Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why Desperate Housewives + Sex in the City=Edutainment TV today

I considered softening that title with a question mark, but in my mind it's not much of a question.

First, let's establish just what I mean by edutainment.

Edutainment- leisure programs that educate as well entertain.

Let's take a brief look at why I've singled out these two programs. I turned on the TV a couple of days ago and saw a promo for another channel that will be bringing Sex in the City beyond the realm of HBO. I paused to think about how many women I'd heard use a character on the show as some frame of reference. The show has taken on viral proportions in syndication and that made me wonder if a similar fate awaited the newly touted Desperate Housewives.

Remember that book that was born from that now infamous catch phrase, "...just not into you" that has become a part of the American lexicon? Isn't that evidence that the show is teaching whether the people involved in creating it want it to or not. Sure some could argue the value of that particular lesson, but why doesn't anyone ask this one....

What kind of person doesn't know this when they're fast approaching 40 years of age?

I mean, how many years of dating, being dumped, sleeping around, and generally degrading yourself does it take to get that? I was trying to school my friends on that kind of stuff when I was 14 years old and I have the letters to prove it ;-)

I think there's a huge problem if a television show, rather than your life is educating you about how not to be a fool. The scores of women who reportedly wrote into the show inspiring the writing of the book mentioned previously are proof of the point I'm making here.

What you do is either taking you closer to or further away from what you really desire.

The problem, as I see it, is with the miseducation that occurs even more frequently as women look to these kind of shows to understand themselves or their lives. Prompted by a client who swore by the show, I did watch the final episode. Who thought that having the man you love finally presenting you with his real first name was indicative of a happy ending?

Now Desperate Housewives offers married, and often middle aged women, the same buffet served on a different table. The meal still stinks. Perhaps the designer fashions and parade of "beautiful people" are supposed to distract from the ugliness of the stories?

Why are there so many wedding magazines, television shows, books and websites while at the same time it's considered passe to end a movie with a wedding? How did this notion of right person for now morph into the notion marriage?

In my conversations with women I am surprised by how many religously watch week after week until the characters become the friends that understand their deepest and darkest secrets or inspire them to make secret fantasies reality.

Am I the only one struck by the lack of depth of this kind of characterization of women's lives? Why are so many people relating to these lost to themselves, materialistic, shallow people that television art has breathed life into?

Better yet, if you're one of those people, do you aspire to fill yourselves on a rehashed meal that someone has scooped off the floor or does that variety of edutainment inspire you to be be better, not just on the surface but in the quality of person that you are inside. Or perhaps you just want validation that you're not as messed up as you fear?

The life you move through each day is the result of what's going inside, whether you admit it or not. Even if your secrets are well kept, you know what they are, you live every day fearing everyone else will know too. That is a point that goes right to the heart of what real self esteem is based on or why it is severely lacking.

So much emphasis is placed on how things appear that I fear no one cares anymore about what a thing, or a person, actually IS. What I see in magazines, commercials, and TV shows doesn't resemble anything I'd classify as beautiful....It is mostly empty and pushing the same old misogynistic images of women that mainstream media has always hyped (with few exceptions).

As a woman I know we tend to define ourselves by our closest relationships. But what happens when you avoid facing your true motivations for creating the life/relationships you have?

I guess if there's any value, besides to the advertisers for whom the show was really created, it'd be that it could prompt viewer (loyal or otherwise) to ask themselves this question.....

What unmet needs are being denied that drive someone to become their own worst enemy? And more importanly---

What's it going to take to change that?


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