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And another thing…

How adorable and wonderful are Tyler and Catelynn? I just love them!

That’s all.

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Just a quick word on Teen Mom.

So, first, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been keeping up with the reality TV lately for two reasons: 1) work, and 2) Mad Men. Mostly Mad Men. It seems that I showed up approximately 4 years late to the Mad Men party and went on a bender to compensate (which seems fitting, doesn’t it?). I actually made it mid-way through season 4 before my Netflix mysteriously puttered out. So I’ve come back to my roots and have started watching my stories* again. Why, just tonight I watched Millionaire Matchmaker (the weird, inbred looking Danish “prince” and the adorable nerd) and Teen Mom! I’m on a roll!

Anyway, what struck me tonight about Teen Mom (which I haven’t been keeping up with at all lately, btw) was how astoundingly stupid Maci is.  Girl is as dumb as a box of rocks. One sandwich short of a picnic. Not the sharpest lightbulb in the deck.  I mean, she has this child, “Bintley,” with her no-good ex-boyfriend, Ryan, and that situation is fraught with tension, and she still hasn’t finished school or really done anything else with her life for the past few years, ’cause, you know, she’s a teen mom, and yet – she wants to have *another* baby with her current boyfriend.  She was like, “I only see Bintley for half the week so I’m just sitting here bored the other half. So I might as well have another baby so I won’t be bored.” Really? No, I mean, really, Maci? Have you learned nothing from Dr. Drew?

Sigh.

*reality TV


The perverse incentives behind MTV’s Teen Mom

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I am turning anti-Teen Mom/16 & Pregnant, the wildly successful (and highly entertaining) MTV franchises that follow the exploits of teen moms, and soon-to-be-teen-moms, respectively. While I love watching these shows, I’m starting to feel sort of dirty supporting them with my viewership, because I think they’re creating perverse and dangerous incentives for teenagers. Although the stated message of both shows is that getting pregnant while you’re in high school is extremely difficult and thrusts you into adulthood before you’re ready, effectively ending your blissful childhood, the practical message of the show is: get pregnant and get paid (and famous)!

The reality behind Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant is that, while MTV claims the shows are meant to educate us on the dangers of teen pregnancy, the real reason they’re aired is because they are lucrative for the network.  MTV has an incentive to groom its pregnant teens so that they stay on for several seasons, and we can follow their exploits from month to month, year to year, thus increasing viewer loyalty to the franchise. I know that I feel invested in the original crop of teen moms – Farrah, Amber, Maci and Catelyn. I mean, aren’t we all curious about whether Amber’s going to get a giant tat of her next baby (yup, she’s pregnant again) to match the tasteful one she recently got of her firstborn Leah?  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1339894/Teen-Moms-Amber-Portwood-tattoos-daughter-Leahs-lifesize-face-waist.html And don’t we all want to stay abreast (ahem) of Farrah’s latest aesthetic enhancements? (Gross).

Since MTV wants these girls to stay on for more seasons of Teen Mom (supplemented by frequent “specials,” which are always earnest fireside chats with Dr. Drew about the ups and downs of parenting), it’s going to pay them and probably provide other perks to ensure their continued presence on the network. Although the reported salary for each Teen Mom participant is somewhere around $60,000 to $65,000 per season (no small sum, especially considering that these people are in high school – that’s quite an allowance), Amber recently revealed that her yearly salary is $280,000! http://amygrindhouse.com/amber-portwood-salary.html That’s right, $280,000. That is almost TWICE what I make per year and I am a Harvard-educated lawyer. Think about that for a sec….  Um, isn’t there something kind of effed up about that? This show is telling teenagers (who are notoriously stupid, by the way) that a good way to strike it rich is to get knocked up.  So if you’re a 16-year-old named, say, Kaeylee who doesn’t have a whole lot else going for you, maybe being preggers doesn’t suddenly seem like such a bad option.

On top of the cold, hard cash that MTV is handing over to these babies havin’ babies is the instant fame and media attention that comes with the gig. The teen moms are often featured on the cover of gossip mags, and not just the trashy ones (hi, Life & Style). I mean, even the revered People has gotten in on the Teen Mom bonanza: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20449708,00.html This is serious, guys.

In response to scrutiny over these very concerns, MTV claims that the show “increases awareness” about the issue of teen pregnancy and is thus doing a public service. I’m willing to concede that the show probably does raise awareness and likely has prevented some pregnancies. But it has probably spawned other pregnancies, and has definitely created some really weird incentives for teens who just might be stupid enough to get pregnant on purpose.


Teenage MILFs

Gamber

My cousin told me that this past week’s episode of Teen Mom would make me hate Amber, and she was kinda right. Amber is one of the most disagreeable people ever, and it seems she derives the only joy in her life from ragging on poor, hapless Gary. One of my friends asked recently me if I could figure out what, precisely, Amber and Gary fight about, and to be honest, I have no idea. They are always fighting, but it remains really unclear what the actual problem is.  Gary may be sort of a dim bulb, but I am pretty sure he doesn’t deserve the abuse that Amber constantly heaps on him.

And, whoa, Amber’s dad with his ponytail and gold earrings!  Where did he come from?! I don’t know what I thought her dad would look like, but bedragged, vaguely-Latin mafioso was not what I was expecting. Weird.

Racy

Here’s a question about Maci and Ryan: Maci seems like a smart girl and comes from a supportive, financially well-off family (judging by their big, nice house) — so how the heck did she get involved with a sneering, Ed-Hardy-wearing loser like Ryan? I mean, I guess as a general rule, teens aren’t renowned for making awesome relationship/life choices, but it just seems like Maci would be the type of girl who would at least get knocked up by a nice boy. Go fig.

Nightmarrah

Does it seem to anyone else like Farrah just goes through the motions with her kid? She seems bored the entire time she is with that baby. Sad.  Also, hearing Farrah and her trashy friend talk about their love lives (and Farrah referring to herself as a “single MILF”) was really creepy. They’re teenagers! I felt like I was watching a really boring Sex & the City episode.

Tatelynn

Tatelynn – my faves! One interesting revelation about them: I looked up Richmond, Michigan, which is where Catelynn’s crackhead mom and Tyler’s criminal dad just moved (and is near where Catelynn and Tyler still live) and I learned that it’s not actually that far from where I grew up. It’s only an hour (45 miles) away to the northeast from Birmingham, my hometown.  Surprising! I guess I just assumed they were further north or west in the state, or something.  Anyway. This is probably meaningless to non-Michigan peeps, but there it is.

OMG, when Tyler asks Catelynn’s mom if she approves of him proposing to her, I got goosebumps. So sweet. And when they go to their nice dinner and Tyler proposes, I cried. For reals. The proposal was the sweetest, most heartfelt proposal I think I’ve ever heard. Ugh, love it. Love them.

A good end to a good show!! Can’t wait until the finale special with Dr. Drew!


Farrah’s mom snaps?!

Okay, so I was (sort of) joking in my previous posts when I said that if I were Farrah’s mom, I’d slap the crap out of her, but apparently Farrah’s mom felt the same way, and then some. My lovely cousin Catie Rose alerted me to this little piece of news:

MTV ‘Teen Mom’ Allegedly Choked by Her Mother.

Violence isn’t the answer, Deb. But I see where you’re coming from.


Gamber & Tatelynn

Gamber is the celebrity name for Gary and Amber, one of the most disastrous couples on Teen Mom — and that’s saying something. They are, in a word, a mess. Also, they’re both so irritating that I can’t decide which one to hate more, which is a dilemma. Their baby remains cute. Too bad she has no chance of growing up normal. Also, while I applaud Amber trying to go out and get a job, does it bug anyone else that she was complaining about the color schemes in the apartments she looked at while using “government assistance” to pay for the rent? Glad my tax dollars can help Amber live in a place with a remodeled, white bathroom instead of an ugly green one. Did I mention my bathroom is ugly and green?

Tatelynn (i.e. Catelynn and Tyler), on the other hand, are my favorites. They are so adorable, and I do hope they end up together eventually. I just hope that Catelynn gets to go to college and get her life together, and Tyler gets to join the Air Force first, because I think it’s important that they both get to do their own thing before settling down. They’re teenagers, for goodness’ sakes! But yeah they’re the best. I want to adopt them.

Farrah’s celebrity name would be Nightmarrah. She is horrifically bad. I take back what I said last week about her getting better, because this week she’s totally back to being a terrible person. She’s such a brat, bitching to her mom that she doesn’t like living with her, when her mother is raising Farrah’s child and putting a roof over both of their heads.  Her mom bugs me, too, though, mostly because she lets Farrah pull her bratty B.S., but also because of her voice. Just saying.

Macy and Ryan’s celebrity name would be Racy. Not too much else to say about them, except that I strongly disapprove of Ryan. He’s already a deadbeat dad and he hasn’t even gone through a messy divorce yet. Gross.

That’s all for this week, peeps. Keep it real.

PS. There is a new season of 16 & Pregnant coming in February. Bring it!


Teen Mom rundown!

OMG, I am SO behind in my TV watching. This is obviously unacceptable.  First order of business is to get caught up with Teen Mom. A few brief comments on each girl:

Amber

Amber and Gary are by far the most boring of all of the couples to me.  I mean, they both seem a little nuts and out of touch with reality, but they are strangely uncompelling. Their baby is really cute, though.

Maci

Ryan is good for NOTHIN’. I liked when the truck driving guy tried to set him straight.  Too bad Ryan’s barrier of impenetrable sullenness repels any attempts to talk sense into him.

Farrah

Why doesn’t Farrah open her mouth all the way when she talks? She always talks through her teeth. I don’t like it. I don’t like her.  Although I guess she is being a better mom than she was last week, since she has decided to “take a break from dating” to, you know, care for her child.

Catelynn

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on Catelynn’s stepdad/Tyler’s dad, Butch. Oh, Butch. Butch, Butch, Butch. What to say about Butch? He unabashedly sports a long, flowing mullet. He has a scratch across his face from a fight he got into with Catelynn’s mom. He has at least one outstanding warrant against him.  He only EVER wears muscle shirts, even though he lives in Michigan.

He’s also kind of an a-hole. This clip is from an earlier episode — watch him get into it with Catelynn and suggest that she shouldn’t have given her child up for adoption:

I am truly amazed at how calm Catelynn stayed during most of that exchange. When I was her age, I would have been weeping and screeching and stomping my feet like 2 seconds in (okay, okay, I’d probably be weeping and screeching and stomping around at this age, too). But she kept her cool for a long time while Butch yelled at her and flipped his mullet around. She eventually lost it, but who can blame her? He was baiting her and getting in her face (literally).

It’s also super crazy to me how Tyler, this seventeen year old kid, acts as the parent to Butch in this week’s episode, calmly suggesting that maybe going back to jail will allow him to get his priorities straight again.  How did Tyler and Catelynn get their heads screwed on so straight when their parents are so unstable? Sheesh.

Can’t wait to see what happens next week. I just hope Butch makes a cameo!


I miss Memaw.

Happy Friday. Since I spent the day at work (and got off at 9 pm, yick), I don’t have the immense energy required to give Jersey Shore the full treatment it deserves, so I’m going to kick this thing off with a little discussion of MTV’s Teen Mom.

I am a newcomer to Teen Mom, but I watched every episode of 16 and Pregnant with rapt attention. For one thing, I find the entire concept of teen pregnancy somewhat baffling this day and age. I mean, I get it, kids think they’re invincible and whatever. But what kid today doesn’t know the basics about about birth control? I just don’t buy the argument that teen girls can’t get their hands on reliable contraception — hello, Planned Parenthood is everywhere.  I just don’t get it.

Another fascinating thing about 16 and Pregnant was the wide variety of responses among the girls to the inconvient and scary situation of finding oneself pregnant at 16. One of the teen moms, Catelynn, made the difficult decision to give her child up for adoption rather than trying to raise her in a home where Catelynn’s own mother was abusing drugs. Catelynn and her boyfriend seem wise beyond their tender years for making such a difficult but unselfish decision. On the other end of the spectrum was Farrah, a cheerleader/”model” who made life a living hell for her long-suffering parents, while seeming rather unconcerned with her impending motherhood and continuing to go on dates while preggers. Ick.

Now, on Teen Mom, we get to see how these girls are handling motherhood. It’s a real emotional rollercoaster. Not for the teen moms, so much, but more for me.  I mean, when I see Maci struggling to make her no-good boyfriend Ryan give a crap that he has a child, I feel frustrated. When I watch Amber and Gary sharing a romantic, scented-candlelit meal of Crackerbarrel meatloaf in a cheap hotel room, I feel sad. When I watch Tyler and Catelynn struggle with their decision to give their child up for adoption, I feel compassion. And when I see Farrah go on dates with older foreign dudes while her parents babysit her child, I want to slap a b***h. I’m not a violent person, but I challenge anyone to watch the clip below and not want to smack Farrah upside the head:

Also, I kinda wonder what happened to the other girls who were on 16 and Pregnant but didn’t make it to Teen Mom, like poor Whitney and whatshisface, who both seemed so sincere and earnest and kinda slow. To be honest, I mainly miss Whitney’s ponytail-wearing grandma, Memaw. She was super mean, but she was mean because she cared.

I miss you, Memaw.

Yello!

Hi everyone! Welcome to my new reality TV blog. I am super excited to be sharing my TV musings with you all.

Tonight’s a big night for me on the reality TV front: there’s a new Jersey Shore AND a new Real Housewives of Orange County on, at the SAME TIME. Thank God my DVR is there to prevent me from having to make the painful Sophie’s choice between the two. Crisis averted.

Since there will be a lot to write about after tonight,  I thought I’d use my first post to give you all an idea of the kind of shows I watch and love, so you’ll know what to look forward to here. In no particular order, here are just a few of my current favorites:
  1. The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love: a spectacle of human neediness, fame-whoring, and vapidity that manages to combine, improbably, awkwardness, cattiness, and romantic cliche. I don’t normally watch the Bachelor (the last full season I watched was 8 years ago, when I was 19 and watched such things in a big group of girls) but I’ve already been sucked in by this season, which involves a “commercial airline pilot”/actor named Jake who seems at once sincere, socially awkward, and dimwitted. But he’s hot, so it works. And, needless to say, the women are all awful, heinous human beings.
  2. The Real Housewives franchise: Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey: I watch ’em all. I can’t decide which cast is my favorite – they’re all so unique and wonderful in their own way. It’s kinda hard to beat the Italian, big-haired, fake-boobed, teetering-on-the-brink-of-psychosis vibe that the wives of New Jersey had, though.  Two words: table flipping.
  3. Jersey Shore: Indescribable (much like “The Situation”). “‘The Situation’ is indescribable. You can’t describe ‘The Situation.’ ” — Michael, “The Situation,” describing the situation, Episode 1. Please see http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/17/the-jersey-shore-handbook/?scp=2&sq=jersey%20shore&st=cs
  4. Oprah: Come on, it’s Oprah. You have to watch her. And we only have her for another year and a half, so no excuses.
  5. Parental Control: one of many ingenious MTV shows that mashes up teens, sex, and parents. MTV describes the show this way: “In each episode, concerned parents will be setting-up their precious son or daughter on two handpicked blind dates. And now, Mom and Dad will be meeting with the potential suitors at the MTV offices, where the boys and girls will do ANYTHING to impress them. If Mom and Dad have their way, one of these hot new daters will charm their kid into dumping their old boyfriends or girlfriends. And if this isn’t hard enough for the current flame to deal with, they’ll be watching every moment of these sexy and outrageous dates with the very parents who want them gone.” Trust me, it’s awesome. And, it’s completely scripted and staged, which somehow makes it more entertaining, not less.
  6. Teen Mom: This is a spin-off from the earlier, successful MTV show “16 and Pregnant,” the title of which speaks for itself. You can also probably guess what Teen Mom is about. The trials and travails of teenage mothers makes for great, if not depressing, TV.  One particularly intriguing/vile character is Farrah, a cheerleader who had a baby who she has unceremoniously dumped upon her parents so that she can be free to go out and date creepy, older foreign dudes — you know, so she can just be a “normal teen.”
  7. Secret Lives of Women: this show has first-person accounts from women from all walks of life — but mostly from bizarre walks of life. Each episode has a different, salacious theme, including husband beaters, women of erotica, mail-order brides, polygamists, cultists, child brides, and mothers of murderers. It’s very educational.
  8. The Millionaire Matchmaker: Patti Stanger, professional matchmaker and semi-professional nutjob, sets up millionaires with gold-diggers. Sparks fly.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the veritable smorgasbord of reality TV shows on the air now.  There’s a lot out there, guys. Get excited.

I’ll catch you on the flippy-flip.