At first it was the occasional Sally Jesse Raphael when she would years later reunite a mother with the child that she had to give up because she was only 12 when she got pregnant by a boyfriend who beat her and held her hostage for 8 months of the pregnancy that I would lose it. No matter how fantastic or mundane the story, when the 35 year old "child" came from backstage, arms outstretched, tears in her eyes, my eyes were moist too. Never mind that these were two complete strangers that probably wouldn't get along or develop any sort of relationship, there I was with a disintegrating Puffs plus filled with tears and snot slipping through my hands as I reached for another one. Michael would walk in the room and just look at me and say, "What? Reunion show again? Haven't you had enough?" The reunion shows were killer enough but then it happened during the breaks in the shows...
Commercials...there were a glut of holiday commercials one year that were designed to rip your heart out. It was the Folgers college student that really started the whole thing and a million years later they're still playing it and I'm still crying. Never mind that Folger's take on Billy coming home was something so foreign to me (I had tried college three times but never stayed longer than it took to get my ID because of the great discounts you get with a student ID!) - that waspy family with their home in Cape Cod as Billy comes home from some Ivy League school without a zit or the freshman 15 pounds that everyone but white, white, white Billy puts on. No, Billy was working out all semester, eating right, studying, saving himself for the right girl whom someday he'd marry and they'd make love for the first time on their honeymoon and she would be disappointed and he'd end up gay but that's okay because he never knew she came from a long line of alcoholics and soon would have made it with everyone from the Fuller Brush man to the guard who helped Billy Jr. cross the street on the way to school while being high on some rubbing alcohol she strained through a piece of white Wonder bread. But for now, Billy with the perfectly touseled hair was just wanting to make a fresh cup of coffee for his family. Breaks your heart, doesn't it? And Folgers wasn't the only one in the game, Hallmark had a couple that could make you put your therapist on speed dial.
So I shunned them all. Much like a song that I could name on the radio in two notes like on Name That Tune, when I would hear the commercial start, I left the room or changed the channel. What amazing power it was to be able to stop emotion like a car - by simply applying a little pressure on the remote.
And so I thought that I was cured. Sure I would occasionally get sucked into a 60 Minutes featuring children with fatal diseases and be a mess but on the whole I was okay. And then it happened - I was watching reality television, completely safe because who cares about these morons who want to share their entire life with us because sharing their life is more exciting than their life. Then came Ty Pennington!!! There it was - Extreme Home Makeover, what threat could there be in a show like that, right?
Wrong - that son of a bitch! First it starts with some family who has had everything go wrong but their dog being killed by a random act of violence. I mean, these people have diseases, missing parents, arms and legs that don't work - you name it, they've got it wrong with them. So you meet the family (that is close to death, had a death in the family, smells like death or just love one another to death) through a video at the start of the show. Now all the carpenters and designers are already a mess in their RV watching the video. They're crying their Max Factor off and checking to make sure that their key light is hitting them right all at the same time. They're crying so of course, I'm crying. Then you actually meet the family and as they come out of their hovel (soon to be a mansion that they won't even be able to afford the upkeep on the asinine foutain with the fish in it that the designers call a "water feature" in the backyard next to the cabana and Olympic sized pool) the family is crying, designers and carpenters crying and I'm crying again. There's more crying on the damn show than there is on a Spanish Novella on Telemundo! (At least on a Novella, I don't know what they're saying so it makes me a little less likely to cry.) The family goes on vacation while the designers preen for the camera and give you several angles to watch them cry in good light and every room of the house during the hour long show. I don't know how anything gets measured straight for all the crying. There's so much God damned crying that you need a gallon of water to replenish yourself from the dehydration!! So, I was in - it's on Tivo and I'm watching it every week and Michael is shaking his head at me every week.
And then they do it - they make the show two hours instead of one hour. That was it! I had to draw the line - two hours of women crying, men crying, babies crying, animals crying and me crying - it's enough already. It had finally gotten to the point of being cheap sentiment - they film, edit and re-edit the show with one purpose in mind, a weekly cryapalooza!!
I don't care that Jimmy's going to finally be able to work out in his new endless pool after his debilitating injury from serving in the war while feeding people at a homeless shelter in Iraq and giving mouth to mouth to several stray dogs. I appreciate people wanting to help people, what I do not appreciate is Ty Fucking Pennington in his fucked up (even though a stylist spent 14 hours making sure it looked messy but not a mess) hair and his band of merry mashuggahs that have to prick themselves with a pin to cry at this point, exploiting the situation. Oh they help the people but only if the people who can barely stand are standing on the right side of them so Ty can look his best on camera. I've become almost numb to human suffering at the hands of the cast, director and editors of this show and so they've been removed from my Sunday night line up on my Tivo.
And let me just say tear ducts will be a little drier this season...I detest cheap sentiment and Ty and his gang are as cheap as they come - Don't Get Me Started!!