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The Times
  • Get a Life: TV execs are to blame for a profusion of pathetic programming

  • Columnist Loretta LaRoche has joined the ranks of ‘Downton Abbey’ devotees. She’s impressed by the PBS TV show’s characters and dialogue, among other things. As for much of the “reality” programming she comes upon while TV surfing, she’s appalled.

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  • Last night I had my first experience with the PBS phenomenon “Downton Abbey.” So many of my friends have fallen in love with the series and have kept encouraging me to watch.
    I, too, have become a devotee of the program. The characters, clothing, castle and dialogue are exquisite.
    Actress Maggie Smith has some of the best lines, which are often filled with razor-sharp wit. The sarcasm rolls off her tongue and so quickly that her victims don’t have time to react before she skewers them again.
    The contrast to some of what TV executives have decided is programming fit for the public is astounding. There are so many reality shows today that seem to focus on individuals that are becoming famous for being dysfunctional, or excessive in all areas of their lives.
    When I am aimlessly surfing to see what I might find that is fodder for a column, I am blown away by what I see – shows like “Duck Dynasty,” “Swamp Men” and “Buried Alive,” a show on hoarding. And, of course, there’s the infamous Honey Boo Boo.
    Kathleen Parker from the Washington Post said “the Honey Boo Boo family proudly shares even that which Beano intends to prevent. The show has become a hit simply because no one can believe that anyone lives like that. But you would think after seeing it once that you would not want to wallow in the muck with them.”
    What I fail to understand is why there are so many shows that appear to thrive on using degradation and humiliation to entertain the public. I’m sure I’ll hear from some readers who think I’m being a snob. Well, guess what? I am!
    There are so many talented, actors and musicians who need work. Why are the networks choosing to inundate us with shows that are essentially pathetic?
    The latest reality show on the docket is called “Buck Wild.” It focuses on the antics of young adults in rural Kanowha, W. Va. Sen. Joe Manchin, a local politician, has railed against the show, asking the station to remove it. He could not understand why the programmers would not want to showcase his state in a more tasteful way. Well, Senator, you’re missing the point. There are more than 900 stations now, all vying for viewers. They have to fill hours and hours with programming. Once the Snooki franchise took off because of its excessive cursing, shoving and over-the-top clothes and nails, they thought, “Hey, America is digging this. Let’s see how far we can go.”
    So here we are, and where it will all go is not too much of a mystery. I’m sure if we stay on this track, we will get further and further into the dark and stupid side of humanity, unless more people say “enough” and don’t tune in.
    Page 2 of 2 - Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send email to GetALife@lorettalaroche.com, visit www.stressed.com, or call toll-free 1-800-99-TADAH (82324).

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