The TV trap

By Alexis Tomrell

I recently moved into a new apartment and thought it was unnecessary to purchase cable. For the first couple weeks I felt pretty free. The TV trap was over: No infomercials, no falling asleep to trash TV, no paternity tests, no Bravo marathons. I set out to do some pretty amazing things with my newfound free time. I even got up some mornings, drank my coffee and read the dictionary for kicks. I loved it.

A couple weeks later I got Internet. Poor decision. With all my extra free time, which could be devoted to learning languages, interacting with humans, actually doing homework or writing the next great American novel, I have instead started watching TV online. And … now I’m going to write a column about television. Ugh.

Are my own life’s dramatic plot twists so dependent on television that I can’t spend more than three weeks in the real world? Not the “Real World.”

First of all, watching TV online is horrible. It could be my Internet connection, but watching one half hour show takes me about four hours. I basically watch screen shots. A flipbook is faster than this.

When I do find something that works, MegaVideo cuts me off at 45 minutes, leaving me to search for the last 15 minutes of the show for two more hours. With this waiting game on my hands, I’ve had nothing but time to overanalyze shows for your reading enjoyment.

Let me commence.

“My Life as Liz.” Kind of hated high school? Still had funny times with good friends? “My Life as Liz” is one of MTV’s new socially-aware shows, along with “The Buried Life.” While “The Buried Life,” a show about four guys and one bucket list, makes me want to write my own “100 things to do before I die” list and be an awesome adult, “My Life as Liz” takes me back to high school and makes me realize growing up in a boring, culture-less small town made me more determined to get out and do something different.

The show is a faux documentary about Liz Lee, a high school senior whose transition from Texan “Barbie” to cynical hipster has left her feeling a little raw. Enter camera crew. Begin MTV typecasting.

Right now, I’m trying to get through a full episode of it. I’ve watched the first halves of two episodes available on MTV’s website, but they keep cutting out after the Tide advertisement. I think I like it. Yes, I mildly relate to it. Yes, I sort of dress like that. Yes, I grew up in a small town. Besides all the obvious reasons I might like this show; it’s got a certain quirky charm about it. It gives me hope that MTV can still champion Daria-like morals in the wake of “Jersey Shore.”

“My Life as Liz” is a colorful version of “My So-Called Life,” with better clothes and a less depressed heroine. Unlike CW’s ungodly dose of teen scandal, “Liz” treats things like they are. In “Liz,” no one is getting syphilis in the ravine (Degrassi!) and Texas isn’t populated with coiffed trust fund babies or sex-crazed vampires. For her, life is just frustrating at times. She doesn’t fit in with the athletic crowd, the Southern belles or the Texan teen evangelists. Who is she? It is this question she pursues, yet it’s this question that’s never fully developed. MTV could make this into an interesting show, unfortunately, it’s all smoke and mirrors. They stop at concept and resort to their tired old typecasting.

This is “The Hills” for Texas. Err wait no, it’s a sitcom about stereotypes. Great, a “Juno” encore.

I have no idea if the show is real or not. It attempts to be, but it can’t be. I know you’re having a really important discussion about Valentine’s Day in class right now, but … your teacher must mind the giant distraction of a camera crew. To each her own interpretation.

By the end, there are a lot of reasons to hate this show. Bad one-liners, forced interaction, stereotype reinforcement, no clear message. But whatever, there is worse television to hate, and in the goofiest corners of my heart, I like this show.

3 Thumbs.