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[personal profile] gordonzola
Living in San Francisco means you don’t need to get cable if you are not TV obsessed. With just an antenna you can get all the major networks, PBS, and a few indie stations. Occasionally at my parents’ house, on vacation, or at a motel I will watch something and my mind will get blown. This is really on TV?

I’m looking at you, Dance Moms.

But we got ROKU for x-mas and I have been checking out those reality shows* that seem so intriguing when I’ve seen them advertised on my TV holidays. OMG. Most of them are so bad that they trigger my depression. I realize these things are subjective. I’m not judging anyone who likes these shows. I’m just saying I’m glad I didn’t waste money on cable all these years.**

Here’s what I have been watching. Anything I should check out that I haven’t found yet?

Old episodes of Top Chef
These are great. The only Top Chef I had ever watched was the one season that is on DVD and a few episodes of Season 3 that I watched while stranded on the tarmac on a two hour flight delay on the way to Seattle to sign a contract with my agent. I had no idea there was no Padma in season 1. They have made some really smart moves over the years… getting rid of the caterers and home chefs, making better challenges with better food etc. We watched the current season as well and I just wanted to say, again, that all of you who had sympathy for Beverly and hated on Sara were just wrong, wrong, wrong. The thing about this show, which differs from the horrible “Hell’s Kitchen”, is that the contestants are talented and the judges, for the most part, seem legit.

Storage Wars
It took me a bit to get over the horrible premise of the show. People bidding on the possessions of others left behind in storage lockers is not something that would be allowed in a just society. But, on the other hand, I find it fascinating to see how things get to thrift stores. Except for maybe Brandi and Laura, no one is really likable on this show, but I have to admit that the buried treasure aspect of the storage lockers carries this for me. I really do want to know what’s in there and what it’s “worth”. I got kind of addicted to this show.

Pawn Stars
This show, on the other hand, is just awful. It combines the unlikeable aspects of Storage Wars with a scripted arrogance that made it unwatchable. The only episode that I saw, the main dude bought a cannon for $30,000. At least on Storage Wars you get the feeling – with a couple thousand being about the biggest bid– that the folks making the money on the lockers are not too far above – and sometimes clearly below – the people they are making money off of. If you have $30,000 for a cannon, my sympathy is gone. Plus they mock people who come in with things of no value. Whatever dudes.

Work of Art
This show is actually pretty awesome even though Stagey and I only half way through season one. Reality show of artists? It makes no sense! Here’s one day – MAKE ART! An acquaintance was on Season One and didn’t do very well – and some of the “artists” are terrible – but hey, Top Chef had some real terrible cooks in season one as well. [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid wrote about these episodes when they came on and I really wished he tagged his entries.

Project Runway All-Stars
Just not the same without Heidi, Tim, and Nina.

RuPaul’s Drag Race
I know lots of you love this, but I was bored. It owes a lot to America’s Next Top Model for sure, and maybe I just watched too many episodes of that show, but it has all the fake drama and arbitrary rules that I began to hate about ANTM. I’d probably need to watch more episodes to have a coherent analysis – or come to like it.

American Pickers
After about five minutes I wanted to punch these assholes in the face. Two dudes self-importantly drive around the country looking for poor people to exploit. They strategically bother people until they give in, lowballing them despite the fact that some appear senile or unaware of where their next meal will come from. After the Rev, these folks definitely have a date with the firing squad for crimes against the People. Plus they have a goth-y gal back at home base who seems to be trying to be that goth girl on that military cop show or that quirky computer girl on that serial killer show.*** The only thing of value in this show is that it could inspire hatred of the entire capitalist system based on the ruthless actions of two Randian douchebags in a van.

*I consider Project Runway and Top Chef to be the crowning achievements of this genre, btw.
**Being able to watch Giants games would certainly be a mitigating factor, however.
***The difference between punks and Goths in a nutshell? Punks hate representations of themselves on TV and view all such fictional representations as sell outs. The Goths think it’s cool to have one of their own working for 1. The military and 2. The cops. That may be a lot of things, but cool will never be one of them.

Date: 2012-05-03 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] th3-s1kh-g33k.livejournal.com
Sweet Genius on Food Network is pretty great. I also like Restaurant Impossible on Food and Bar Rescue on Spike for the same reason: it's an hour of drama and conflict, but everyone is always left off better than they were at the beginning of the hour.

To my great shame, I'm also into American Digger on Spike. An obese former pro-wrestler digs up historical artifacts in people's yards and then sells them, splitting the profits with the land owners. I can't help myself...

Date: 2012-05-03 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
see, the splitting the profit makes that so much better. I'm gonna look for that one.

Restaurant Impossible just seems like a Kitchen Nightmares rip off with an equally unlikable host. Am I wrong?

Date: 2012-05-03 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toastykitten.livejournal.com
I like Restaurant Impossible. But then I have a soft spot for Robert Irvine, even if he is a total lying liar in real life. Irvine doesn't curse people out, and he seems to be sympathetic to the restaurant owners. From outside reports, he seems to pitch in with the grunt work a lot and he keeps in touch with some of the owners he's met.

Date: 2012-05-03 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] th3-s1kh-g33k.livejournal.com
With Rest Imposs you don't feel like you're watching someone get completely exploited for your entertainment.

Date: 2012-05-03 11:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-05-04 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] villagecharm.livejournal.com
I want to second the Sweet Genius recommendation, which is a show that The Sikh Geek turned me onto. It's like a game show about dessert hosted by a James Bond villain. Sublime.

Date: 2012-05-03 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kest.livejournal.com
You didn't like Pawn Stars? Really? But, it's all history and stuff!

I mostly have cable for comedy central, syfy, and usa. I'm not much of a reality show watcher. Although I do have a secret weakness for Wife Swap. Don't judge.

Date: 2012-05-03 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
I love Wife Swap. Actually sad that it was cancelled. Celebrity Wife Swap misses the whole point.

Pawn Stars is uber-dudely in a dude-saturated genre. But hey, I only watched one episode.

Date: 2012-05-03 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tupelo.livejournal.com
Make sure you see the UK wife swap where they swap the retired footballer's wife for Pete Burns of Dead or Alive!

You know my feelings about RuPaul's Drag Race. This season wasn't my favorite. But I still love it. I also like Tabatha's Salon Takeover and The Arrangement but that's about it. Tad likes Pawn Stars because sometimes they get weird old guns.

Date: 2012-05-03 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com
Who was your friend on Work of Art?

Date: 2012-05-03 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
Nao Bustamante. But really more an acquaintance than a friend. Like if we met up I'd say, "Hey Nao, do you remember me? I'm close friends with XXXX and I work with XXXX." and she'd say, "Uh, ok."

She was one of the best poets/performance artists in the anarcha-queer art world in early '90s SF. For whatever that's worth. ;)

It was very sad that she kind of choked in the compeition that should have been her strength. Serrano actually explained her piece more coherently than she could. That must have been embarrassing

Date: 2012-05-03 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com
Ah, of course, she's local. And she wasn't great. I liked when she first appeared and she said something along the lines of hoping that her critiques would help guide the younger artists in the competition. Haw haw!

Date: 2012-05-03 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahshevett.livejournal.com
Re: Storage Wars. YOu don't like Barry?

Re: Project Runway. I agree completely. unwatchable now

Re: Wife Swap..Loved it for a while, then got tired of the stupid people.
I did enjoy the one where they switched with a dairy farmer..

Date: 2012-05-03 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
SW: Barry definitely provides a lot of joy in that show, but I wouldn't exactly say that I like him.

PR: If Heidi, Tim, and Nina are in, I'm in!

WS: I probably would have burned out if I watched regularly but it's always been an unexpected treat. The dairy farmer one was the best ever.

Date: 2012-05-03 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jillbertini.livejournal.com
I can't say that I like any reality shows, so I have none to recommend.

I am still catching up with the last decade. We just finished season 1 of Battlestar Galactica. I'm totally in love with Starbuck. Other than that, I think The Good Wife is the best show on network tv right now. The writing, the acting, the ensemble - pow.

Date: 2012-05-03 07:06 pm (UTC)
ext_6418: (Default)
From: [identity profile] elusis.livejournal.com
Agreed about "The Good Wife." I was blown away by just the first season - I'm a couples therapist who has worked with a lot of infidelity, and they were SPOT ON in terms of writing the way both the cheating partner and the hurt partner often react to each other as time goes on after the affair is revealed. And Juliana Marguiles is just a brilliant actor, with a great cast around her.

Date: 2012-05-03 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jillbertini.livejournal.com
Oooh, I really like knowing that.

I pretty much have a crush on the entire cast. Not gonna lie ;).

Date: 2012-05-03 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
Yes, we love that show.

Date: 2012-05-03 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
We're loving The Good Wife. Just started season 2. But we're watching that on DVD. I liked the first couple of BG seasons... then it goes way downhill.

Date: 2012-05-03 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jillbertini.livejournal.com
It just keeps getting better (The Good Wife). We managed to keep up with the current season, that JUST ended. Although we missed like half of the episodes, but oh well. We're used to being out of sync.

I've been warned about BSG sucking as time goes on. We'll see how we feel at the end of season 2 :D.

Date: 2012-05-03 07:04 pm (UTC)
ext_6418: (Default)
From: [identity profile] elusis.livejournal.com
I concur with your feelings about PR and TC. Haven't watched either in several seasons because of no cable but I miss them. Though I *liked* when they had caterers and home chefs on - the last season I watched, I missed having the feeling that doing well on the show (not even winning necessarily) might really make the difference for someone struggling to break into top level restaurants. But now? Guys who have already worked for Eric Ripert? Go home - you've already won, dudes.

I think PR was heading a bit in that direction last I watched but not as much.

I am working my way through "No Reservations" via Netflix on Roku and really enjoy seeing Bourdain actually improve as a person over the course of the show. I love it when he has to suck it up and try to talk extemporaneously while trying to be grateful and kind toward people - he's so fucking awkward and he knows he's just not in his element.

I enjoyed several seasons of "The Amazing Race" back in the early 2000s because although there were some of the arbitrary and stagey things that annoy me about reality TV, the people were mostly just average folks, and I loved the relationship development that happened for a lot of people (not to into the ones that came unglued but I'm a big wanky therapist so you know.) A friend and I used to watch and strategize about what we'd do at each point if we entered as a team.

What service(s) are you using to watch shows on Roku? I gave in and subscribed to Hulu Plus but now that they can't stream Burn Notice, don't even have Justified this season, House is ending after this season, and Community/Modern Family are going on summer hiatus, I may cancel. (Oh, plowing through all 3 seasons of Misfits was worth it.)

Date: 2012-05-03 07:08 pm (UTC)
ext_6418: (Default)
From: [identity profile] elusis.livejournal.com
Oh yeah, one more that I like: Dirty Jobs! Pretty awesome to see actual working class people get to speak for themselves on TV even if it still has that "smile for the cameras" shine on it.

Date: 2012-05-03 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
I used to love Amazing Race (remember that gay fashion couple in season 2 who went shopping during one leg?) but it's unwatchable now.

Mostly we buy things on a show-by-show basis with Amazon: still a fraction of the cable bill. And I haven't watched any cable shows so Netflix has years of back episodes. We got Hulu Plus, but I'm not sure it's worth it. We haven't been using it much.

Date: 2012-05-03 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bing-crosby.livejournal.com
The only thing of value in this show is that it could inspire hatred of the entire capitalist system based on the ruthless actions of two Randian douchebags in a van.

This genuinely made me LOL. In case anyone on this thread is curious, I would love to read a lefty-lighthearted trashy TV recap blog. That seems to be a missing piece in the blogosphere, no?

you raise an interesting point about these antiques/pawn shows. I haven't really watched any despite (or maybe because) researching old stuff is my job, but students often bring them up. Even Antiques Roadshow irks me when it seems exploitative on the "wait till you see how much your family heirloom is worth.. oh wait, it's a fake!" front.

Date: 2012-05-03 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
Well, at least Antiques Roadshow is appraisal only!

Date: 2012-05-03 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pantryslut.livejournal.com
My rec for RuPaul's Drag Race is twofold:

a) Skip straight to the end and watch several "Lip Synch For Your Life" sessions. Because when the magic happens on this show, this is where it is.


b) Watch the "behind the scenes" chatty episodes instead.

(or, c) watch it with toddlers and narrate. My standards for watchable TV have, er, morphed slightly over the past few years.)

Date: 2012-05-03 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
a) is probably a great suggestion for when I give it another chance.

Goths vs punks

Date: 2012-05-09 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] walktheplank.livejournal.com
This made me laugh out loud:

The difference between punks and Goths in a nutshell? Punks hate representations of themselves on TV and view all such fictional representations as sell outs. The Goths think it’s cool to have one of their own working for 1. The military and 2. The cops. That may be a lot of things, but cool will never be one of them.


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