Shedding Some Light On Those Ridiculous Shows Your Wife or Girlfriend is Watching

Sometimes when your only friend is a woman, no matter how hard you try, you’re accidentally exposed to the girly things in life. For example, I never would have even considered the doomed-from-the-start idea of reading and blogging about Fifty Shades of Grey if I wasn’t living with someone who already owned the books.

When we lived in San Francisco, it was easy to ignore all the pointless TV shows my girlfriend watches because  A). we didn’t live together, and B). when she was at my apartment, it was understood that I’d be watching sports on the living room TV and she’d be relegated to the bedroom TV to watch her stuff. But now that we live in a one-TV apartment, the content of these shows has been slowly seeping into my brain. I feel violated by it, but there’s really nothing I can do…800 square feet doesn’t allow for a lot of isolation.

In nine short months of living together, I’ve gone from not knowing whether it was called Sex in the City or Sex and the City to being able to quote lines from about 60% of the SATC episodes. There’s no hope for me at this point.

But even a guy with no exposure to the female world knows that Sex and the City is about four way-past-their-prime women passing around STDs in New York. That one’s easy. But what about all of those mysterious reality shows that your wife is watching? You know, the ones that seem so pointless because they’re reality shows without an actual competition involved (the only kind of reality TV men watch I’m pretty sure). The ones you’d never have to subconsciously pay attention to if your cable provider would just go along with your pleas to eliminate Bravo and E! from their services.

Considering I’ve been exposed to these shows for nine months and still don’t always know what the fuck is going on in each of them, I’m assuming there are plenty of other men out there who are equally stupefied by Say Yes To the Dress Bridesmaids Edition and Kourtney and Kim and Khloe and Kris Take New York.

Well prepare to be confused no longer. I may not know all the nuances of these shows, but I do think I have a basic understanding of the premise/their reason for existing. Here are spot-on descriptions of the four TV shows I’m exposed to most often:

Keeping Up With The Kardashians/Kourtney and Kim Do New York: I know a lot about the Kardashians actually (doesn’t everyone?). Kim did the sex tape, Bruce did the Olympics, the rest of them ride coattails. The three main girls have a store named “Dash” because “dash” is in their last name. I assume Khloe runs the store because she seems to be the only one with a brain. She’s married to Lamar Odom. He’s retired from basketball I think. Khloe and Lamar are the only two who associate with the Black Sheep Brother, Robbie. Every now and then the two younger sisters (twins?), who also have names that begin with “K”, make an appearance, but they’re boring because they’re not old enough to do photo shoots or make sex tapes. I’ve also been noticing more air time for this weird male friend of Kim’s. Don’t know his name, but he’s either gay or secretly wants to bang Kim. But he’s fully in the friend zone so that’ll probably never happen. Then there’s Scott (or “Lord Disick” as his friends call him). He’s the best. He’s a star. If E! did a spinoff just about him, I’d watch every episode. I have no idea if he or his family were rich before he was part of the Klan, but he’s set for life now. No matter how him and Kourtney end up, this guy should be the envy of all men. From what I can tell, he doesn’t have a job, his girl Kourtney doesn’t even expect him to raise their kids, so he spends every waking hour either partying, meeting other famous people or driving race cars. I’m assuming Kourtney and Kim “do New York” because the family wants to be on TV as much as possible, but no network would ever let a single show run 52 weeks a year.

Real Housewives of (fill in the blank): I always assumed the housewives were wives of famous people. I never bothered to verify whether that’s true or not. I assume the show is “a day in the life” of these rich, over-the-hillish women and what uninspiring things they get up to in their city. But I feel like every time my girlfriend’s watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, they’re actually in Paris in that episode. And Real Housewives of Atlanta was taking place in Barbados or some other tropical island the one time I paid attention. So I wonder if the (fill in the blank) part is even relevant since they’re never in that city. The housewives are predominantly blonde, full of plastic surgery and definitely on the wrong side of 40 (except for the Atlanta show…those women are all black). A typical episode goes like this: All of the women except one who isn’t there at the time start gossiping about that missing person. Then they’ll all get together at one of their houses for a party, and someone will spill the beans to the woman who was missing before that everyone’s talking about her because she ruined so-and-so’s marriage. The singled-out girl will start to confront everyone else, and eventually a few of the women’s husbands get involved. The word bitch is tossed around like it’s the last day in history anyone will be able to use that word. And then all of the sudden we’re watching a reunion show where the flamboyant host is showing the women these uncomfortable scenes from the season and all the women claim to be good friends again. There are a ton of reunion shows for the Real Housewives franchise for some reason.

Four Weddings: Four soon-to-be-married women who can’t afford a honeymoon compete to have the best wedding of the group to try to win a honeymoon. The judges are the girls themselves, which seems like the dictionary definition of “conflict of interest.” So it’s like a regular wedding’s happening, with the bride, groom, all their friends and family, and then this random table of three women with a ton of cameras and lights on them. And their whole purpose is to find problems with the wedding they’re at. Sounds like a fun time for everyone. So the girls in the wedding competition do this whole thing where they’re all complimentary around each other and say things like, “Oh I like the way she decorated the banquet hall, such a great use of the natural ambience.” But when they’re talking to the camera one-on-one they say, “I just do not understand having your wedding in a banquet hall. No amount of decorating can make a banquet hall look nice. I’m giving Tammy a three out of 10 for her venue choice.” And then the girls give scores for venue, food, efficiency and dress. And then the winner gets to ride off into the honeymoon-winning sunset with her husband as the other three girls sulk back to their miserable existence.

Say Yes To The Dress: Brides who go to a wedding dress expert looking for the perfect dress. But not perfect in the way you’re thinking. Perfect in that it pleases the bride, her parents, her brothers, all of her bridesmaids, and even her weird male lifelong friend. You can imagine how well that works. And the people who run the dress shop are constantly pissed off at the brides for wanting to find the perfect dress. What, are they supposed to shop for their wedding dress the way I shop for shoes? Walk in store, close eyes, spin in circle, buy the exact pair you’re pointing at when you open your eyes. And then, when the bride still isn’t making a decision, the owner says “It’s time to jack…her…up!!” I always expect something negative to happen when she says she’s gonna jack someone up. Like she’s gonna yell and belittle them, or tell them she doesn’t want them as a customer, something. But it turns out “jack her up” means “spoil this fatso by dressing her up in jewelry, tiaras and other accessories to make her look extra special.” I don’t understand any of this.

Having all of this knowledge in my brain about these shows feels as useless as when you accidentally memorize the lyrics to bad songs. I’m not mad at my girlfriend for any of this because I know I’ll get my payback on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays starting in September.

50 Shades of Confused: When Bad Ideas Go Even Worse Than Planned

Even though it probably seems like every blog idea I have is brilliant, I’ve gotta come clean and own up to a terrible mistake I’ve made.

The plan was to read Fifty Shades of Grey and write a couple of posts that would be a CliffsNotes-like overview of this popular book. My thinking was that it would be a uniquely funny set of posts because most men haven’t read this book (and never will), and rather than focus on the erotic and serious parts of it, I would dig out the humorous and ridiculous pieces and share those with the world.

A bad idea doesn’t begin to describe my miscalculation. This was a bad idea:

Reading this book was more like a catastrophe stuffed inside a disaster wrapped around a tragedy.

I’ve wasted a lot of time in my 29 years, but I’ve never been this upset over losing three hours of my life—about the amount of time I’ve spent getting through the first 160 pages of this book. The only comparable thing that comes to mind in terms of being this upset was when the girls in my 7th grade class talked some of us boys into going to see A Walk in the Clouds at the movies. We were so pissed off we threw candy at the screen, mocked other moviegoers and eventually stormed out before the movie ended.

And just like that experience from 1995, I’m ready to throw something at this book, metaphorically speaking…except instead of some harmless jujubes, I’d like to fling my feces at this book and its author.

In case it isn’t crystal clear yet, I’m out. I won’t read another page. And I will lose respect for anyone who reads it and claims to enjoy it.

Even if the book wasn’t a boring and repetitive mess—any time someone speaks in this book they are “murmuring” according to the author, and every time the two main characters are together, she is biting her lip and he is running his hand through his unkempt hair—the writing is so poor that it’s beyond distracting.  Here’s a two-sentence example of the typical writing in the book:

“We are besieged by do-it-yourselfers wanting to spruce up their homes. Mr. and Mrs. Clayton and John and Patrick—the two other part-timers—and I are besieged by customers.”

I think they had a lot of customers in the store that day…

Also, four of the first 13 words in sentence two are “and”…it’s seriously the writing of a slightly inept third-grader.

If you’re still interested in CliffsNotes from the first 10 chapters that I actually read, here they are:

-A college senior, Anastasia Steele, is forced to go interview the richest man in Washington because her roommate, the editor of their school’s newspaper, got sick.

-The author makes this girl seem like the least appealing person in the world…a cross between Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed and Anne Hathaway’s character in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada.

-That comparison may make you think I’m only making fun of this character’s physical appearance. But from a maturity standpoint, she’s apparently a 22 year old who frequently uses the phrase “double crap,” and somehow through all of college has essentially never even kissed a guy. She’s just exploding with sex appeal…

-The billionaire she interviews, Christian Grey, is basically described as a cross between the hottest man on the planet and God.

-And yet somehow, as everyone in the world already knows, this book is about the steamy love affair between these two people. Totally, 100% believable.

-Anyway, the first five chapters are basically a back and forth of this man being unsure if he wants to get involved with the college student…not because he’s not attracted to her (because he so believably is!), but because he “doesn’t do the girlfriend thing.”

-But finally, after 80 excruciating pages, this guy decides he has to have this ugly duckling. For the next few chapters we get to read all about him taking her virginity while he simultaneously convinces her to enter into a S&M relationship where he is essentially her master (the dominant, I think they call it), and she has to be his submissive and do any and all sex acts that he desires…double crap!!

-When I reached chapter 11 and saw that for the next 12 pages I’d be reading an actual contract that Christian makes his women sign (complete with a three-page appendix) before starting this formal relationship, I gave up. Did I really need to read a bunch of legal clauses to enjoy a smut novel? Here’s an example of those 12 pages:

“The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive’s rights under clauses 2-5 and 8 above.”

That is some steamy, sexy shit right there.

And for anyone who hoped I would read the entire book and give full CliffsNotes so you could hear how it ends, I just read the final page and it sounds like Anastasia leaves Christian, the only man she ever loved.