Really Six Feet Under – The Advocate, 9/30/2001

The reality of television for me is that I haven’t been able to watch much since the Bush Cryo-Junta. Even the solace of the Weather Channel is gone because Florida still dangles there as a limp reminder. When Walker, Texas Ranger was canceled, I was shocked to learn it had been on for nine seasons. It had always looked like a rerun, perhaps because Chuck Norris’s hair had remained the same despite incredible advances in the follicular sciences.

Ever since the Nutworks and the Supreme Court ordered up four years of The W-Files, it too has had the humid air of a summer rerun. Old ideas-evil empires, abortion, oil oligarchies, Star Wars, Clinton reimpeachment, gay invisibility. Old guys – Tick Cheney, Ariel Sharon, Donald Rumsfeld. It’s like Antiques Roadshow, but without any gay men telling us how much our stuff is worth.

When W. was not “thinking hard about stem cell research” on his “working vacation” at home in the heartland, where he had once awaited his foregone selection, his aides previewed the syndicate’s Fall Values. Their goal is to show the real Bush – not some airborne tumbleweed bouncing by, rootless, able to survive in an arid land-but the Bush who is “thoughtful” and “ruminative.” Deep.

They’re looking for spectators, not citizens. Bush is so TV. He is That ’70s Show. Everything new is old again. The “new” season is bringing us more reality shows, more white guys talking to each other, more blonds, more humiliation, more openly closeted people, more fair and balanced unfair unbalanced propaganda.

CNN promises, “We’re doing things different.” Like what? Not using adverbs? Not using chairs? So many CNNchor people are standing, it looks like open mike night at Caroline’s Comedy. They do stagy head turns to interview talking heads on Jambi screens with market quotes, headlines, weather, all blinking like an optic migraine I once had. Obviously they have laid off all their gay designers. They are trying to bring in the younger viewer or touch off adult-onset ADD. Has the Ritalin patent run out yet?

When we pick up that thick, glossy TV Guide Fall Preview, here are a few shows we may be seeing.

Everybody Loves Ronald
Though he tripled the deficit and never mentioned the term “AIDS,” Ronald Reagan was our go-to guy. Now watch Bush 43 turn into a chip off the old Gip, especially at nap time!

McCain in the Middle
The pilot shows the hilarious demonization of this nutty little Republican. He’d rather be a prisoner of war for eight years than have a private meeting with Cheney in Tick’s private office, known affectionately as “The Torture Chamber.” Ha-ha!

My Four Sons
Dick “Hey, Collagen Man!” Clark says he wants to produce a show like The View for men, because “women don’t get to see four men sitting around talking.” I ran my irony meter over the statement, and the needle did not move. Let’s start with Barb’s boys, the un-Kennedys, sharing about baseball stadiums, offshore drilling, and being born again again.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Not the improv show that is the only thing I can safely watch these days. It’s interactive! You’ll parse a speech from Bush’s brilliant speechwriters. Hit your buzzer when you hear tautology: “It is American because it is America”; metaphor: “Rocks in the storm, feathers in the wind”; or exaggeration: “When the American people elected me.”

Who Wants to Be a Petromillionaire?
You can get all the family lifelines and audience help you want. Instead of ominous music, we’ll do rolling blackouts. It’s not for everyone!

Faux Headline News
Rupert Murdoch’s guys and blonds fume over crises like Bill Clinton’s $10 million book deal. He got more than the pope! It’s obscene!