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Where has all the content gone? (Pt. 1)

March 18, 2010

Television without Pity was on my daily Web site round up for a long, long time in the scale of all things Internet. It had earned my interest with its witticisms, inside jokery, and insightful snark on the hodgepodge that was early 21st Century television. It was also unexpected: it’s hard to read online (studies have shown this, I swear), so it’s particularly difficult to read 13 or 14 screens’ worth of text, but for writing this funny and amusing, I did it. So did many other people. Take for example, this chunk from Grey’s Anatomy, a few seasons ago:

but I lose track of all that [Meredith’s] saying when we see her and Derek in a bubble bath together. Mer seriously, seriously, seriously tries to keep Derek on track of taking things slow. It’s a good first step with the bath, guys — that’s what I do when trying to avoid hitting a home run in a single evening.

No, it doesn’t add to the synopsis per se, but it’s worth a good chuckle and it points directly at the nonsense of the show (e.g., Meredith and Dereck’s absurd relationship) while maintaining its love of what about GA is so enjoyable. In short, it prioritized what I prioritized about the shows I watched—it appreciated their strengths and guffawed at their foibles. Here’s another example, this one from the second season of House that has run on syndication something like 67,284 times since it originally aired:

Hannah denies doing drugs, but Cameron doesn’t believe her, figuring that people who lie to their girlfriends must also lie about everything ever. She shoves a tube down Hannah’s throat, and asks her whether she cares about all the painful tests Max is going through on Hannah’s behalf without knowing the truth. It’s not like Hannah can answer her with that tube in her mouth. This is like when your dentist asks your questions when she’s in the middle of cleaning your teeth. I hate that. At least my dentist isn’t yelling at me for having questionable morals, though. She does yell at me for not flossing enough sometimes, though. And, as painful as those tests Cameron is doing on Hannah are, it’s probably even more painful for her to hear one of Cameron’s Trademark Morality Lectures. I know it is for me.

I watched that scene and had some of the same responses. It’s not that I insist television be a crystalline mirror of reality, it’s that I want the plot to be believable and the characters to have consistency. I felt that I TWP was my partner in all of this. Their contributors would hammer away at unjustifiable plot points and gaps in logic.

And then, the bottom fell out. Bravo bought TWP. They insisted it wouldn’t change the content, just like Rupert Murdoch insisted his grossly conservative views wouldn’t affect his purchase of Fox News, and I think we all know how THAT turned out. And yes, Bravo in this instance became the 19th Century villain, twirling its thin mustache and snickering behind its evil cape, hiding next to the saloon doors at sunset. For TWP is now awful. Something else does suck like an Electrolux. One example, a recent Grey’s episode:

[Lexie] finally decides to wait with the sheet pulled back to show off her lovely lady lumps, and of course that is the moment that Derek, not Alex, walks in to the room. They both yelp, horrified, and as Derek flees Meredith appears in the door. Alex left ten minutes earlier (shame Derek didn’t realize that before he walked in) and when Mere asks, Lexie admits that she and Alex have been hooking up since Mere caught them the first time. She warns her little sister that Alex is emotionally like she was three years earlier and therefore totally unsuitable as a crush. Lexie tries to claim that it’s just sex with no feelings, but Mere laughs her off because she knows Lexie too well, and points out, “Your heart lives in your vagina.” Lexie tries to deny it and then, realizing that it’s futile, tells her it’s not like that this time. Mere laughs in her face about this and heads off to work.

I cannot believe that a line like “your heart lives in your vagina,” goes without any snark whatsoever. “Lovely lady lumps”? So we can have a wee bit of sexism here, but not any cutting snipe about the way Meredith talks to her sister? Nothing like “my heart lives in a two-bedroom condo but my vagina lives at the beach?” There’s nothing, nothing here but dull synopsis. I mean, sure, that’s what happened in the scene, but….

What the hell is this? This is Bravo not wanting to criticize other studios? Because it’s afraid, what, of ABC?

Wasn’t this a foreseeable tension when they bought the enterprise? It’s a Web site that puts down television shows! For the love of Pete!

It goes without saying that I pulled this from my regular reading queue. It’s not that the writing is bad, but it’s like hanging out with a friend after their religious conversion, and you really just wish they would, one last time, wear a lamp shade on their head because they’re drunk enough to think that’s funny.

TWP is actually without a lot of things now.

Next part: what the hell happened to

Everett complains about a lot of things over on his own blog, trans/plant/portation.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 6:24 pm

    I cannot believe that a line like “your heart lives in your vagina,” goes without any snark whatsoever. “Lovely lady lumps”? So we can have a wee bit of sexism here, but not any cutting snipe about the way Meredith talks to her sister? Nothing like “my heart lives in a two-bedroom condo but my vagina lives at the beach?” There’s nothing, nothing here but dull synopsis. I mean, sure, that’s what happened in the scene, but….

    There was so much delicious fail in that scene that I had to watch it over and really savory it like the last swig of flat back wash diet coke. What was going on there. That scene was completely wasted with Mer “centerstaging” the hell out of it. It could have been a great moment for the producers to ACKNOWLEDGE that Lil Grey and Der have some unchecked shit, which might explain why Der took several mental snapshots before pretending to be shanoozled by walking in on Lex.

    That vadge in the heart was three servings of chicken fried fail.

    TWiP was so wonderful back in its heyday. You could always tell when your cube neighbor was reading it by the painful sounding stifles of laughter.

    What was done here wasn’t even funny or analysis. It was like a sixth grade book report, except worse because at least sixth graders haven’t bothered to read the book or the flap jacket when they come up with shit as weak as that.

    As always, Ev Levi-Strauss, you’ve knocked it out of the park.


  2. Deena permalink
    March 18, 2010 6:37 pm

    Potes is the only good thing left about the site. So sad! I used to read recaps of shows I didn’t even watch, just because they were witty.

  3. March 18, 2010 7:47 pm

    Well that explains a lot! I didn’t know that TWP was bought by Bravo! Sweet work.

  4. March 18, 2010 8:50 pm

    one of my friends was let go from writing for TWoP soon after the bravo buyout, as were several of her friends, so i quickly attributed the DRAMATIC decline in content to bravo, and, more specifically, their dogged refusal to keep the people who were funny and snarky and smart and interesting on staff.
    it is too bad. i agree that when twop was *on,* they could make *the real world* seem on par with *house,* no question. the internets have lost a giant.

  5. March 19, 2010 12:07 am

    Aww, I loved this website. I haven’t visited in a while, guess there’s really no point now.

  6. March 19, 2010 8:13 am

    I was totally unfamiliar with this site, but I did see that ep of Gray’s and found their synopsis unintentionally hilarious and your criticism of it spot-on. Like Cindy Lauper said, “money changes everything.”

  7. March 19, 2010 11:58 am

    I stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy after Isaiah Washington left. I loved the relationship between him and Sandra Oh, it was so cute. I really think the show went downhill after that.

  8. evmaroon permalink
    March 19, 2010 12:03 pm

    It has been a pale imitation of its former self from the first two seasons, but I think it’s been picking up steam lately. I attribute some of this to the absence of TR Knight and Katherine “Diva” Heigl (sometimes I think I hear a collective sigh from the rest of the cast). I’m enjoying the Torres and Bailey storylines, and although I’m not interested in the newish Owen character, I still love watching Sandra Oh. And thank god they’re not focusing on Meredith-Derrick anymore, because that relationship always made me want to poke my eyes out with a number 2 pencil (tip of the nib to the amazing Snarysmachine). Married on a post-it? Trivialize the frustration of those who can’t get legally married, much?

  9. March 19, 2010 2:12 pm

    Married on a post-it? Trivialize the frustration of those who can’t get legally married, much?


    Re: Burke. Okay, I get they needed to scoot Washington along, but why didn’t they JUST GET ANOTHER BLACTOR to play the role. That was one of the finest roles since Frank Pembleton. Hell, they could have gotten Braugher to play it, though he might be a smidge too old. Or Harold Whathistits from LOST or any number of currently under utilized blactors.

    Also, who didn’t love the delicious reversal of fortune with the Jackson sitch. I loved seeing those folks sucking up to him. It’s funny, I remember thinking, “he has the same last name as that damn fakey award they’re always talking about…I wonder…”

    He’s also quite cute in that Wenty Miller way. Sshhh, don’t tell, Hollywood, but I think like Wenty Miller he might be mixed with something. We don’t want another Post-Flashdance-You-Tricked-US-POC fallout on our hands.

  10. March 19, 2010 5:29 pm

    I’ve noticed this on TWOP as well, although I’d managed to obliviously fail to connect it to the Bravo takeover. Jacob is the only recapper I’ve read recently who still says anything interesting in his recaps. Everyone else just… recaps. I can get that anywhere, and more concisely with fewer clicks. Even when I couldn’t understand a word of Jacob’s BSG recaps, I appreciated that he was pushing me to think harder about what I was watching and pointing out things I’d missed. His American Idol recaps are pretty much the only things I read on the site now.

  11. March 21, 2010 7:13 pm

    The recaps are so awful. At times I’m not even sure they’re talking about the show mentioned in the title.

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