In case you hadn't heard, TV writers are on strike. Without writers, there are no scripts, and without scripts, there are no television shows.
Reality TV, however, is exempt from this strike so now that we don't have a clue about what's happening on Wisteria Lane, we have a spate of new reality shows on television.
Allow me to familiarize you with a few I've watched.
HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED (Lifetime TV, Friday night) with Carson Kressley. Carson, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, hosts a new show that isn't about dieting or plastic surgery or any other crazy things women do to look good. It's about learning that more than likely your perception of your body is quite skewed and with a little help from proper foundation garments, the right clothes, a good haircut and a makeover, you can look fabulous not only to others but to yourself. Kressley (who has an impressive bio, which includes designing for Ralph Lauren, being a member of the US World Cup Equestrian Team and graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from college) demonstrates compassion that would make a lumberjack cry. He also sometimes dances in a Carmen Miranda outfit.
MISS AMERICA REALITY CHECK (The Learning Channel, Friday night) strives to change the image of the typical Miss America contestant. All fifty-two contestants (the fifty states plus Miss District of Columbia and Miss Virgin Islands) live in a Los Angeles mansion with only seven showers and compete in various mental and physical challenges. No one gets voted off the island, no one has to eat bugs or forage for food in the forest (at least they haven't yet). They have to listen and learn, and each week the top three and bottom three contestants are selected by the celebrity judges as those who have made the best progress and the least. Gone are the aqua-netted hairdos and brash makeup, and it looks like this week they'll learn to strut the catwalk like a Paris model. Poor Miss Utah went from top three to bottom three in a week based on her bad decision to show up for a pool-side challenge with big hair, bigger earrings and way too much make-up. It's been interesting to say the least and January 26th's Miss America pageant, telecast live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, should be even more interesting. I know I've always looked at Miss America with a "yeah, right" attitude and rolled my eyes a little , but one of the Playground's friends, Michelle Buonfiglio of Lifetime TV's Romance B(u)y the Book, was a top ten Miss America finalist and credits the scholarship money she won for her being able to complete her college degree. Knowing someone personally who benefited from the scholarship program has definitely made me reevaluate my attitude toward it.
DANCE WARS: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC, Monday night) is the search for performers who can sing and dance. Hosted by former boyband star Drew Lachey (who proved he could dance too) it pits two teams of singers/dancers coached by Dancing with the Stars judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba. We're two weeks in and they've auditioned thousands and picked two teams of six (three men and three women). Over the next weeks we'll see them perform, the viewers get to vote and I'm still not quite sure what else is going to happen. Does someone get sent home each week? Do the teams just earn viewer votes? What will the winning team get? What I REALLY want to see is Bruno and Carrie Ann dancing. I want to see them samba or quickstep or tango and have someone tell them their shoulders slumped, their toes weren't pointed or call them on an illegal lift.
AMERICAN IDOL (Fox, various nights). An old favorite is back for its seventh season and last night we got to start watching America's worst singers audition.
Alabama has had its share of AI hopefuls and winners. Second season winner Reuben Studdard attended college right here in the town where I live. Bo Bice, runner up to Carrie Underwood, also lived here for a while as did fifth season winner Taylor Hicks. And it seems Alabama may have another chance to claim an American Idol winner. Cardin McKinney lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but she graduated from high school about five miles from my house. We'll just have to wait and see how she does in the audition process.
One bright spot in the TV line-up is the return of MONK on Friday nights on USA Network. He's quirky, he's brilliant, he's so flawed that he's lovable and I cherish each six-episode season they dole out twice a year. Why won't they give us more?
So what have you been watching during the strike? Or have you been reading more?