Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bitch, Whine, Complain, Repeat

I have a penis.

I mention this fact for a couple of reasons. First because it may help to explain why I don't "get" Tuesday Night Book Club and second, because I suspect I'm probably one of the few people so equipped who actually watched and lasted through an hour of Tuesday Night Book Club. Actually it's my devout hope that so few people - with or without penises - watched Tuesday Night Book Club that the bright bulbs at CBS who put this show on the air will take it off before it is supposed to air next week, but it's summer and it doesn't take much to keep a TV series on the air. I fear we are stuck with Tuesday Night Book Club until it runs its natural course, however my penis and I will not be watching. My obligations as a reviewer are satisfied.

The show is an obvious reality version of Desperate Housewives right down to an off-screen narrator - unidentified as far as I could tell - who comments on events and offers what can best be described as a little homily at the end of the episode. (Apparently the show is also a clone of another "docu-soap" called The Real Housewives of Orange County, but I haven't seen that show.) This show lacks that quality that makes Desperate Housewives work and that is sympathetic characters. With maybe one exception I couldn't give a crap about any of these people. The show is about seven women who appear to be middle to upper middle class living in Scottsdale Arizona and seem to be both friends and members of the same book club. I guess this leads me to an obvious question of how the producers found this book club and its dysfunctional members. Did they take out ads and audition book clubs or did they find these women and create the club for the purposes of the show? The whole thing seems staged somehow.

The women are a diverse group, too perfect in their types to come from anything but a casting call of some sort. There's Cris the "Loyal Wife": she's sticking by her man after he's come out of rehab and not only has to raise the kids but has to be the sole support for the family. Jamie is the "Conflicted Wife" who has been with her husband since she was 16 (three years dating and six years married) but isn't sure she wants to stay married because she hasn't had a chance to sow her wild oats (well sort of, according to the show's website she's had several affairs) and her husband claims she's not mature enough to have children. Jenn is the 38 year old "Trophy Wife" who thinks that her marriage is perfect, even though it includes swinging and a husband who at best is a boor, and wants to share with her friends. Kirin is a 31 year old former model who is married to a doctor, but is full of insecurities, at least partially fuelled by her husband who is more interested in his hobbies, which includes working on his motorcycle, than having sex with his wife - the swine. Newlywed Lynn has been married to Eddie for just six months - and if they make a year it'll be a miracle given the way they fight. Sara is the token single "Party Girl" who likes to party and talk about sex with her Book Club friends. Finally there's Tina the competitive 46 year-old divorced mom with a high powered job and a competitive urge in most things in her life. There lives seem to be an endless cycle of complaining about their lives to each other and their husbands and having drinks. I guess this is what passes for reality for some people.

The first episode seemed to focus on a several situations. First there was Jamie considering leaving her husband and going to Tina for help and advice. Tina helps her find a possible apartment, while Sara takes her out for a night on the town to show her the joys of the single life the way Sara lives it (which includes a pick-up artist interrupting their dinner). Meanwhile Kirin decided to go to Jenn and her husband Jim to get some advice on how to get her husband to have sex with her rather than spend his time with his hobbies which includes his motorcycle. They suggest that she get a sexy set of motorcycle leathers and become more involved in his hobbies. It doesn't really work since at the end of the episode she goes to bed while he tinkers with the bike.

The big event of the episode is the house warming party at Lynn and Eddie's and the arguments leading up to it. Lynn, it seems, wants Eddie to take care of some things around the house, like fixing the toilet and some other things. Eddie seems to think that this stuff will take too much of his valuable off time (he's a firefighter although both the narration and the website describe her as the family breadwinner) and wants her to do everything that she normally does in addition to the stuff she want shim to do, and oh yes dig around in their dog's poop for the engagement ring that the dog swallowed. After all the ring cost him a truck and 500 hours of overtime. For the most part Eddie is an ass. Somehow the party comes together and all of the book club members - and the three husbands who are currently with their wives - attend. While Cris's husband Matthew manages to resist the temptation to drink (he's offered a non-alcoholic beer which is a no-no for a recovering alcoholic) Jenn's husband Jim gets quite heavily into the sauce and "jokingly" puts the moves on Lynn in front of everyone including Eddie, who sees it as good drunken fun. As I said, Jenn's husband is a boor.

That whole explanation essentially sums up Tuesday Night Book Club. About the only people in this show who are even vaguely likable and sympathetic are Cris and her husband. In a show like Desperate Housewives every one of the characters - including Edie amazingly enough - has something that makes them sympathetic. These women don't. Indeed in some ways - like the fact that they've decided to air their lives in this incredibly tacky show - they can probably drop the "sym", because they all have something that makes them pathetic whether it's Kirin's insecurities, Cris's need to have a huge variety of animals, or Jenn being married to Jim. Then again maybe I just don't get whatever appeal this show may have for the audience for which it was intended, you know with me having a penis and all.

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