America worries me sometimes; and I’m a self-professed Americanophile. I love chocolate-chip pancakes with bacon; I love The Captain and Tennielle; I love words like trash (rubbish) and pants (trousers) and cilantro (basil). I love their comedy television and their drama television. I do NOT like their reality television. And when I watch it, I sigh for America.


This Saturday evening I spent the night at home. My friend Anna came over to hang out. We hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks and so needed to catch up. TLC (the channel, not the band) was on my TV in the background. This was a mistake, as it consequently took over our evening, to the point where we had to say “lets stop talking so we can concentrate on what happens next on “Gypsy Sisters””.

At the end of the evening, after my friend had left and I’d stayed on my sofa for a further 2 hours watching a back-to-back marathon of “Cyber Stalkers”, I turned my TV off. However, when turning it back on on Sunday morning, my Sky box was still on TLC. This then lead me to watching more American reality programming and being late for breakfast with my mother and step-father. When returning home from my day on Sunday night, TLC was still on. I couldn’t seem to switch channels. The shows were so morbidly compelling that I continued to watch into the early hours of Monday morning!

Take “Extreme Cheapskates” for example. One of the two episodes I watched followed Todd, who had invited an estate agent to his home to value it. Luckily the house was in excellent condition, sure to be valued at a pretty penny, thus satisfying Todd. The reason for its superb condition was the fact that he had wrapped almost everything in it in cellophane, so as not to damage anything. Everything from the actual floor to the actual toilet. To save further money, Todd didn’t let the taps run at more than a trickle and refused to use heating or air conditioning. Steffanie, from the second episode, was an air hostess and decided it was a good idea to appear on “Extreme Cheapskates” to brag about how she saves money by taking left-over meals from the flights she works on. Not only this, but she explained to the eager viewer that if you take 4 small plane pillows and stuff them into a regular sized pillowcase, you effectively have one large pillow. In short, she steals from work. Surely she’s now saving the pennies because she has since been sacked by the TLC-watching chief of Detroit Air.

This story ends up with her getting married in the Alabama unclaimed baggage centre for less than $400.

Then there was “Sex Sent Me To The ER” which told a trilogy of three heartwarming tales in one episode. The first was the story of the couple who decided it was time to consummate their relationship. The girlfriend invited the boyfriend back to her flat to make sweet love and also introduce him to her jack russell terrier. This was not a cute jack russell like the one from Frasier. This one was obsessed with its owner and hated her lover to the degree that it snarled at him on entry into the apartment. You’d think then that this woman would shut her dog out of the bedroom. But no – this is American reality TV, after all. Mid-coitus, the gentleman is bitten on the back of his neck, by the dog, potentially contracting rabies. Sex sent him to the ER.

sex sent me to the er TLC

Then there was the couple that decided to make love having taken part in a “who can eat the most cheeseburgers” competition earlier that afternoon. Nothing kills the mood like mid-intercourse vomiting into a strategically placed waste paper basket. Sex sent her to the ER.

Finally was the story of the newlyweds who had spent the afternoon experimenting with a “sex chair” only for them to eventually require a visit to hospital. The most disturbing thing about this story was that A) the parents of both newlyweds were present at the ER and B) the doctor telling the story had decided it was a good idea to play himself in the dramatic reconstruction. There’s less one PhD on his rumpus room wall.

Anyway, it turned out the newlywed woman was not in searing agony due to the sex chair experiment – she was actually 5 months pregnant, despite only being married to her husband for a couple of weeks, only having known him a short while before that, and claiming to be a virgin bride when she was wed to him. You can’t make this stuff up (can you?) Sex sent her to the ER.

Don’t get me started on “Eskimos Go Wild In San Diego”.

– A



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