The Newcomer

The stranger in my house

by Frankie Potts

For more than 20 years I have not invited TV programming into my home even though I have always had a set. That changed when I received a new TV for Christmas, and my kids hooked it up for me.


Enter reality TV and talk shows.

Have I ever been sheltered! I had no idea there were moms and dads who would allow their children to be caged and covered with cockroaches for the entertainment of others. But that was the basis of a show I caught while channel flipping. It was explained the parents could free their children by removing some of the bugs, mouthful by mouthful. Ugh!

I didn't stay tuned to watch. But, hey, the winners were promised a car and a couple of mountain bikes so the parents' fall from dignity and whatever trauma the kids might suffer must have made this disgusting spectacle worth it, right!

And then there are the talk show hosts who thrive on the humiliation and despair in the lives of people who appear to be barely literate.

I don't understand this exploitation of people in the name of entertainment.

What happened to talent?

For me, there are too many programs that feast on pain, poverty and misery. Not the stuff of which my entertainment is made.

I have noticed some positive results apparently come of programs like Super Nanny and Dr. Phil, but, to my way of thinking, it's work better done in private. People's guts spilling over for all to see don't add up to entertainment for me.

Maybe that's where I'm missing the boat.

Maybe shows like these aren't meant to be entertaining. Maybe they are produced to teach us something. If so, why when I stumble across one of them, do I feel as if I'm hanging over the back yard fence sopping up gossip?

An avid reader who spends several hours at a time buried in a book, I find the constant commercial interruptions on TV a jolt to my concentration. It is disconcerting to be fed a program in tiny spoonfuls rather than in a single gulp.

The noisy backgrounds in both commercials and programs feel like an attack on my nervous system. Nothing calming or soothing there.

In spite of the chaos in which blaring commercial minutes seem to outnumber program minutes, I am enjoyng my new TV set. I feel as if I've been dragged out of the dark ages into the 21st Century now that I have news at my finger tips. I also think it's been good for me to learn to what depths we have sunk.

As soon as my old VCR and DVD player is repaired, I can sink back into my favorite couch potato activity of movies and music.

In the meantime, I'm keeping my finger near that red button on my remote.

. Frankie Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working at several newspapers in Washington state.


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