It’s hard to keep a sunny disposition, isn’t it? One minute you’re feeling optimistic and the next you’re fixated on the question, “How do you socially distance in the park?”
Then you think you’ve got a plan, imagining yourself strolling blissfully by the cherry blossoms that are now guarded by heavy-duty fencing, and while you’re imagining this scenario you change the channel on TV. Accidentally, you land on Fox News and hear Sean Hannity shouting about “The New York Toilet Paper Times.” Then you’re upset all over again.
This column is highly alert to your anxieties. They come in the mail, daily. Now, most people are very nice and upbeat but others present worrying preoccupations. A person wrote to me recently, with a long-ish commentary on the state of CBC TV news. The upshot was an assertion that the anchors are “masquerading as real people,” plus this question: “What’s Rosemary Barton really like?” I cannot answer that. I have no clue. I would, however, suggest a walk in the park, but do not congregate. And do not ask questions like that.
In these addled, anxiety-ridden times, this column offers good news – the temporary end of icky TV. You know, reality series featuring narcissists up to no good. That big British hit Love Island, which has spawned many imitations (the U.S. version ran on CBS four nights a week last year), is cancelled for now. The head of ITV, which launched the atrocity, said, “What signal might it be sending out if we’re doing a show where everybody’s crammed together slavering over each other and the rest of the world can’t go near anyone in the park? I’m a bit uneasy about that.”
Well, some of us are cheering. There will not be a new season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette this summer. This column does not begrudge anyone the pleasure of obsessing about dating shows, but it’s time for a rethink. Besides, fans of ick TV will not be left entirely bereft. In June, ABC will offer relief with The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable – Ever! Yes, that’s what it’s actually called. The 10-episode retrospective promises “The best, craziest and most 'romantic’ moments from The Bachelor franchise.” Note the word romantic is presented in inverted commas. That’s progress: not confusing romance with “slavering over each other.”
In the TV racket, nobody knows what the immediate future holds, but here’s one safe bet – flower arranging. No, seriously, there’s a lot of buzz about The Big Flower Fight, Netflix’s new unscripted competition series launching on May 18. Yes, the geniuses that brought us Too Hot to Handle have pivoted to competitive flower arranging.
The eight-part series uses the template of The Great British Bake Off. Ten “creative teams” battle to create huge flower installations and the series is hosted by Natasia Demetriou and Vic Reeves with the required amount of jocular camp and double entendres. Now, this being the reality-TV department of Netflix, do not expect quiet moments admiring petunias or meditations on the joys of nourishing Lilium speciosum.
In truth, from what this column has seen, some of the floral arrangements resemble the grotesquely baroque figures on The Masked Singer. Still, it’s better to have something fixated on narcissus – the proper name for the daffodil family – than on narcissists in swimwear boasting about their love conquests.
Finally, this column continues with a “stay-at-home-period daily-streaming pick.” Today’s pick is Big Love (Crave/HBO). It ran for five seasons starting in 2006 and stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Harry Dean Stanton. It’s about a polygamist, his life and many loves in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah. At times, especially in the first three seasons, it amounts to a brilliant critique of religion, sex and marriage in America. Paxton plays Bill Henrickson, owner of a chain of home-improvement stores, and in the early episodes, Bill has returned to his fundamentalist roots and is now living undercover in the suburbs with his seven children and three wives settled in three adjoining houses. This is not a lurid show about polygamists any more than The Sopranos was simply a show about mobsters. It can be both droll and merciless about sexual double standards and false piety.
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