Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: I don't have a lot of "must-see TV." I like "The Middle," "Modern Family," "30 Rock" and "The Office." We don't have TiVo or a DVR and I don't really record shows, so if I miss it, I miss it. I usually, though, have some show that is my guilty pleasure. It is usually about people who are a wreck for some reason or another.
Years ago, "The Jerry Springer
Show" was my guilty pleasure. Then "Wife Swap" and the nanny shows. Now it's all about hoarding. When I watched "Jerry Springer
," I was newly married and my husband and I would watch late at night, marveling over the polygraphs, paternity tests and occasional chair-throwing necessary to sustain those featured relationships.
A few years later, I became sort of an accidental stay-at-home mother -- just in time for "Wife Swap" and the nanny shows, which gave a horrifying glimpse into the home lives of some families. Now, just as my children are all in school and I'm constantly dealing with the stuff, the stuff, the stuff ... comes the hoarding shows. My husband can't stand them (he calls them "clutter porn"), but I am glued to the set, fascinated by the seemingly normal houses that reveal layers upon layers of plastic bags, clothing, fast-food containers and, sometimes, a dead animal or two.
Some people feel that the reason why all of these shows are popular is schadenfreude, a German word meaning "satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune." But I think the feeling is more one of relief -- relief that my problems are so small, really minuscule by comparison. My kids may not listen all the time, but they're not as bad as those hellions on "Supernanny." My desk is a disaster, but hey, the rest of the house looks pretty good .... And really, we're pulling for those strangers. We want their kids and houses and lives to shape up.
So: good luck! We're watching you!