There’s a phenomenon in reality television shows that I refer to as the “but NEXT WEEK” principle. Basically it has to do with dramatic tension and how–depending on a given show’s construct–each successive episode is even more scary or riveting or unexpected or WHATEVER than the last. Things just grow and grow and there is no going back.
For example: I have a friend who desperately wants to be on “What Not to Wear” on TLC. I’ve nominated her a couple of times, and I suspect that some of her students have as well. But WNTW has already done square-dressing school teachers. They can’t possibly do another one, because now they’re however many episodes in and the people they feature now are regularly heading out to the grocery store wearing nothing but burlap sacks tied up with rope, and for formal events they don polyester jumpsuits in various flowered patterns. The fact that my friend relies overmuch on polarfleece really can’t compete.
When those nanny shows started up, the kids in them were stubborn and rude. By now, you tune in to one of those shows and the nanny is confronting a small army of shrieking minors armed with AK-47s and fully rotating heads.
Tonight I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, as I am wont to do on Sunday nights. And it’s not like I’m unaware that the show is going to make me bawl like a baby; of COURSE it’s going to be touching and heartwarming and make me cry. But I keep watching, because it’s pretty cool that they can build such beautiful stuff from the ground up in a week when it took me two months to get the floor guy to come install the vinyl in my mudroom.
I watch for the home design stuff. I do. Shut UP. Because the humanitarian stories they feature–all falling in perfect succession on the “but NEXT WEEK” spectrum–are each more heart-wrenching than the previous one. And, seriously, GAH. I am working very, very hard on being completely dead inside, and a show that regularly reduces me to blubbering is just not part of my plan. But I can’t. stop. watching.
At this point, I think I can admit that I am powerless over my addiction to Ty Pennington. Rather than removing the trigger events from my viewing schedule, I think the best I can hope for is to better prepare myself for the drama. Perhaps if I knew in advance what’s to be presented, I wouldn’t be so deeply affected by it. That’s what I’ve decided to familiarize myself with each upcoming episode. Next week I plan to be completely dry-eyed, I tell you.
NEXT WEEK on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition….
Ty and the team take on the Kerflibbitz family! Join us as they venture to the backwoods of Small Town, USA, where the extended Kerflibbitz family lives in a mud hut they build from dirt dredged from the river, painstakingly packed together with the ashes of fifteen family pets that have all met with horrible catastrophes. Ma Kerflibbitz died in a freak aerosol cheese accident shortly after the birth of their twelfth child. Young JimmyJoeBob will never know his mother, but of course he has other challenges even more pressing, given that he was born with no legs and fifteen and a half fingers. Pa Kerflibbitz not only cares for all twelve children, his aging parents, two sisters, and several strangers who wandered into the hut one day, he works double shifts at the tackle store and cruisades tirelessly for the rights of homeless, one-eyed, diabetic vegans.
Tune in to witness the palatial mansion the team puts together for them… including Ty’s “secret project” of a roller rink where all the concession stand proceeds go directly to struggling organic farmers. You won’t want to miss each close-up of the gaggle of Kerflibbitz urchins as they ooh and aah over their new digs… especially when little EppieMae’s eyes go round at the sight of a bag of rice.
Next Sunday, I’ll be cold like ice. Sears can bite me.