On balance, it’s hard for me to argue that receiving a couple hundred cable channels is a bad thing. I may only watch a fraction of them, but it’s nice to know that if I wanted to get tips on refinishing furniture or watch a Premier League match, I could.
The flip side, of course, is that all these hundreds of channels need new programming to feed them. That’s where things get dicey.
Take (please) two announcements from the cable-verse in the past couple of days. TV Land, which is diving into boomer-centered reality shows to augment its I Love Lucy and Cheers reruns, has greenlit a "cougar" dating show from The Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss (who’s already doing a version of his old WB show High School Reunion for the network, focusing on 20-year rather than 10-year reunions).
The as-yet untitled show will have a group of younger men vying for the affection of "a sexy and accomplished mature woman" — the Cougar. It was probably inevitable that this show would come along — heck, NBC took a stab at it last year with the 20s-vs.-40s dating show Age of Love — but that doesn’t make me feel any less icky about it.
For starters, there’s that term, which I know is supposed to connote a wily animal stalking her prey but for me tends to conjure up images of bad animal-print clothing and overly done fingernails. If you’re an older woman who prefers the company of younger men, good on you. But given the history of The Bachelor — and, let’s face it, pretty much every other televised dating show — I doubt what we’ll get from TV Land is a searching examination of the dynamic between the parties.
(You would also think that, once you reach a certain age, the desire to make a spectacle of oneself on television would dissipate. Guess not.)
The cougar show makes me a little queasy. But nothing like Hurl.
Hurl comes to you this summer from G4, the folks who tell you how to beat video games and show Arrested Development reruns. It’s a game show that combines competitive eating with physical competition — downing a plateful of hot dogs, then riding a mechanical bull, for instance. Last one still holding his (and I have to believe it’ll be almost exclusively dudes competing) cookies wins.
TV being TV, I’m guessing we’ll hear of equally silly ideas for shows in the not-too-distant future. But can you envision yourself watching either of these shows? Or are they just skeevy enough to make you curious?