Do you ever think that the networks are missing out on the ultimate reality series? What has more drama, sick humor, running mascara, and (sometimes) hair-pulling than widowhood?
When I think of the millions that could have been made on my life in the last few years, it seems like such a waste. Anyone with a camcorder could have followed me around discreetly as I annoyed family members, shocked random bystanders, and started my own wine bottle recycling program and they would have been set for life. (If you’re reading this and you’re a producer, shoot me an email.)
Forgive me if I borrow this from Sophia on “The Golden Girls.”
Picture it. Denver, 2007. A young girl awakens to the sound of a phone ringing. She rolls over in her frightening, but somehow endearing bedhead stage to answer it, thinking that it’s her mother to confirm lunch plans.
Skip to that same girl, who should have had nothing else to worry about other than whether she should be feeding her kids pancakes or French toast for breakfast, racing to the hospital to find her husband on a stretcher and in a neck brace after an accident on his way to work.
Now, depending on whether this show gets picked up by TLC or CBS, they may or may not show the entire hospital scene. Being the PG-13 girl I am, I’m choosing the CBS version. TLC shows a little too much in their baby birthing shows. At least at CBS I know it’s ketchup.
Now, the next few episodes will involve that same girl shopping for overpriced urns, dealing with in-laws when she is (to say the least) ill-equipped, and trying to remember to put her kids’ shoes on the right feet on their first day of school. (In case you’re wondering…I did send my daughter to school with her shoes on the wrong feet.) She does all of this with a smile on her face, knowing that the audience would be uncomfortable with the fact that she’s an emotional wreck.
This would be called “putting off her grief.” She’ll do that until she has a break and they start showing re-runs. In the meantime, she keeps waiting for “The View” to call and schedule an interview.
Skip to the next season. The audience is hopeful. They want to see that this girl is moving on, happy in a widow sort of way, and doing what she can with the situation she’s been handed. And she is really wanting to oblige her legions of fans by showing them that she’s the model widow. She shows that she’s trying to get it together. She’s packing lunches, showing up for work without her slippers on, and switching to sparkling cider. Then they show a scene of her in an elevator with her kids, taking them to their yearly physical exam.
And then suddenly the musak version of “Stairway to Heaven” comes on and she’s a complete wreck.
You would think this show of emotion would go over well with those fans who want to see a little drama. But it really just makes them uncomfortable and switch over to “Shark Week” on Discovery.
By the third season, she starts getting very concerned about making her audience uncomfortable, so she moves on into “I’m The Most Capable Widow You Will Ever Know” mode. She bakes homemade cakes for birthdays, holidays, and the Chinese New Year. She gets up an extra hour early every morning to make sure that her kids’ lunches are made with love. And she has perfected the smile and nod that comes with listening to others talk about how hard it was to flush their fish, Toto.
She doesn’t give a hoot about what the audience thinks. She has long ago given up trying to keep up on her highlights, giving her the less desired “skunk” look. She will, at random, blurt out things that are “socially undesirable,” which the network hates, but keeps the censors in business. She’s tried dating and can’t find one guy to give a rose to.
The network warns that she may get canned so she seriously thinks about giving birth to sextuplets so that she stay on the air.
Possible rose…we’ll call him a bud.
But somehow…between the musak, bad hair, and somewhat bad language…someone real emerges.
And that’s who everyone seems to want to interview.
Catherine Tidd 2011