A big 'Bravo!' for cable channel
Bravo: It's not just for "Queer Eye" anymore. Until recently, Irwin and I weren't able to get the local networks at the family compound. Although we don't live that far from Fargo-Moorhead, we're apparently in some sort of Electronic Bermuda Tria...
Bravo: It's not just for "Queer Eye" anymore.
Until recently, Irwin and I weren't able to get the local networks at the family compound.
Although we don't live that far from Fargo-Moorhead, we're apparently in some sort of Electronic Bermuda Triangle, where TV signals are never heard from again. For the past 2½ years, I have been deprived of such quality network programming as "Paradise Island for Circus Midgets" and "Paris and Nicole Slop the Hogs."
The only thing that has satisfied my TV addiction is the Bravo network, which has beefed up its one-time staple of Cirque du Soleil performances and "Inside the Actor's Studio" re-runs with some smart and sassy programming.
If you don't get Bravo, you might want to befriend someone who does. They can tape the programs for you or - even better - invite you over, mix up a couple of queereyetinis and guide you through the summer reruns.
Some of the highlights:
-"Significant Others": Unlike most of the "reality" TV out there, this revolutionary sitcom is actually unscripted.
An ensemble of funny improvisational actors portrays four couples going through marriage counseling.
Addressing the camera as if it were the therapist, they bicker and quip their way through a variety of dilemmas and antics. In one, free-spirited Chelsea drinks a tad too much at her stuffed-shirt husband's office party, and proceeds to tell his co-workers embarrassing stories about him.
In another, busy career parents Alex and Devon fret they aren't spending enough time with their child. "I'm a good mom. Make that a great mom," Alex says. "When our nanny, Carolotta, is not around, I am always the first one our son turns to."
Boasting a terrific chemistry among the players and a spot-on view of modern relationships, it's the type of innovative, painfully true comedy that more sitcoms could learn from.
-"Showbiz Moms and Dads": It's unlikely there will be a second series of this reality program. After its explosive debut - which netted chat rooms dedicated to condemning the show's ambitious parents - no stage-mom in America would make the same mistake.
Most of the vitriol was aimed at Debbie Tye, a Florida mom who entered her 4-year-old Emily in beauty pageants. Tye fed Emily Pixie Sticks for breakfast, dressed her to look like Jon Bonet Ramsey and chastised her tired daughter with rants like: "You're 4 years old. Now act like it!"
Another villain was the aptly named Duncan Nutter, who herded his clueless wife and seven unenthusiastic children to New York to force them to become actors.
Grinning like a deranged elf, Nutter is so obviously living through his children - and oblivious to their disinterest and lack of talent - you almost feel sorry for him. But not quite.
-"Blow Out": Set in a tony Beverly Hills hair salon, this reality series was made by the creators of "The Restaurant."
Just like celebrity chef Rocco from "The Restaurant," salon owner Jonathan Antin is egotistical, good looking and profoundly irritating.
Prone to whining that "I just want to cut hair," "I don't want to be the bad guy" and "Nobody understands me," Antin proceeds to smooch up to his wealthy clients, alienate his diva-esque employees and bully people like his sweet assistant Kimberley.
In short: If you can get past the irritating plugs for American Express and Lens-Crafters, it's all good, nasty fun.
- "Things I Hate About You": The newest addition to the Bravo arena is part game-show/part reality TV. It challenges man and wife to describe the most irritating habits about their spouses. It then shows video footage of each spouse engaging in the aforementioned behavior, while challenging a panel of judges to rate which person is more annoying.
The spouse deemed less annoying then gets to choose an activity to punish their more irritating mate for bad behavior. (One preview, for instance, shows a woman shooting paint balls at her husband's beloved SUV.)
I've only seen one episode, but it looks promising: A husband with an ear-splintering array of gastrointestinal emissions squares off against his wife, a chronic nag who treats the dog better than she does him.
"Daily Show" alum Mo Rocca is the host, injecting a mock seriousness into the whole circus.
All I can say is "Bravo."
Swift writes a weekly column for The Forum. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .