Sunday, January 11, 2009

As seen on TV

I'm a people-watcher. It's probably the biggest reason I moved to New York City nine years ago. Whether it's observing feces-smeared crazy people from a safe distance on the train or taking in an angry woman's threats to sue Macy's for not letting her return a sweater, NYC is a hotbed of people-watching activity.

This fascination explains a lot about my TV-watching habits. For example, I've been super Real World fan #1 since its debut in 1992 and am thrilled that the new season 21 was shot in Brooklyn. Not only do I get to observe the show's first transgender roommate, I get to see it all happen in familiar settings ("hey, I've had lunch in that place where Katelynn is coming out to JD!").

I like to think of my people-on-TV-watching as a self-guided anthropology course. It's only a matter of time before there are graduate courses on The Real World (if there aren't already), which I'd be very qualified to teach. I'm guessing I'm the only person who bought MTV's The Real World Hawaii: True Confessions, a 1999 tell-all book that currently has a place in my home library alongside other anthropological classics such as The Harmless People and Aztecs of Central Mexico. Seriously, I could talk for days about the impact of The Real World on our culture (so I'll stop now -- you're welcome).

A quick glance at some of the more academic titles in my home library, including a BEHIND-the-behind-the-scenes look at Ruthie and her drinking problem (center).

After a childhood of Sesame Street and The Electric Company, I've been trained for this line of study. Beyond voyeuristic pleasure, people-watching-on-TV can be very educational. For instance, I learned many things today that I would've never known if it weren't for CMT's season 3 premier of My Big Redneck Wedding, such as:

1. You can get custom wedding rings in camouflage.
2. Limos also come in camouflage.
3. You can get married in a duck blind.
4. When writing your own vows, anything goes ("I will drink beer with him always").
5. Same lawlessness for wedding cakes, which can be layers of cupcakes, Zingers, Ho-Hos, Twinkies and Jello shots.
6. Wedding toasts are also a free-for-all ("buuuuuurrrrrrp!").

This show has fast become one of my favorite anthropological studies (is it any wonder that MTV owns CMT?). How else would I know that deodorant can also be used on one's face to prevent unwanted perspiration?

From CMT's "Biggest Redneck Wedding Ever" in which Tom Arnold made Elaine and Bruce's dreams come true in the muddiest beer fest yet. Here, Elaine demonstrates how she plans to keep dry in all that mud and beer.

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