Friday, February 19, 2010

Confessions of a Reality Showaholic ... Are There Others?

 (Clean House)

(Dancing with the Stars)

(Food Network Challenge - Last Cake Standing)


My name is Kiki and I'm a reality showaholic.   Calling myself a reality showaholic may be a tad dramatic, but isn't that what reality shows are all about ... drama, mayhem, foolishness, a hot mess ...  now shoo fly shoo.  

Oops, did I just channel my inner Niecy Nash of Clean House?  But you won't find me grabbing my remote to watch Jersey Boys, Keeping Up with the  Kardashians or the latest, Jersey Girlicious -- not my cup of Chai.  

(The Amazing Race)

Like Eating Potato Chips, 
You Can't Stop at One  

I can't get enough of Big Brother, Amazing Race, Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, Food Network Challenge, Chopped and America's Next Top ModelThe latter started as research, but I never stopped watching.  Even A&E's The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty reeled me in when I wasn't looking.  I hope to see more in the future.  And the list goes on and on." 


Fortunately for me, they don't all air 
at the same time and season.

(Say Yes to the Dress - TLC)


(American Idol - Boston Auditions)

You Didn't Mention American Idol?

That's because I don't watch it.  Did I just hear a nationwide gasp.  Sad but true, I didn't catch the idol fever.  

Maybe I'll do tee shirts for the ten of us who don't tune into this beloved show.  I may watch during a commercial break in the beginning when the contestants are hilarious.  They're not going to let a little thing like, not carrying a tune, stop them from being the next American Idol.   I admire their courage.

A reality show contestant's life can change overnight.

Latest American Idol cast off, Angela Martin was in for a big surprise when Ellen Degeneras invited her to sing, Alicia Keyes "Super Woman" on her show.  

According to, DeGeneres recruited "Idol" judge and hit songwriter Kara DioGuardi to surprise Angela.  "I have a little surprise for you.  Kara DioGuardi is going to write you a song," DeGeneres told a surprised Martin. "You're going in a studio. She's going to produce a song for you and we're gonna get you a record label [deal]!! See how things turn out?"  

This is an example of "joy cometh in the morning," but Angela has already had her "weeping endureth for a night" share of tragedies at the age of 28.  Angela's mother has been missing since December.  Her father was murdered by her stepmother and her ten-year-old daughter has Rett Syndrome, which causes seizures.  

That's why I love reality shows, they bring dreams to life despite challenges and tragedies.

And I can't leave out the game shows.  I have to get my daily dose of  Wheel of Fortune and Discovery Channel's Cash Cab.

What's Cash Cab?  
It's a  New York City cab ride that pays you.

Passengers enter the Cash Cab and become instant contestants on a game show.  Ben Bailey, the host and driver drives you to your destination while asking general knowledge questions that earn you money.  But if you answer three questions wrong, he pulls the cab over and kicks you out.  

If you get to your destination without three strikes, you're a winner eligible to double your winnings with a video bonus question.  I've seen a person leave the cab with $4,000.    


Kiki here, enter iCafe Woman Moderne, a midcentury modern virtual cafe with your favorite beverage, and you'll step into our version of a reality show in cyberspace.   I let my best server, Charming Gidget Jones get into my head about my reality show affection.  Yikes!


"Be patient and you will finally win, for a soft tongue can break hard bones."  Proverbs 26:13

Here we are in iCafe Woman Moderne's Sunroom.  Me with my Dulce de Leche Latte and Charming with her camcorder and ready questions.


1. How did you get hooked on reality shows?  
People are interesting, it doesn't get any more simple than that.  Oh, who am I kidding.  You get suck into these shows like pennies to a vacuum cleaner.  

2. Why do you watch them?
Writers are observers of the human condition, what better way to observe the human condition than through a reality show?  There's a plethora of story ideas on what I like to call:  "Me, Myself and I," television. 

Why Americans Love Reality Television?  A Psychology Today article said it's because they see ordinary people attract millions to watch them.  A secret hope is that they will be next.

3. Would you be a contestant on one?
Sure, I just need to shed my chicken feathers first.  Maybe if I was a professional cook or interior designer, I'd enter The Next Food Network Star and HGTV's Design Star.  No way could I become a Survivor, I itch if I see too many bumps on the contestants.
5. Name a reality show you won't watch?
That's easy, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  After seeing Jason Mesnick, 2009 Bachelor,  break off his engagement to Melissa Rycroft with the runner-up waiting in the wings -- I vowed never to watch again. 

Melissa handled herself with class.  Most women would've made sure he left with a limp.  Jason, on the otherhand, tarnished his squeaky clean image when he chose his runner up weeks after the finale.  She sat in Melissa's seat before it cooled off. 

A day or so later, Melissa danced her way into the hearts of viewers on Dancing with the Stars.  This Average Joan had her happy ending despite the storm.  She recently married and snagged a correspondent gig at Good Morning America.  I wonder how the runner-up is faring with Jason?

Reality Shows have changed the lives of many contestants, for the viewers -- not so much.  What they do for me is entertain and make me appreciate my life more.  For that hour, I can solve someone else's problems and forget my own.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice ... Little Girls Are Watching Us

(Girl in Easter Dress)

 (Girl in Pink) 

We may think our little girls aren't watching the world around them.  That our sugar and spice and everything nice angels are living in this safe, innocent world we created with no chance of being touched by the negative images of women and society's perceptions of beauty.  Hoping that when they grow up they would be judged by their character and not their bra cup.

Reality sets in when we notice their curious eyes soaking in the sights and sounds from inside their booster seat in the family caravan.  Or we catch a puzzled stare at a weight loss television commercial bogarting the airwaves during an iCarly episode.

(Chubby Cheeks)



Billboards, magazine covers, reality shows and even the seductive poses of store mannequins are all competing for their attention. What will they think when the family caravan stop at a traffic light and they see this?

They see the Hooter Girls posing for photos with men and only men. Ten and 15 years earlier these same Hooter girls watched us.  Did we give them the right messages about beauty and self-esteem? 


Did we empower them with strength to be themselves and not follow the crowd?  Did we show them we're not sex objects and should be treated with respect?  Did we tell them that they can pursue any dream with determination and hard work?  

Did they see the women astronauts, Mission Specialists on the Orbiter Vehicle Endeavor, Dr. Mae C. Jemison and Jan Davis?  Did they see the stay-at-home mom who home-schooled her children--  or see the judge and bakery owner volunteer at a soup kitchen?  Did they meet enough women carpenters, mechanics, architects and writers?


Kiki here, and right now our iCafe Woman Moderne patrons of our virtual cafe are venting inside about the television show, "Undercover Boss" airing last Sunday (Valentine's Day) and featured the CEO of the Hooters Restaurant Chain, Coby Brooks.  He went undercover to find out how his company functioned behind the scenes.

When he asked women on the street what they thought of Hooters, they echoed what many women have voiced since opening their doors in 1983.  It's not a family restaurant but, more importantly, the servers' attire and the Boys Club atmosphere starting with the name "Hooters" degrade women.


 (Coby Brooks CEO of Hooters Restaurant  - Undercover)

The servers said, they didn't feel degraded.  They loved their jobs and didn't see any difference in wearing the Hooters outfit and wearing a bathing suit, except they felt more covered up in their Hooters outfit.

I watched "Undercover Boss" with hopeful anticipation that changes would be made starting with the attire.

I've eaten at Hooters and enjoyed the food, but not the atmosphere.  The servers' shorts barely cover their hips and the tops are tight and revealing.  It was mostly full of men.  I didn't see a table of women hanging out after work.  The few women there were with men, but there were no families.  It had a bachelor party feel to the place. 

A special on buffalo wings (one of my favorites) drew me to the restaurant with my husband while vacationing.  We dined on the Hooters patio and gazed at the scenic waterfront that thankfully blocked out the noise and locker room atmosphere. 

On "Undercover Boss," Jimbo, a Texas manager, decided to make the girls do a bean eating contest without hands to determine who would leave work early.  He called it the Reindeer Game.  Before that, he inspected them like they were cattle ready to be slaughter, instead of treating them like the beautiful flowers they are.

I'm very disappointed in the CEO.  I thought that once he returned to his corporate life he'd change the servers' attire to bring more families to the restaurant.  I was hoping for longer shorts or skorts and classier tops.  

That of course didn't happen.  Jimbo, who degraded the girls, was only told to apologize and to become more respectful and politically correct in his management style.  That's it.  No probation.  No suspension.  No sensitivity training.  Nothing.  He should have been fired or at least made to do his own Reindeer Game wearing a Hooters outfit customized for his full figure.

His reasoning for the game, they were prima donnas and  needed to be knocked down a peg.   He said, they needed a taste of the real world.   It left a sour taste in my mouth that no peppermint could sweeten.

Our little girls are watching and some are copying before they even get to the teen years.  Case in point, a few days ago on the Wendy Williams show, a hot topic discussed was a new fashion trend for girls ages 9 to 13 -- lingerie designed for tween girls. I kid you not.


Our little girls are watching, we have to do better.  How will you answer when she asks Mommy, Auntie, Grandmom ... what's a hooter?


Dove's Real Beauty campaign and the growing number of self esteem books for girls, tweens and teens hitting the shelves give me hope.

In 2004, Dove released a study they used as a spring
board to launch their Campaign for Real Beauty.  Here are the findings:
  • Only two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful.
  • Sixty-three percent strongly agree that society expects women to enhance their physical attractiveness. Forty-five percent of women feel women who are more beautiful have greater opportunities in life.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most woman can't ever achieve."
  • The majority (76%) wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
  • Seventy-five percent went on to say that they wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including age, shape and size.

Drop Dead Diva, a new series on the Lifetime produced an episode where a recently divorced mother was fired from a restaurant because she gained weight and no longer looked the way the owner wanted his servers to look.  Did Hooters inspire this storyline? 

Little girls are watching, can we afford to hide our heads in the sand? We need to give them strong, confident women working their dreams and being positive role models for those curious eyes, which are also what little girls are made of.