it for her and NOT WATCH IT without her. Fortunately, I later discovered the Full Episode Player on ABC's web site. This mollified the dajamou, and put the bedtime routine back down to its normal defcon 1 or 2 status. However, the girl CAN NOT SIT STILL FOR 30 SECONDS unless muppets or cartoons are involved. And all the questions! Ye gods, the questions. I find myself having to concentrate harder than I really ever should be concentrating on a TV show.

And, being the mom, with the constant mental Peanut Gallery judging my parenting skills, I also have to start looking at the show and what messages it's sending to my girl. The super-obvious branding (want me to tell you what company makes the Move That Bus? Where they go to get all their furniture and appliances? Who almost always does the flooring?), the sad stories that give her a wee inkling of what a terrible world it can be, the rampant consumerism, the more-is-better design attitude that is peppering McMansions across the country...suddenly I can't just turn my brain off and go all maudlin for an hour or so once a week.

So, I find myself analyzing the show, dusting off the critical thinking skills, and coming away from each episode just a little less satisfied than before. I don't know how much longer the series will go on (the dajamou's hoping to be a designer on the show when she grows up), but I have a feeling that my devotion to it is already starting to wane.

Heroes, though? Heroes I could watch forever.


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