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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Couch Potato: Network offer needed ‘TLC’

Television viewers everywhere must feel like they’re living in the past lately. Not only are all our favorite shows coming back to life (if not yet then soon), but, just like in the ’80s, a new home video system has been declared victorious and The Learning Channel is doing some neat stuff.

Blu-ray gives HD DVD the sting

Adam Smith’s "invisible hand" (or should it be fin?) of the marketplace has all but chosen as the preferred format for DVD viewing. In the past few weeks alone, both Wal-Mart and Netflix have jumped on the bandwagon, following in the steps of their respective major rivals Target and Blockbuster. In January the last Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. caved in to industry pressure and now releases high-definition films only in Blu-ray.

The war that has raged for some time now is comically parallel to that between VHS and Betamax, and this time Sony learned from its mistakes. Those who went out and bought HD DVD machines and videos are now stuck with a pile of junk that may, in another 30 years, become some other home video technology’s punch line. Sorry guys.

Second chances abound at TLC

A subsidiary of The Discovery Channel, TLC has become not only a dream come true for couch potatoes across a surprisingly wide range of demographics, but has led the charge in the war on ugly living rooms and become nothing short of a pop-culture phenomenon. In a TV Land that is smothered by mind-numbing reality television, TLC has managed to capture a "reality" that is as fresh and interesting as it is educational and highly topical.

We all remember South Carolina’s contestant for 2007’s Miss Teen USA pageant – the pity, the embarrassment, the wake-up call. Our collective "duh" attitude has always been a topic of conversation and concern, but this episode just epitomized and publicized the problem like never before. The cringe-inducing interview segment was all over YouTube and columnists around the globe had to put in their two cents.

At the beginning of the year, TLC saw an opportunity and ran with it. Instead of accepting this kind of behavior, the channel decided to give the formerly glorious Miss America pageant a makeover like only TLC could pull off. The girls evolved into something that could be recognized as human, as opposed to "fembots." The hair, make-up and costumes were modernized and the ceremony brought back "down-to-Earth." The revamped competition has bestowed upon a whole new generation a gander of worthy role models and restored an American classic. And Nielson took notice. You go girls!

But that’s not all. TLC is doing something even more poignant and innovative. For years, programs like Trading Spaces and What Not to Wear have been giving men and women around the country a whole new perspective on life – in addition to the new spaces and wardrobes the shows provide. TLC is now giving mothers everywhere a glimpse into what could have been.

The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom is all about loosening stiff gender roles that have plagued our culture since its inception. Despite the growing numbers of women in the workforce over the past century, the general mindset is still largely the same. The man is the breadwinner, and upon pregnancy, a woman is often expected to give up whatever professional life and ambition she may have entertained before. It’s a sensitive issue and, often, decisions are made that one or all parties may regret.

The objective of the new program doesn’t really mean to rock the boat or anything, but it aims to rectify some of these decisions. Women merely get to reclaim their self identities and experience, for one week, what their lives would have been like if they had not totally abandoned their careers in favor of becoming full-time mommies.

The Secret Life gives hope to women looking for the delicate balance between work and home and shows that living a fulfilling domestic life is possible without giving up the individuality they have worked a lifetime to achieve.

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