I think the thing I love most about television is its ability to get you to want to try new things. Now, this isn’t necessarily always a good thing — god knows “Jackass” didn’t save any lives and “L.A. Ink” hasn’t helped anyone get a job at Fox. After too many “Clash of the Gods” episodes, I wasted a month believing I had some grand destiny to spend my days digging up dead people in the Mediterranean, and we can all see how well that worked out.
But lately, I’ve begun to notice a trend: Not all of these shows are encouraging me to do stupid, pointless things with my life. In fact, quite the opposite. Maybe I’m watching the wrong channels, but right here in this paper, I am making the claim that television is trying to refine America, make it more cultured and more than just the home of the ridiculously over-hyped “Boss’ Daughter” Heineken commercial that doesn’t even make sense.
Don’t believe me? Tons of shows are geared precisely toward this cause. Look at “Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” etc. Do you think middle America gave a crap about what the Argentine tango or Viennese waltz are before those shows? Hell, do you think anyone gave a crap about ANY kind of dancing before those shows? Some dance majors and a few rich New Yorkers, maybe. Nobody else. And now look at us! Attendance in ballroom dancing clubs and classes are increasing left and right. Everybody wants to know how to do that sexy Julianne Hough cha-cha. Ballroom dancing isn’t that painful class your mother made you go to when you were seven anymore. Now, it’s a great place to pick up chicks. Who knew?
Speaking of a woman’s place in the world, let’s talk about “Top Chef.” All of a sudden, foie gras foam and chipotle butter are the main interests of your redneck cousins in Kentucky. Your roommate from freshman year who swore she could never make anything that didn’t come in box form is now perfecting roasted chicken in her spare time. More people feel like cooking when they get home instead of ordering takeout. And if they do go out, they make sure it’s someplace Tom Colicchio would approve of. This is what I’m talking about, folks. It’s an artsy hobby revolution.
Even shows like “Hoarders” and “Intervention” are trying to get those of us on a destructive path headed in the right direction. It’s like TV has taken America’s evils and stereotypes upon itself in an effort to improve its collective society as a whole. And I say it’s about damn time. For too long TV has been without a conscience, imparting to the world its never-ending knowledge with no glance at the consequences. Way to take responsibility, TV networks.
So perhaps instead of staying home and watching the 31 season finales TV Guide seems to think can’t be missed (really, TV Guide?), you should break your normal routine and follow your TV-inspired dreams and ideas. Just this once, DO try this at home.