Meredith Hoffa: In the past three months since becoming a mom, thanks to nonstop breastfeeding, I've spent a phenomenally disgusting number of hours in front of the television. And to my delight: there is some freaking fantastic stuff out there, stuff I likely would never have stumbled upon had I not gotten knocked up.
Since baby's arrival, I've been introduced to a whole new world of delicious small-screen madness, and, as a result, my whole happiness scale has now been recalibrated. I know I'll always look back fondly on the summer of 2009 as a sort of magical, binge-y blur, with me parked on the red loveseat -- babe latched to my chest and a stash of baked Cheetos by my side -- gorging myself on all sorts of glorious telly candy.
There's so much programming to kvell about, but here are my top three new obsessions:
1) The MAGIC BULLET Infomercial
Ohmideargod. This piece of television is insane on so many levels. I practically hyperventilate with glee/second-hand embarrassment whenever I come across it. Even just writing about it right now is causing my knee to bounce a little.
Despite the fact that the Magic Bullet sounds like a sex toy for the anus, it is actually a kitchen apparatus for pulverizing food items. As far as I can tell, it's basically just a jacked-up Cuisinart with eleventy-billion attachments -- nothing particularly original -- but what's so thrilling about the Magic Bullet is the infomercial's actual production.
For one thing, the hosts do a great job convincing you that you can easily prepare ANY RECIPE ON EARTH in like six seconds max. We're not just talking a simple chopped salad or smoothie here; we're also talking a Western omelet, even apple pie à la mode from scratch. They demonstrate the Bullet making these things in no time flat, the implication being that anyone who spends longer than a handful of seconds prepping his or her meals is a bit of a time-wasting jackass. I always wonder where they think we're in such a hurry to get to. The theatre? Back to the lab to cure cancer? It is a little baffling, actually, since as far as I'm concerned, the whole fun of cooking is in the drinking of wine and the hanging about lazily in the kitchen as you slice and gab and whatnot. But, nevertheless, witnessing the Bullet churning out all these foodstuffs is actually oddly invigorating. Somehow, by the time they present that perfectly golden, piping hot apple pie, you really do want to leap to your feet and applaud -- although since there is a baby on your teat, you do not.
Possibly the best thing about this infomercial, though, is its nutjob format. It's done like a sitcom in which actors play actual characters who act out these highly creepy vignettes ("Did somebody say muffins???") on a kitchen set. There's Berman, the schlubby klutz who can't get anything right; Hazel, a drunken old hag who harrumphs around with a cigarette dangling from her mouth; and also a sunny young couple who are very jazzed about the Bullet because they are sunny and young. In a word: amazing. It's endlessly entertaining, so much so that it actually makes up for the fact that I am awake at 3 AM. Bravo, I say to the Magic Bullet. Bravo. You have slain me.
2) "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"
Before I'd ever seen the show, I assumed the Kardashians were a nightmare. I had a distant impression of Kim and the rest of them as the epitome of the worst of what L.A. has to offer: vapid, materialistic, blah blah blah. Well, I am man enough to admit I was wrong. After watching E! around the clock for a few months now, I've concluded that the Kardashians are actually sort of lovely. For real. Granted, I don't pay much attention to the storylines involving the scarily plasticky-faced parents, Kris and Bruce Jenner, but I am totally compelled by the three sisters. I love how they look the same, yet different. I love the sister-on-sister lesbian undertones. I love how Khloe is the youngest yet the tallest. And I find that the show has a pleasantly calming affect on me. Perhaps the girls' slow, vaguely nasal voices have something to do with it, or their ever-plush, earth-tone surroundings. Perhaps it's just all the gloss: lip gloss, glossy hair, glossy nails, glossy handbags. It all lulls me into a contented, sleepy state that feels nice to my sleep-deprived brain. So imagine my euphoria now that the girls have a new Miami spinoff series. It feels, I imagine, not unlike winning the lottery.
3) "So You Think You Can Dance"
This fantastic show blows its cousin series "American Idol" out of the water -- and I say this even as a several-seasons "Idol" devotee. What SYTYCD has going for it: truly incredible dancers, a minimum of crying*, a host who is superfoxy as well as endearing, and no Randy Jackson. The judges on this show legitimately live for dance and legitimately love the contestants; they're like proud mama and papa bears. My #1 judge is Mary Murphy. She's all teeth (does she or does she not resemble a friendly piranha?!) and all voice, and while I don't think I'd ever want to spend much time in a small room with her without a muzzle on hand, I do adore her so. Whenever she compliments a contestant's performance, it seems so authentic and so from the heart that I always imagine that if I was that dancer receiving that praise, I may have to lie down on the stage and also perhaps weep. If you are a lover of dance, a lover of contests, or simply a human being, you must watch this show; it will make your life better.
Anyway ... like I said, all this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more television goodness out there (don't even get me started on VH1's "My Antonio"), it's just a matter of letting yourself find it. It's funny because my whole life I'd thought of myself as a well-versed TV person; now I know just how in the dark I really was. It wasn't until this past summer that I had proper opportunity to plumb the depths of what my little square screen had to offer. These past few months have expanded my horizons beyond my wildest expectations, and for that, I have my milk-guzzling baby to thank. So: thank you, my adorable, moonfaced little ladybug. And hallelujah, I say, for the gift of sweet, sustaining TV nectar.
* Except for the Cancer Dance episode
|Meredith Hoffa's first-person writing has appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Fit Pregnancy, Business Traveler, and the new anthology, "Rejected" (Villard/Random House, 2009). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.|