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What I Watched Last Night: Lauren & Audrina

Readers may have noticed that I have a strange fascination with The Hills. Watching last night's episode, I was struck once again by the odd fact that I actually sort of like Lauren Conrad, who isn't at all someone I normally would befriend or choose to spend time with at all. But - and yes, I realize this is a TV show and she's been edited into a character - she seems well-grounded (especially compared to everyone else on the show, with the possible exception of wise Whitney) and . . . she has integrity.

At least this is my theory. Lauren has standards. She's not mean or manipulative like those around here, but those around her being the kind of people they are, well, they tend to let her down. Will any friend be true to Lauren?

That friggin' Audrina.

Why I would I want a friend who treats me that way?" Lauren cried (for the umpteenth time about the umpteenth friend). Audrina, you see, had swallowed (and spread) the ludicrous rumor that Lauren had hooked-up with Audrina's beau, Justin Bobby.

(My favorite part of the face-off when Audrina confronted Lauren was when Lauren told her Audrina that she never could sleep with her boyfriend because her boyfriend disgusted her.)

Of course, the entire drama of the show rests on relationship fraud, conniving and backstabbing. This brand of reality TV is nothing more than non-fiction soap opera, with the enduring appeal of that genre multiplied by the fact that the characters are actually real people. It's genius.

But The Hills works also due to a sitcom formula: the center and circle (or something like that, I can't remember the official name). The idea is that there is a rational person (Jerry Seinfeld, Barney Miller, the boring guy in Taxi) at the center of a crazy circle of friends, co-workers, whatever. The center provides the rational base while everyone else flies around being nuts and, presumably, funny. The center is a straight man (or woman) who provides the contrast we need to sharpen the insanity.

Anyway, that's my theory about The Hills.

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I also caught part of The Doctors yesterday. This show is kind of there, but not quite. Basically, it's MANswers meets Lovelines divided by Dr. Phil and diluted by half.

The premise is that there are four doctors with different specialties who answer questions in front of a studio audience and do segments on medical issues from illness to diet to plastic surgery. It's a daytime show.

Yesterday's show was a good example of its strengths and weaknesses. It was part two of a two-parter about embarrassing questions you don't want to ask your real doctor. They ranged from folks who leak urine when they cough or laugh to a woman who had orgasms when she exercised. The common theme is: Am I normal?

The problem wasn't the topics, it was the answers. They only seemed to go halfway in my book. Especially when it came to sex. Let's face it, people have an insatiable curiosity about sex. And why shouldn't they? Those questions deserved a little more time. We can learn about urine leakage from commercials on CBS.

But it's good daytime viewing for anyone like me who works at home and often needs a diversion to dull the mind or at least put it in a very different place. And quite often it's educational as well.

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For sports fans, I'd like to weigh in on three ESPN shows. I've come to like Pardon the Interruption, though Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football may be even more unbearable than Dennis Miller. It's a nice way to run down the day's sports topics with fairly intelligent discussion. But it's wholly dependent on the interplay of the hosts to work.

I've come around a bit to Around the Horn. But the point-scoring system is a gimmick and I'd prefer the format from which it's really copied, which is quite simply The Sports Reporters.

Still, you get to hear a variety of viewpoints. It's more satisfying than political pundit shows, I'll tell you that. These are reporters debating the issues, not spinmeisters pretending they're doing anything but selling propaganda.

And finally, First and Ten, which is unbearable almost wholly because Skip Bayless is so incredibly grating he makes me want to drive a stake through my ears.

Nontheless, for all the trendy criticism ESPN takes in the blogosphere and elsewhere these days because it's the Big Kahuna, it's still the best sports network ever and I find little not to like on it.

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Comments welcome.

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See what else we've been watching!

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Submissions welcome.



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Posted on November 25, 2008


MUSIC - What FBG Duck's Mother Says.
TV - The Comedic LA Dodgers.
POLITICS - Wilmette Man Translated Nazis To Death. Heed His Lessons.
SPORTS - Tweeting Foles.

BOOKS - The Endurance Of The Rubik's Cube.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Charles E. Cheese Boo-tacular.


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