Sunday, February 05, 2006

Counter Programming

Over on the WE network, they’re airing “Love Affair.” AMC has “Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.” E! offers up “100 Sexiest Celebrity Bodies” and TLC is going wall to wall with “Wild Weddings.”

Oh, and there’s something called the Super Bowl on ABC.

I stopped caring about the NFL the day the San Francisco 49ers traded Joe Montana to Kansas City, but I continue to tune into football’s annual championship game for the same reason I plug into all massive pop cultural events—water cooler talking points. Still, I appreciate the counter programming effort aimed at us chicks.

PBS stopped my remote in its tracks with a repeat of its "Regency House Party" series finale. Twenty-first Century singletons are sent back to the 19th, where they engage in elaborate courtship rituals. Would love or money, head or heart carry the day? I was transfixed by this Jane Austen novel come to life: empire gowns, sumptuous setting at an English manor, Mr. Darcy look-alikes, chamber pots. Superman has his kryptonite; I am brought low by romance. And I’m not alone. Of the 30,000 applicants for Regency House, 85 percent were women.

Then the splash of cold water. One of our heroines, Miss Hayley Conick, announces she would rather take her chances as a mistress than choose the fairy tale ending. The reality of Regency marriage: women turn over all property and rights, one-third die in childbirth and spousal abuse is perfectly acceptable.

I flip over to ABC. Mike Holmgren, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is talking about his wife Kathy, who is not attending the game today. She’s in the Congo, with one of the couple’s daughters, an M.D. Like Regency House, the ladies are doing without electricity and indoor plumbing. Unlike House, they’re busy training medical professionals in a part of the world where doctors are few and the need is overwhelming. “She gets to fulfill a dream,” Holmgren says proudly. Now there’s a Prince Charming.

Damn, ABC is good. They counter programmed themselves.


Luminous sightings “Most people know a little about the period from the luminous fiction of Jane Austen.”

Entertainment Weekly, Feb. 10 issue, pg. 34, item on Oscar nominee Charlize Theron: “…in 2003’s Monster, much of the focus was on her startling transformation from luminous beauty to broken-down beast.”

Entertainment Weekly, Feb.10 issue, pg. 56, item on Oscar nominee Amy Adams: “Adams has racked up…her first Oscar nomination for this luminous turn.”


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