Saturday, 18 August 2012

TV is a Big, Fat Liar

Married life seems to involve a lot of TV-watching. After a long day of preserving his nation's heritage and fostering its intellectual and artistic advance, B.A. comes home and flops down before the telly. Incidentally, he says I may go to night school if I want to. I said, "That's not the point. I see you only in the evenings."

On the other hand, mostly in the evenings I see him watching the telly, ha ha ha. Night school!

Anyway, I watch more TV than I did when I was Single. When I was Single I either didn't have a TV or I lived with my parents, and I hated their shows. They seemed to watch a lot of shows with yelling and screaming and bad things happening to bad people and good people finding their mangled corpses at the crime scene. I could just stomach Bones but not Buffy. Definitely not Buffy. House was okay.

Many American shows make it over to the UK. Among them are The Big Bang Theory, which I like, and Two Broke Girls, which I loathe.

I like The Big Bang Theory because it is about scientists, and it makes math and science seem cool and adventurous while poking gentle fun at boyish obsessions with comic books and sci-fi shows. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is a great comic character, and as far as I can determine, he is celibate. Okay, his celibacy is presented as a facet of his weirdness, but at least someone on TV is not obsessed with sex.

Two Broke Girls is obsessed with sex, and in a particularly nasty way. A week ago, it featured the protagonists being crudely propositioned by two Orthodox Jewish boys at a bar mitzvah party. (The boys even throw money at them. It is suddenly okay again to portray Jews like this?) Last night it featured at least three one night stands and, if I get this right, Alex having sex with a prison guard as a bribe so Caroline will be allowed to visit her imprisoned father. Ha, ha.

Alex doesn't believe in love, as she tells the "one night stand" who recognizes her at the prison. She doesn't recognize him; he has her face tattooed to his chest. Alex is supposed to be super-cool, the practical, straight-talking one. But, actually, women who don't believe in love and have a lot of one-night stands aren't cool or practical. Their behaviour is dangerous, physically and mentally unhealthy and not worthy of emulation.

Nobody can tell me that "it's just TV" so I shouldn't worry about this. But Sex & the City was also just TV, and I have seen young women in Edinburgh, four abreast, striding tipsily along as if to invisible choirs singing "Here Come the Girls...", as drunk on Girl Power as they were on vodka.

I've seen Scotswoman of two generations thronging in Paisley airport on their way to hen parties in Ibizia wearing tiny outfits, T-shirts proclaiming their sexual availability, accessories. They did not get their fashion sense from either John Calvin or Alexander McCall Smith.

And when the dumped, furious English girl on a documentary about English girls in Ibizia said, "Women should have sex just like men," she was quoting Sex & the City, Season 1, Episode 1. Where she got her subsequent expression, "pump and dump", I haven't the slightest idea, although if I were her mother I would be ashamed.

Actually, I don't have to be her mother. I am ashamed that women now say things like that on television. Call me retro, but I think it is one of Woman's earthly tasks to keep men at least somewhat civilized, and how is that possible when legions of women are acting like complete barbarians themselves? Chaste women used to sneer and isolate unchaste women for a reason, and that reason was that unchaste women were (and are) a serious threat to social order. Not just THE social order, which admittedly might be a terribly unjust one, but SOCIAL ORDER itself.*

Okay, so maybe chaste women took things too far. After all, Our Lord did go and talk to that polyandrous woman who was all by herself at the well. Of course, he was not showing by this that polyandry was okay, but that He loves everyone and calls whomever He calls to follow Him.

Polyandry (or serial monogamy, as it is misleadingly called) is not okay. One night stands are not okay. They're not funny. They're sad. They're dangerous. The more men a woman has sex with, the more likely she is to contract HPV, a very common, sexually transmitted virus which male carriers cannot be tested for, which can destroy your fertility and which is the cause of cervical cancer.

Condoms do not seem to protect against HPV, which is no doubt why health authorities are so interested in innoculating 15 year olds against it. And why all women who have been sexually active should have Pap smears every two years or so.

I find it terribly ironic that the cancer Samantha in Sex & the City came down with was breast cancer. She was haunted by the thought that it may have been caused by her rampant promiscuity, so she is vastly relieved to find a nun in her oncologist's waiting room. Sex does not result in cancer, is what we are told. But, actually, it can.

Alex supposedly so cool; Sheldon is supposedly a freak. But I know who I'd rather be. The more Alex indulges her libido, the less happy she is likely to be. To be happy, all Sheldon has to do is stare at a mathematical equation. Now that's cool.

*And, yes, so are unchaste men, and it is a hallmark of the suspension of civility, i.e. war, when large numbers of men just start looting and raping or queuing outside brothels.


sciencegirl said...

I love "The Big Bang Theory." I'm afraid it's depiction of scientists is, um, pretty accurate! I just was out playing board games with my friends last night, having the time of my life. One of our games was even on the show once.

I have never even heard of "Two Broke Girls." Sounds like I'm not missing out!

amlovesmusic said...

I watch a lot of TV myself, but it's all through Netflix. I have seen a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and I find it cute and funny. It's not on Netflix yet, so I can't indulge in watching all the episodes.

Right now my obsession is How I Met Your Mother. I just started it a couple of months ago, and now I am almost through season 6. It is refreshing and funny, despite the characters' attitudes towards sex. They also view it as recreational. And the character of Barney Stinson is famous for his promiscuity - that is his character, a nymphomaniac. I would never associate with someone like him in real life, but his one-liners are great in the show.

Hm, Two Broke Girls is a show I have never heard about. I won't be finding out now!

Jam said...

Ohhh, I don't find Big Bang Theory funny, myself. IT Crowd = a scream, but the bits I've seen of BBT... Ah well, that's how it goes.

The show I love, love, love, is Parks and Recreation. Probably precisely because while romantic storylines are part of the show, the real core is the love that the main character Leslie Knope has for her small town. Leslie's a competent woman working her dream job, and she's enthusiastic for her friends almost to a fault. Comparatively speaking, the show has probably some of the healthiest depictions of relationships out there. I would note that the young-love couple's big romantic impulse is to get married on a whim (shortly after they move in together, but still!). And the wannabe playboy Tom is clearly also looking for real love and commitment. PLUS the show is hilarious without being gross or mean. I might be painting too rosy of a picture -- I mean, it's still a major network show with "hollywood" values -- but comparatively speaking, it's great. The first season is not very good, but if you start with season 2, you'll catch on to who all the characters are quickly enough and I think you'll love it. (Fair warning: the first episode of season 2 is IIRC gay-rights themed. If that's going to put you off, just start at season 2, episode 2.)

I suppose recommending TV is sort of missing the point of the post... ;) I think the most insidious impact TV has had on me was giving teenage/college me the idea that drawn out, dramatic, and complicated was how "real romance" was supposed to be. Duhhhh, I am not a fictional character, we don't have to date for five years before getting engaged during sweeps week! :P

Jam said...

Also, PS, Leslie Knope throws Galentine's Day parties every year for her female friends. Shades of Operation Valentinus? Parks & Rec! Parks & Rec!

Kate P said...

A lot of good points made, Seraphic.

I think the character you're referencing in "2 Broke Girls" is Max, if it's the one played by Kat Dennings (she hails from my part of the world). I agree about the crudeness--the cook at the diner is the worst IMO!--but I do like the idea that Caroline has to get past her materialism and deal with her father's incarceration. Also I like that they are saving to start up a business.

My sister got me hooked on "Big Bang Theory" (doesn't hurt that many geeks are cute to me); I do find it interesting that as much as the characters seem obsessed with "getting action" they often are let down when it doesn't have any meaning attached to it!