Admittedly, I have some questionable TV viewing habits. I watch telenovelas even though I don't understand much Spanish (but I'm learning). I watch General Hospital with the fervor of a cultist. I watch a few programs just out of habit, because they used to be better (like 7th Heaven). I not only watch sports, I also often watch people talking about sports — people who don't know any more than I do about the subject. So I'm nobody to judge.
Somewhere, though, even I have to draw a line. I make no judgments about people who watch professional wrestling (or "professional" "wrestling," because what it's called isn't exactly what it is) or things like World's Funniest Gas Explosions. I'm only slightly more judgmental when it comes to Fear Factor and The View. But hey, even then, to each his or her own. It's not my call.
Then last night I tuned in KTVU a few minutes too early for the Ten O'Clock News and ran up against the end of Joe Millionaire. Oh. My. God. It's not just humiliating for the women who didn't get a necklace (even though the guy told them they were all "amazing"). It's degrading to everyone involved, from the writers and producers to the grips on the crew. At least it's on Fox, which has a lower threshold of shame than your average TV network.
It was probably the top rated show last night. I don't have any evidence for this, but it stands to reason. We lap this stuff up these days. But I can't picture myself sitting still through this, much less enjoying it. It makes my skin crawl when I see people prostituting their self-esteem that way. It only makes it worse that this whole series is one elaborate practical joke, with the guy just pretending to be rich.
Ugh. Watch it if you want. I wouldn't try to stop you. But ugh.