Amplifications: TV shows I’d like to seeMore Info
When I was a kid, there was little point in watching TV during the summer. Reruns ruled the airwaves and you were lucky if “The Tonight Show” was original. Not that I was actually allowed to stay up that late, but I’d hang off the foot of my bed and watch Johnny, almost in silence, on an old black-and-white TV with aluminum foil wrapped around the rabbit-ears antenna.
Today there are thousands of choices, from endless cable offerings to streaming services. Yet, on a rainy summer evening, one can spend an eternity trying to find a decent show. If I could produce any show I wanted….
A young gay man and his rotund grandmother travel from town to town, vlogging about restaurants and cafes at each stop. He drives a motorcycle and she sits in the sidecar, kvetching the entire way. He nods, smiles and ignores her.
The grandson is a serious foodie with a distinguished culinary background and a refined palate. Bubbie is a wonderful cook but complains, often, about portion size. He tells her she is a stereotype. She laughs and pats him on the arm and makes sure there is enough left over “for a doggie bag” for the crew.
Bubbie is forever looking for a good match for her grandson. She has been known to pinch a waiter after having a glass of wine and saying with a giggle, “My grandson thinks you’re cute.” Bubbie is no fool, however, and can match her grandson in a culinary discussion that educates the audience as they laugh.
Tiny House Living: One Year Later
Two women, Joan and Maddie, are retired police detectives. They visit the homes of people much too large and silly to be living in a 280-square-foot structure. They discuss divorce proceedings and restraining orders. Children who have outgrown the tiny cupboards in which they have been forced to live, along with their siblings and all personal possessions, are connected with child psychologists.
In one sensational case, the retired detectives monitor the search for a body on the land behind a tiny Conestoga wagon. A giant of a man — 6 feet 6 inches and 260 pounds — had been living in it with his wife, two kids and a large German shepherd. The wagon had no indoor plumbing and the family cooked over a fire pit in all weather. It is believed that the wife, a small woman who suddenly snapped, beat her husband with a cast-iron frying pan and buried him somewhere on the land. No body has been found to date, therefore no charges have been made. The remainder of the family is happily living in a rented condo with a swimming pool.
Why Can’t I Meet a Nice Gal/Guy?
Ten millennial men meet each week in a tragically hip java joint at various locations around the country. The men complain that they can’t meet a decent girl, not realizing that no grown woman wishes to be called a “girl.” Meanwhile, they style one another’s man-buns, complain about their mothers’ cooking or laundry skills, and engage in numerous video games. Often they rate their waitress or women in the coffee shop, comparing them to the women they are simultaneously rating on Tinder.
The next week, 10 youngish women meet to dish the dates they’ve had the previous week or complain about the dates they cannot get. They put make-up tutorials on YouTube and obsessively count the calories in their skinny lattes and low-fat muffins. They use words like “ghosting” and “bread-crumbing.” Some whine about men who will not commit, yet continue to accept late night “dates” and pretend they mean something.
Life Coach Lou
A recovered gambler and alcoholic, Lou has heard it all. A short, wide man who is always chewing on a cigar, he brooks no fools. If you come on the show, expect Lou to point you out for the asshole you are.
Are you always late? Unorganized? Lou will stand over you and mildly tase you into correct behavior. Are you forever bullying people at cocktail parties and ruining family meals by arguing with your in-laws? Lou will monitor you at such events and set off an alarm each time you misbehave. It will scream, “shut up and listen” ad nauseam. You either change your behavior or risk constant embarrassment.
All contestants must prove they are in top physical shape and agree to a surprise follow-up show six months following their life coaching.
Following the format of other recovery programs, the 12 contestants live together in one house. It is completely off the grid, relying on a private well and solar panels. No one is allowed a connection to the outside world. There is no TV and no wifi, and newspapers are banned.
The contestants meet daily to discuss work in the orchard, the garden, the kitchen and the laundry. There is also an animal rehabilitation area where they help critters harmed by a lack of federal protection. Daily meditation is required. No one is allowed to discuss politics for the entire 12 weeks. Many don’t make it, but a select few are able to re-enter the world without screaming at their televisions or constantly Googling “countries that accept Trump refugees.”
A family of five from the south side of Chicago moves north to Canada and cannot cope with the incessant politeness and concern. They are confused by poutine and search endlessly for a good hot dog with a real dill pickle. They cannot shake the taste of maple syrup. In one episode, the youngest son nearly freezes to death while putting out the trash and 17 neighbors run to the rescue, simultaneously saving him and causing severe anxiety.
The family does, however, enjoy having health care. They have a large party when the 17-year-old is finally able to get braces on her teeth. They are trying to adapt to Tim Horton’s, but occasionally sneak across the border for some Dunkin’ Donuts.
The Crossword Connection
A wife whose husband constantly tuned their television to golf games invented this program as retribution for countless boring evenings. She would have preferred watching grass grow to watching golf on TV, and now insists her husband accompany her to each long day of taping the program.
Each week the contestant, who must pass several rigorous tests to be chosen, is matched against an etymologist. They “race” each other, hoping to be the first to finish an original crossword puzzle. Will Shortz, editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, is the show’s judge. A “word camera” zooms in on clues. Moving at a leisurely pace, this is perfect for viewers who know the answers to “Jeopardy” questions but just aren’t quick enough.