Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Bad Is Too Bad?

And what I mean is, where is your threshold?

We all have breaking points in various areas. Friendship, for example. Most people are willing to maintain friendships with people with differing opinions, but there's always a point at which the friendship just has to end. This might be the point at which you discover your friend owns a Tony Abbott for PM t-shirt, for example; or the point at which you discover your friend is sexually aroused by Fran Drescher. But there's always a deal-breaker.

It's the same with TV. Anyone who loves TV loves at least one terrible show. And by the same token, there's always a show that is a bridge too far.

This occurred to me when watching a little show called Four Weddings. Perhaps you have seen it. If so, my condolences. I had been pretty sure it was going to be my deal-breaker before I even saw it, but out of a sense of duty to my loyal reader (hey that's you!) I sacrificed myself.

Oh my goodness, what a show it is. Here is how an episode of Four Weddings goes:

We open with Fifi Box, making a gallant bid for the world record for Most Unnecessary Host of a Television Programme, standing in the doorway of a church, quivering in that nervous way she always has due to her deep instinctual knowledge that she is in the wrong place, telling us the premise of the show in a manner that obviously an anonymous voice-over person could never do because the task is such a skilled one it requires a famous radio giggle-jockey and weathergirl with a solid record of garnering big votes in FHM's Sexiest Lists from men with peculiar fetishes and poor TV reception.

We then move on to the four brides, who take it in turns to tell us about their lives, and how they will be meaningless without a massive wedding and a free trip to Fiji. Fifi will then explain how each bride is spending between a year's salary and the budget of a small but prosperous Arab state on her wedding, and we meet the ladies' fiances, who are mostly mild, balding men who float about the place wearing a slightly dazed expression, as if they do not quite know how they got into this situation, but have no idea how to get out of it.

Then we move on to the weddings themselves. The weddings fall into four basic categories: Extravagant and Tacky; Cheap and Ugly; Weird and Embarrassing; and Not-Really-Exotic.

For example, on the first episode I watched, an Indian lady had a Not-Really Exotic Wedding, which was promised to us as a "Bollywood Spectacular", but turned out to be a woman in a white dress exchanging vows with a man in a tuxedo, before proceeding to a reception hall where non-Indian food was eatan and an African drummer entered the room for no apparent reason to bang on his drum for about three weeks.

For each wedding, the other three brides come along to judge the event in four categories: Dress, Ceremony, Reception and Food, or something. Each one will in turn tell the camera how disappointing all the others' weddings were and how much better their wedding was/will be. Having given their views on how bland and disgusting the food was, how dull and lifeless the reception was, how weird the ceremony was, and how the dress was ugly and made the bride look like a dumpy toilet doll, they then give scores in each category. The scores will reflect both the brides' desire to make it clear just how much better they are than everyone else, and their essential failure as human beings

During all this, Fifi Box's voice-over, which costs about eighteen times as much as a voice-over from someone who could not possibly be worse, breaks periodically in to make observations that I think are supposed to be wry and witty but are actually just meaningless strings of words shoehorned into the show to assuage the typical TV producer's terror of putting anything on air that doesn't have at least five minutes of complete vapidness from a minor celebrity.

After the scores are tallied, the brides wait outside a house for a limousine, which pulls up and disgorges one of the grooms, the other three having been taken into the woods and shot. Whoever's husband emerges is the winner, and the happy couple are jetting off to Fiji, the Pacific's partyingest military dictatorship, for a dream honeymoon that only a fairly small amount of money can buy. The happy winners will then express their euphoria, given they could never have afforded such a wonderful honeymoon themselves.

Yes! They really say this! One couple said this, right after SPENDING FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ON THEIR WEDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right, Four Weddings is a show about people who will happily spend enough money to rent a Tuscan villa for a month or sail down the Nile, in order to win the prize of a trip to Fiji which they could have bought themselves just by getting a slightly cheaper brand of napkin for their reception.

In other words, it is an insane show about horrible women for whom no price is too high to get their faces on TV, for whom the rest of humanity exists only to service their desire to demonstrate the extent of their vulgarity to the world, and who are filled with such a loathing for their fellow women that one assumes the reason Fifi Box never actually appears in the same place as the contestants is that they'd probably strangle her for wearing nicer shoes than them's pretty bad. I may watch it again due to my basic masochism, but it's pretty close to my deal-breaker.

What's yours? Is it Four Weddings? Is it Australia's Next Top Model which, the hilarity of Murdochgate notwithstanding, forces you to hurl rocks at the screen in anger every time Alex Perry squints his beady little eyes at a lovely young girl as she towers above him in mentally-deranged shoes and tells her she's too short and fat for his liking?

Or are you one of those who will watch pretty much anything, even Random Breath Testing, and whose pressure point has only ever been triggered four hours into Hot Dogs' Up Late Game Show (clip below, for those of you who've forgotten how much you loved it)?

Or are you at the other end of the spectrum, who has taken a strict monastic vow to watch absolutely nothing except shows rated "Mad Men or Higher"?

How bad is too bad? Let me know.


Jane Shaw said...

You need to be more careful Ben. Acquired Brain Injury is a serious condition, particularly for the young. If you keep slamming your brain up against this kind of rock solid turdery you’ll end up in a nursing home taking kerosene baths and having your bottom wiped by a sweaty young nurse named Stan. No-one wants to end up like that.

Ben Pobjie said...

I know, isn't it touching what I go through for my art?

Anonymous said...

I cannot express how much i hate this show - oh no, actually yes I can - except there is no need, as you described it accurately. This show is proof to me that evolution is now running backwards (Well this and 1. hole in the wall. 2. wipeout 3. BRT 4.customs/border anything etc).
If evolution was still moving forward surely dostoyevsky would be replacing Home and Away. I am fast moving to be someone who only buys the series of the wire on DVD just so I never have to even watch the ads for this crap. OMG I am becoming my parents.


Zenfancy said...

I've never watched 4 Brides or whatever it's called - but I trust that it could never be as entertaining as your appraisal.

My threshold lays in a different part of the reality realm, far away from the foreign lands of ANTM and 4 weddings.

It's somewhere in the triangle of Big Brother (RIP), COPS and Border Patrol (or Border Security - or whatever it's called).

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Two and a Half Men. I don't need to explain do I?

I've seen the ads for the show of which you speak - even saw you tweet the hell out of it and I am grateful you took one for the team.

Unknown said...

My line lies with Big Brother. I cannot cop to Big Brother - which is a massive indictment on the show as I'd probably watch the inside of an ant hill if it was billed as Reality Television.

Actually I have another line - Jersey Shore. It burns, it burns!

Anonymous said...

The great thing about TV is not having to watch it anymore. We have recorders to record it, twittererers making fun of it as it airs and reviewers/pundits telling us what to think of it afterwards. TV sorted.

ImpotentAnger said...

I think Keeping Up With The Kardashians is the straw that broke the tv camel's back.

At least with most reality tv you can see why it's been created, no matter how banal the reason.

But the point of following around 5 vapid females, all of whom have weight issues and only one of which you'd sleep with, possibly, if you'd have a couple of beers, is a point that escapes even my fertile imagination.

I can't even figure out how it started, even Wikipedia doesn't know. One day it wasn't there, the next day it squatted over our tv schedules like some vile demon from the nastier pits of hell.

ImpotentAnger said...

Also, Wipeout UK is terrible. Who thought Richard ON HIS OWN would be a good idea??

"oh he's on, no he's he goes up a slide....and he's off....oh dear....tum ti tum...I'm so fucking middle class it hurts..."

The Hamster is barely funny on Top Gear. Thank god for the mute button, then I can imitate the vastly more amusing presenters of the US edition.
Also, not enough fat people on the UK one. Fat people were put on earth to amuse us less weightier types and we shouldn't be denied this avenue of amusemment.

Elias said...

Following this blog as of now.

I'm the monastic vow person, I only watch Man vs Wild, and SBS documentaries.

And Mixed Martial Arts, but that's different.

Anonymous said...

Any current affairs show, Naomi Robson makes my skin crawl, let alone any of the content...

That and all of the RBT, Border Security nonsense! Who watches that?! Seriously? Even my grandparents - who watch 4 hours of television a night, including Packed to the Rafters regularly - don't watch that scare-mongering crap.

Thank GOD for television online, crap free, sans ads.

Ben Pobjie said...

There's a theory that Today Tonight is just there to make Packed to the Rafters look better by comparison.