Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Channeling my Inner Oprah

I am not a lemming. I am not a lemming.

I repeated this mantra to myself as I burned a few hundred calories on the eliptical machine, watching Oprah this morning.

I don't watch TV unless I'm at the gym. Ever. Honestly. It doesn't occur to me to turn it on, perhaps because I have such limited down time and much prefer to read novels or surf the world over to read all of your blogs. So when I discovered this morning that going to the gym during Lyle's nursery school hours meant that Oprah was on instead of the local morning news shows - with their dreadful closed captioning and non-stop stories about murder - I was secretly thrilled. I mean, pop culture - in my very own world!

I don't actually mind Oprah as a person - it's just the Americanized branding of Oprah that bothers me. It's the way her picture is on her own magazine every month (don't even get Matt started on that one), the fact that millions of women run out to buy the books she recommends, and everything she looks at for more than 10 seconds turns to gold. Can we not think for ourselves, sisters? It's also extraordinarily irritating to me to see all the middle-aged women in her audience shrieking with laughter when she says something really unworthy of that much hoopla. So even though I actually do respect what she's done in a lot of ways and also respect her opinions, I don't seek out that show. And yet finding it on at the gym was a guilty pleasure, I guess because it seems so normal, a word that doesn't often apply to my life.

But here's the scary part: I think I've hit The Demographic. I mean, it was clear to me that Oprah is targeted at me now. No, I didn't shriek with laughter when she said something mildly witty to a guest, but I found that all of the business people she had on her show today were associated with businesses I love, such as Williams-Sonoma and The Container Store (I think my heart rate immediately went up an extra 10 bpm when they started showing those cute boxes). And some guy from 3M invented some pretty awesome highlighters with built-in post-it flags (definitely his 2 minutes of fame!) that Oprah just looooves - and you know what? So would I. (You know me and office supplies, though.)

So now I know: I am not a lemming. I am a middle-aged woman. Oprah is all about me.


Emily, as some know me said...

Soooo....you'll really like this Onion bit:

And I've discovered recently that I'm the target audience for...yes, it's true...the Ladies Home Journal. My mother-in-law has been handing those off to me for years, and they've gone straight from the handoff into the recycling bin. Not this last time. Desperate for reading over dinner, I turned to LHJ. It was no more than about 10 minutes before I was mentally critiquing the shrink in "Can this marriage be saved" and realizing that their health articles were relevant to my life. Sigh.

Shan said...

Oh good lord, we're middle-aged now? That does not seem right. I don't feel middle-aged. And honestly, is 36 middle-aged? I was thinking maybe....40.

Anyway, I won't get into this debate, because though I never watch Oprah (we don't expose the kids to adult TV), I like her a lot and admire her for a lot of reasons. But anyway, what I was really going to say was, You mean you don't surf the blogs WHILE you watch TV?! What's wrong with you, woman? (just kidding. more power to you. but I do have to say my accidental cable TV makes me very, very happy. but I could write a post of my own on my theories for why that is....)

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

I hear ya'! I guess 40 is middle age and I am a few months shy of that mark, but I sure don't think of myself as in the middle of my life. I still think I am squarely in the first half.

But I disagree about Oprah, girl! I love her, through and through. I don't care that she is on all the magazine covers (my husband, my Matt, also can't stand that) and that people follow her. For the most part she is encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles, to read, to use their talents for the greater good, etc. So what if she has a big ego? I think she is justified.

And, my dream, seriously, on my list of "before I die" things, is to be a guest on Oprah! Not for some horrific reason but b/c I am sharing about something like SPD or maybe even blogging!

Jordan said...

OMG, Emily, I DID see that Onion piece but just totally killed myself laughing just over the headline all over again! And that's why I love the Onion - they read my mind!

I don't know...I don't feel middle aged either, but then what are we called in our late 30s? I think think the middle of our lives is a lot longer than it used to be because we humans are living so long. But nothing made me feel more middle-aged than enjoying Oprah today. Although, Emily, I think Ladies Home Journal would certainly have the same effect! ;-)

And Shan, what's on TV?? We don't have cable, accidental or otherwise, so our reception isn't that good and haven't seen anything on network TV that's worth watching in years. There are days when I do think I'd like to get cable, but only if I could also afford TiVo so that I could have what I want to see available to me and be able to FF through the ads.

Anyway, I'm glad Oprah has die hard fans for the exact reasons Lori stated - like I said, I don't dislike her and I have respect for her. It's just the empire thing that bugs me. I do read her magazine so I'm not totally dissing her here.

Shan said...

Oh, my dear Jordan, I'm so glad you asked!

First of all, there is nothing better than Friday night, when after an exhausting week with the girls, I get to settle in to watch "What Not to Wear" on TLC (it's on at 6 and 7, but I only get to see the 7 o'clock b/c I'm nursing G. to sleep at 6) and then "Friday Night Lights" on NBC at 8. Now, you may not know about "Friday Night Lights," and if you do, you may think it is a stupid football show that who in the world would watch? But then you have to start reading the critical reviews of it (starting last year, its first season) and you quickly understand the fact that it is secretly FANTASTIC IN EVERY WAY. Seriously, I adore this show. I have laughed out loud during it (this almost never happens to me) and I have cried, for real. I am totally hooked and can't miss a week for fear of not knowing what's going on. Hey, even The New Yorker loves it. It's not at all what you might think. But you might have to give it a few weeks to figure out who everyone is and what's going on. And, come to think of it, a person might actually need some sort of back-story summary of last season to truly understand the storylines. But I can't say enough good things about it. It's based on a small critically acclaimed movie of the same name that I never heard of or saw (because, come on now, it's about football? what kind of movie would I be less likely to go and see? little did I know).

So that's the best night. But honestly, are you telling me you don't even watch "The Office"? How?! Jordan, seriously, you would LOVE this show! (It was better in previous seasons, so the DVDs are highly recommended, but it's still the funniest thing on TV, easily.) It's on Thursdays on NBC.

I also like "Jon and Kate Plus 8", an ongoing "reality" documentary on TLC on Monday nights, about a very relatable 30-something couple in PA who had twins via infertility tx and then unexpectedly had SEXTUPLETS later on via infertility tx again (when they were looking to have just ONE more child). Yes, they now have 2 7-year-olds and 6 3-year-olds. I love this show despite the fact that in general I have zero interest in all these infertility tx-multiples stories, b/c a.) they are truly entertaining, fun, and funny to watch, and b.) watching it makes me feel--of course!--like my life is the EASIEST LIFE IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. Because you cannot feel stressed and overwhelmed about being home with a 3 year old and a 1 year old once you've watched an hour of Kate home with her 8 children. Seriously. Plus, this couple bickers like crazy, but you can tell they adore each other, so....it's very true-to-life and not as ridiculous as most "reality" shows tend to be (and, for the record, I detest most reality shows).

OK then! So, should I go on? This is great. Maybe I should switch gears and start a TV-watching blog! Or become a TV critic!

You'd never know that prior to last spring, we had no cable, and because we live basically in the country (we're technically in town, but on the very edge where we're surrounded by rolling farm-fields), we got next to no TV reception at all (only NBC, fuzzy and ONLY if it wasn't raining). Then we ordered "basic/reception cable", to try to finally get at least the main network channels, and somehow ended up with, you guessed it, 70-some channels. Without being charged for them. Of course, I went a little overboard with the TV-watching. But now I've made peace with it. I love it. It makes me very, very happy to tuck the babies into bed, curl up on the couch with my magazines or newspaper or catalogs or laptop full of blogs, a cup of cocoa, and switch on the TV for a little mindless entertainment. Ahhhh.....

(Should I shut up now? Whew, I got a little excited there for a minute.)

As for Oprah, what Lori said, exactly.

Do I get some sort of award for longest comment ever?

Emily, as some know me said...

As long as we're doing recommendations: We don't watch TV, either...at least, not when the shows are actually on. We buy the DVDs and watch them when we have the chunks of time available. Jordan, two words: Arrested Development. If you haven't watched this show, do. And The Office is just hysterical, as Shan said.

I just have to say, for some reason, I find it so hard to process those little letters we type in for word verification. I wonder why that is?

Jordan said...

Emily, that's exactly what we do, too! We rent The Office and one other one we love that I can't think of at the moment (help, Matt!) from Netflix (perfect when you need to keep a DVD for months!)...but when those are in the house we still only watch TV about once every three or four weeks. And, yes, after we'd rented all of Arrested Development on Netflix we bought the whole series because there is nothing - NOTHING! - we think is funnier than Arrested Development! When one of us is having a bad day we try to make time for an episode before bed and then the world is a better place. You've definitely got us pegged, Emily.

Jordan said...

I know it would come to me: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - love it (in small doses! it's painful!). And now that I've thought about it I've come to my senses - no way do we watch one of those shows every 3-4 weeks. Matt's probably laughing right now...more like every 2 months. Time just flies so it SEEMS like we do more often, maybe that's it.

Emily, as some know me said...

I kind of find "Curb..." almost too painful.

Something else that just makes me cry with laughter is "Flight of the Conchords." They have a David Bowie episode that had me in tears from beginning to end. Oh. My. God. That was so funny.

I thought I might have vaguely remembered a mutual interest in Arrested Development.

Shan said...

I'm so glad to hear you have seen The Office. We love Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVD too.

Drama Mama said...

I used to go steady with Oprah in my thirties. Then I turned 40, and wanted nothing to do with her. Maybe a little too close to home? Watching those well-coiffed, sort of zaftig middle aged women kvell over free stuff, and middle-aged women revealing that they no longer desired their husbands?

No. I turned forty and started wearing sparkly makeup and watching LOST and talking about it with my students.

Uh-uh. I ain't going there. Or if I do, I'm going kicking and screaming.