When I get especially run down, I watch bad TV online. It's my dirty little secret, belying my pose as a reader, a cable non subscriber, a writer, a NYT junkie, basically anything other than a person who zones out the couch eating cheese toast while slamming Say Yes to the Dress.
(I bought my own wedding dress for $80 online. Which apparently did not inoculate me against watching, with morbid fascination, women drop $8000 on ugly white marvels of sartorial engineering. What can I say? It's so distant from my own experience it's almost like watching isolated Amazonian tribespeople munch grasshoppers.)
My relationship to The Millionaire Matchmaker, anther reality TV show of astonishing badness, is more complicated. Here's the premise: the titular Matchmaker, an abrasive, judgy, irritating woman named Patti, only matches millionaires. But millionaires are more difficult to pair off then you might think, probably because they are millionaires, and money, and the way people treat money, addles the brain. I get to sit at the front of the plane and sip tiny bottles of wine, thinks the millionaire,and therefore I am a really great catch.
Patti's job is to disabuse millionaires of this notion. Like a particularly powerful plumbing tool, she roto-roots the millionaires' self esteem, unclogging their psyches and leaving them, theoretically, open to the free flow of love.
Often, what ends up flowing more closely resembles the metaphor's literal analogue, but this is reality TV, so that's probably the point. Moreover, Patti's goal is to get folks married, not to make people happy, and this is an important distinction. The old adage to "be yourself" is anathema: Patti wants you to be someone other people like.
"David," she tells us, referring to one of her millionaires, "is judgmental, critical, analytical, and totally sarcastic. Those things, nobody wants to date!"
KERSMACK! This explains a lot about my premarital dating life.
No, but seriously, what are those of us who are judgmental, critical, analytical, and totally sarcastic supposed to do with ourselves? Die in holes? You can moderate the expressions of various of your putatively less attractive personality traits, but it's pretty hard to rip this stuff out by the root. So what's the best strategy? Do you seek out other OCD cynics who are happy to sit in judgment with you? Or do you hunt for someone so ludicrously optimistic and cheerful they are undaunted by, well, you?
I confess to being powerfully attracted to both strategies. I ultimately ended up selecting door #2, but sometimes that can leave me feeling judgmental, critical, analytical, and totally sarcastic. On the other hand, I have endless fodder for analysis! WOOT.