If I were just the teeniest bit religious, today’s morning prayer might have gone a little something like this:
Dear Rue La La – that’s right, my deity of choice is an online store that sells Seven For All Mankind denim at a reasonable price – I backslid. I said I would never ever do it again, and I tried to be strong. But I actually programmed the True Tori reunion into my DVR last night, and this morning, while drinking an excellent cup of medium roast coffee (maybe I should pray to my Keurig?), I watched the show. Please absolve me of these sins and, for the love of all that is holy, please do not punish me – even though I undoubtedly deserve it – by ever giving NeNe Leakes her own spinoff again. Amen.
I know there are some people who feel relieved after confessing secrets, but letting this one out of the bag just leaves me feeling dirty and somewhat exposed. And if I feel this way just from watching her show, how is Tori Spelling going through all of her daily moments without bathing constantly and then covering every inch of her body with hand sanitizer every hour on the hour like she set an egg timer to scour the grime of participating in this experience off of her frail frame?
I mean, the whole reunion show was gross. It was grosser than gross.
(What’s grosser than gross? I think that was a third grade riddle we used to tell near the wavy slide on the playground. I’m pretty sure the answer involved snot. And even a cold-ridden
three-year-old who can’t properly blow his crusty nose is not grosser than what I allowed myself to witness on television this morning.)
I think that’s the main factor that I can’t fully wrap my head around: I chose to not only watch the show, but I set a recording for it. This was a premeditated crime, and it’s worth some examination as to why I made this very questionable choice.
Sure, there’s television content I watch to feel somewhat superior as I recline on my purple velvet sectional. I think we all do that. I don’t, however, make a huge habit of doing so – but that’s mainly because it just feels like I’ve entered a contest that’s far too easy to win. Watching a moment of Couples Therapy where a teenager wearing 8-inch Lucite heels and a halter top made from some hybrid material that’s a cross between leather, plastic, and the tears of feminists discuss the strains in her marriage to her fifty-year-old husband doesn’t end with me feeling a true sense of superiority. I’m watching a vapid, over-sexualized teenager who married a pedophile with parental consent as she discusses her relationship issues on a show on which she was paid to appear; I win for being the more normal of the two of us.
If I were a possum-eating agoraphobic who suffered from severe depression and bouts of cannibalism, I would still be the more normal of the two of us. It’s not such an accomplishment.
I’ve thought about this subject a lot, the reasons we watch television that’s not, shall we say, intellectual programming. I really do find episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City to be an almost sociological study in the ramifications of what can happen to an individual and her psyche when she agrees to allow a camera to be pointed at her and her daily minutia for several months of the year. The moments of life – good or bad – that should be kept private are revealed, and often it’s with the justification that these memories will now be able to be revisited by the family forever since a camera crew recorded them. But couldn’t one rely upon an iPhone’s camera – or memory? Why are we so ready to embrace the fact that someone else is now editing the precious moments of our lives? Plus, reality television is not a new phenomenon. Nobody involved can honestly believe anymore that the producers value the participants’ well-being over ratings. And what’s the easiest way to get ratings? Create tension, foster and nurture that tension, and hope like hell that it culminates in one person punching a wall, spitting in someone’s face, or tearing a wig off a woman’s head and flinging it down a brightly-lit Atlanta street.
I have never seen the show, but I’ve seen many commercials for The Bad Girls’ Club. I think the point of the show is to shine a spotlight on a bunch of drunk women who have rage issues and a penchant for both wearing lycra and screaming in another person’s face so closely that tequila spittle will surely have to be wiped from an overly-bronzed cheek. I don’t know if the same lunatics are on it each season or if they recruit new young women who are prepared to sign away their privacy and their dignity in the name of fleeting fame, but it’s pretty clear that to get on this show you have to be an asshole. And then you have to ratchet up all the assholeness you can possibly muster without morphing into another species entirely in the process. Then you have to look into the camera at some point and say something profound like, “What? I just keep it real.”
(That sound the viewers of the show hear in the distance? That’s the grumbling of the Mayans who just realized they completely misinterpreted what would bring forth the apocalypse.)
But back to True Tori, a show I said I would never watch again after an earlier episode involved seeing her confused, devastated children being followed by cameras and realizing I was witnessing a millennial form of child abuse. The kids were not on the show last night – though to be fair, I didn’t know for sure that they wouldn’t be included – but one of the first questions Brooke Anderson – the probing, investigative reporter from that leader of journalistic excellence Entertainment Tonight – asked Tori was whether including the children in this show about the collapse of their parents’ marriage was a good idea.
“I want them to watch this show when they’re adults. We have fun. They have a good time. People have to know, if this at all bothered the kids, I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m proud of the woman I have become and I want them to see that.”
In the episodes I saw, while the children under the age of two were perfectly nonplussed by the camera crew inhabiting space in their living room and following them into their bedrooms at night, the kids around the ages five and seven seemed unhappy a lot of the time, especially the son. He screamed at the paparazzi that snapped photo after photo of him outside of a store. He refused to sit for a family photo session arranged by a mother (who is also a full producer on this project) who found it wise to document all the moments in the family’s history, including the most soul-crushing.
Say cheese, kid.
Early in the interview, I watched Tori tell Lifetime Television’s version of Seymour Hersh why she hasn’t asked Dean if he’s fucked other women besides the one outted by US Weekly – to whom she’s since granted exclusive interviews. Tori can’t ask. She won’t. If he claims to have never cheated besides that one time, she can’t believe him. If he says yes, she would have to divorce him.
Better to not know the answer.
Is this form of cowering from the truth an example of the pride she feels about the woman she has become?
What about rumors that this entire affair was a fabricated charade?
Why can’t the Other Woman be located anywhere online?
I’ve said before that I don’t have enough faith in their acting to believe that Tori and Dean are performing fictional breakdowns for the cameras, but there is something fishy about a 28-year old woman who can’t be found anywhere on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Google.
“She exists,” Dean swears.
And really – why would a viewer not believe Dean? Has he not proven himself to be a man of fine judgment and honesty by agreeing to be both a participant and a producer on a show on which it was revealed that he tattooed his wife’s name in the possessive form over his dick and then cheated on her and that he’s a suicidally-inclined addict and alcoholic?
By no means, as I tear these two people to verbal shreds, do I intend to indicate that I am perfect or that I am someone who has not made mistakes that hurt both others and myself. But I would never consent to broadcast those incidents. I wouldn’t do it for a paycheck and I wouldn’t do it to “find my voice,” a pop-psychology proclamation Tori made over and over again throughout the episodes of this series that I watched.
There’s something really fucking warped about someone who believes she’s only able to be her truest self when she’s being recorded by a camera crew.
Other major revelations in the one-hour reunion extravaganza?
· Though she hasn’t looked at the footage, Tori has put her husband under video surveillance.
· Dean recently tattooed his marriage vows to Tori onto his body. They are not on his scrotum.
· Answering whether or not they have had sex since the cameras stopped rolling is information simply too personal to share. Using a barometer for what’s personal, it appears then that a married couple revealing that they have had sex is far more revealing and intimate than telling young children about Daddy’s treatment issues on camera and then broadcasting that family moment across the airwaves.
· Next week includes a bunch of footage that hasn’t yet been aired. Though there’s no explanation of what that mystery footage includes, I’m betting that I’ll see a child’s circumcision and get to hear Tori tell her five-year-old that Santa hates her.
(I’m leaving out the portion of the reunion in which Dean performed a song he wrote for Tori – a song that contained the line “broken trust for a dance with lust” – because it’s June and I’m writing from a room without air-conditioning and I’m already queasy in this heat.)
As a viewer, I made a choice last night to once again be complicit in this horrible excuse for entertainment.
I recorded it.
I watched it.
I spent an hour writing about it.
I am self-aware enough to know that it wasn’t simple boredom or a fleeting curiosity that compelled me to tune in. There’s something dark within me that made me watch people I don’t respect discuss moments that don’t in any way involve me, moments that possibly never occurred in the first place.
I need to get to the dirty, dank bottom of my motivations for this form of voyeurism.
And I need to do it before The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills returns, because then I’ll simply be way too busy.