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I blame the Christmas fudge

Jan 2, 2014 - By Clair McFarland

The New Year brings with it enthusiasm and ambition -- and the two traits combine to make me scrub obscure nooks and crannies throughout the house. The final, post-Christmas days of December, however, found me in a fudge-induced haze, bound by lethargy and excess to my favorite chair, watching TV.

Ordinarily I want nothing to do with television. The TV set of my childhood boasted three channels, the "good" one of which played a lot of grainy episodes of "Frasier." In high school I discovered futuristic-dystopian novels and the collective hatred the authors of such bear toward "telescreens," "televisors," and the like -- hatred provoked, no doubt, by both a love of books and a desire for job security.

By the time TV became available and interesting to me, I was already too preoccupied for it, caught in the daily tumult of full-time motherhood.

To this disinterest there has been one exception: The Husband and I followed "The Office" throughout most of its airing life. It's hard not to enjoy a mock reality show in a world in which reality shows aren't even mock reality. The artistic parameters of such a set-up allow for far-fetched humor, and therefore, Steve Carell.

Anyway, the TV world of today seems a busy but irrelevant place. The horrors which some humans face are not simply revealed to a caring world, but placed on display in the form of "reality" entertainment to a host of living-room gawkers.

The entertainment repertoire for the pre-teen crowd is fraught with child characters who are rude to their parents, preoccupied with themselves, and apparently, hurting for fashion sense.

TV shows for young children put forth extensive effort to not merely limit gender-typing, but reverse it completely. This is done to the point at which every "dad" character is a cake decorator and every "mom" character is a doctor/UFC fighter. Mickey and Minnie still seem to possess gender coding, which just goes to show how sexist mice are. Someone should really do something about that.

Other than all of that, we've got a general dose of lewdness, superficiality, and folks getting ulcers over the contents of storage units and pawn shops.

When a classy, effortful endeavor dares pop its head up above the baloney, Carrie Underwood winds up getting criticized for having enough character (and what I'm sure can only be boundless ambition) to attempt to fill the shoes meant for Julie Andrews's huge feet.

Sorry to break it to all of you, but Julie Andrews herself is now 40 years past the right casting age for Maria, lead character on "The Sound of Music." Furthermore, there were no other convent-cute blondes who can sing opera-style, yodel, play guitar, and wear their hair in a Swedish braid for three hours.

And when the last beacon of genuine expression -- amid the artificial, agenda-ridden land of TV -- rests with the bearded bird-caller sect of that land and nowhere else, the fate of TV seems dubious.

However, if there is any hope for quality entertainment, the expression of genuine thoughts, and a glimpse of humanity wherein talent is the goal and genuine expression is the commodity, it surely rests with the Carrie Underwoods and the Phil Robertsons. Whether you love them or hate them, they have never offered to limit their opinions to stay in the shallow pond of trashy sitcoms and foul-mouthed "reality" -- both of which seem to offend no one, oddly enough.

As I sat in my chair considering these things, amidst my post-Christmas haze, I realized that to place my sole hope for entertainment in that box full of nonsense is wrong. Any of us who sits before the fake world of TV expecting entertainment of a genuine sort is in error.

I was in error. My criticism of TV would not need to be printed here if I hadn't approached the box with a sense of entertainment-entitlement to begin with. That's why, today, I plan to take my children sledding and read a good book.

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