As played by Sharon Gless, Madeline -- sporting shoulder-dusting earrings, a Guy Fieri haircut and a perpetual cigarette dangling between frosted-coral lips -- cannily works the motherly-retiree angle as a way of getting people's guards down (including her son's) and then mercilessly imposing her will on them. Truly, she's an inspiration for anyone looking for an alternative to today's youth-obsessed TV culture.
Alas, there is no "Check out the patrons at a water park" cable channel, but there are sports, glorious televised sports, and nothing is more rewarding than watching the NCAA softball finals (to give one example) or the NCAA swimming and diving finals (to give another). And coming up, there are the Olympics.
Not only does this show perpetuate the popular "fat equals unhealthy" with its unspoken corollary "therefore, thin equals healthy," it also overtly coaches its participants to engage in what Kate Harding so aptly called "the fantasy of being thin." And then there's the vomiting and dehydration. That's healthy, right?
Egypt. India. The Ukraine. Oprah tried to show viewers what life's like for married women in these places via her "Marriage around the World" show Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Queen of Talk came up short, delving into tired subjects such as Muslim women and the head scarf, mail order brides from Eastern Europe and why anyone would choose arranged marriage. What's more is that while profiling women from around the globe, Oprah not only reinforces stereotypes about women of color but also argues that women from Denmark are the ones to be emulated. The not-so-subtle message? White Western women have it best, while others continue to lead pitiable, backwards lives.
Can we talk about the food thing? It wasn't particularly cute when Aaron Sorkin made Republican blonde Ainsley Hayes' thing her prodigious appetite, and it's sort of unsettling how Liz's unhealthy and emotional relationship with food is played as hysterical now.
Talk about a case of reality TV hitting close to home: students at a beauty college in Alameda, California, found out that the owners of the college had been shopping around the following reality TV proposal:
"The students are mostly inner-city, unwed mothers taking advantage of government subsidies for a better life. The instructors can't find any other job that offers 'bennies' [benefits]. The new owners are white, naive suburbanites bleeding cash and trying to keep it all under control."
Is this show really another iteration in the genre of mainstream women's "service" entertainment, where "service" is defined as "we will have a lot of contempt for you unless you conform to these commercial norms?"