Remember when Oprah Winfrey was going to complete her path to world domination by launching her own television network? You don’t? Let me assure you, this was actually a real thing, as evidenced by an article from the New Yorker from 2011: OWNing it: Oprah Winfrey’s New Cable Channel. Head on over there and refresh your memory a bit.
Ah, yes, it’s all coming back to you now. Wasn’t it also predicted that, after starting her own network, Oprah would rule television the same way she had ruled the afternoons of American women for years and years and years? And before long all 1500 channels of our 60 inch high definition televisions would be full of nothing but Oprah Winfrey, and she would give each of us a new Chevy Cruz (or something). And yet, here we are, nearly two years after the network was launched, and it appears Ms. Winfrey’s evil plot has been (mostly) thwarted. I don’t mean to frighten you, but the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is still broadcasting, and there are a bunch of painful shows on the schedule, such as Oprah’s Next Chapter where she interviews famous rich people, who talk about being rich and famous, and Super Soul Sunday where she interviews famous rich people, who talk about being rich, famous, and “spiritual.” It appears that they also eat pancakes on that show. In my opinion, the show needs (much) more pancakes and less spirituality.
But there’s also a show about sex on the broadcast schedule over at OWN. It’s called In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman. Those of you who have ever been trapped on a long drive in a part of the country with poor FM radio reception are probably familiar with the type of show Dr. Berman hosts, where the less (more?) pathetic half of a dysfunctional couple calls in and asks a stranger on the radio to solve his/her life problems. Meanwhile, (hundreds?)
thousands of voyeuristic listeners giggle (and by “giggle” I mean “laugh uproariously”) about the caller’s problem. And feel superior. Did I mention the part about feeling superior? Because while these shows purport to offer “self help” to their audience, what they really offer is a chance for us to feel less hopeless about our own miserable situations, and go to bed comforted by the thought that at least we haven’t gotten to the point where we’re making a fool of ourself on some radio call in show.
The subjects of Dr. Berman’s television show don’t even get to maintain the last bit of dignity being an anonymous voice on the radio offers. On In the Bedroom, they’re right out there, showing their real faces, and giving their real (first) names. In the second season premiere, Dr. Berman tries to solve the problems of Chanda and Mario, who are not even married yet. Someone needs to explain to me when we decided that paying for professional help was the way to go instead of just dumping a guy when he turns out to be a dick.
I blame it on the Opray Winfrey-ization of America.
Beginning December 4, you can catch In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman every Tuesday at 10/9c on OWN.
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