What I Learned from Commercials

I rarely see commercials anymore, because I rarely watch live TV anymore. The few shows that I do watch are all recorded on my PVR, and I skip over the commercials. I’m optimizing the time spent in front of the television by sticking to the good stuff. Sometimes I do see the occasional commercial, because I happen to be watching something live, or more likely my husband is watching a live sporting event and I’m in the room. In spite of the fact that I’m not completely up-to-speed on each and every commercial currently in rotation, when I do see one I can see that not much has changed.

There’s a particular world view that is portrayed in television commercials. In my 35 years on this planet I have seen enough commercials that I have absorbed this world view, sort of by osmosis. In the process, I’ve learned a few lessons about the way life works. Or, at least, the way it works in TV commercials.

Lessons Learned from TV Commercials

1. Bars are populated almost entirely by attractive young people, who all drink only one kind of alcoholic beverage. You’ll never see a person drinking Budweiser at a Coors bar – no way. You also won’t see neon signs for more than one kind of alcoholic beverage in the same bar, because that would be disloyal.

2. Women love yogurt. Seriously, we can’t get enough of it. I may personally only eat it occasionally, but I am clearly in the minority. Sarah Haskins would agree:

3. Menstrual fluid, in spite of what I may believe from personal experience, is actually blue. Every commercial shows it as such, so it must be true.

4. Women hang out in their underwear a lot, and their bra and panties always match. The fact that mine rarely do is clearly a serious personal defect. Also, the fact that when I’m chilling I prefer to wear pajama pants and an old cotton T-shirt is probably just plain weird.

5. Cleaning is really, really hard, and whatever you’re cleaning had better be absolutely filthy before you start. Also, while you’re scrubbing, you’ll have to pause often to blow a stray hair out of your eyes, which makes the whole thing even harder. Luckily, though, there’s a miracle product than can help.

6. The true measure of femininity is how smooth your legs are. Don’t let any feminists with hairy legs tell you anything different.

7. If you have an erection that lasts longer than four hours, you should seek medical attention. Also, taking erectile dysfunction medication probably improves your athletic performance. So you should totally ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

8. When your hair is really silky, it will move in slow motion. Seriously. It’s like a proven scientific fact.

9. Most women are a size zero. Men may come in many different shapes and sizes, but the ladies don’t seem to so much.

I’m not sure commercial-land is a place I’d want to live, now that I think about it. In any case, as I’m not a size zero and my bra and panties don’t match, I’m probably not allowed. I think I’ll just stay where I am, and eat something that isn’t yogurt.

What about you – what have you learned from TV commercials?

30-Something High School Students

Today I want to talk about one of the defining issues of our times. It’s not health care or peace in the Middle East or climate change. No, it’s something much more serious than that. I want to talk about actors in their 30s who play high school students on TV.

When I was 15 the original Beverly Hills, 90210 TV series was in its heyday. I was a big fan. I tuned in religiously to see what Brenda, Brandon and the gang were up to. And what they were mostly up to was playing characters much younger than themselves. They pretended to engage in drama that really, for the adults they actually were, wasn’t all that shocking. When the second season debuted in 1991 everyone on the show was supposed to be around 16. However, the real age of the 8 actors portraying teenagers ranged from 18 to 30, with an average of 22.5. By graduation day 2 1/2 years later ‘student’ Gabrielle Carteris was 32 years old.

That was almost 20 years ago now. Surely things have changed, right? In the era of HDTV, can a 30-something actor really pull off playing someone in their teens? I’m not sure, but based on two current TV shows set in high school things just may have gotten worse.

I love Glee. I don’t have cable but I manage to tune in every week over the internet. My kids and I listen to the music and dance while we make dinner. But in order to enjoy the show I have to ignore the fact that the ‘teenagers’ are stretching the bounds of believability. The actors playing 13 of the students range in age from 19 to 27, with an average of 23.2. And my guilty pleasure, the embarrassingly awful new 90210 series, is even worse. On that show, the actors playing teenagers have actual ages of 20 to 31, with an average of 24. On the last episode that I watched one of the ‘high school students’ had wrinkles.

I have often thought that I was too old to play a 17-year-old on TV. I may look young for my age, but I certainly don’t think that I look like a teenager. But based on my research, that doesn’t matter. So maybe if this writing and speaking thing doesn’t pan out I should consider acting. And heck, you should, too. Because apparently it’s totally cool in TV high school if one of the students is actually 6 years older than his teacher.

OK, so maybe it’s really not one of the defining issues of our times. But still, it kind of cheeses me off. Call it a pet peeve, or a petty quibble. I wonder if I am the only one who feels this way. Tell me, what bugs you in terms of casting choices for TV shows or movies? Is it 60-something men with 20-something love interests? The way that pregnancy and childbirth are portrayed? Bad writing? Please share!

Photo credits: Fox Broadcasting Company and The CW

Terrible TV I’ve Known and Loved

I don’t have a TV anymore. Our one and only TV set died a little over 6 months ago, and we’ve been undergoing an experiment to see how long we can last without it since. And we’ve lasted. It’s been especially nice to not have twice-daily battles about TV with our preschooler. For the most part, the TV-less lifestyle is working for us.

But the lack of TV doesn’t mean I don’t see any TV shows. Not by a long shot, thanks to the magic of the internet and the streaming broadcast. And the sad truth is that, as always, the TV I do see isn’t always what you would call good.

As a teenager my favourite show was Beverly Hills, 90210. Watching that was seriously the highlight of my week. I lived and breathed Brenda, Kelly and Dylan. And Brandon. Such a dreamboat, and played by a former Vancouverite, to boot. Now that it’s almost 20 years later, I am sort of appalled by the old episodes. But they continue to hold a certain nostalgia for me, and I can never hear that theme song without feeling a little thrill down my spine.

So you know I was first in line to see the new 90210. And it has not disappointed me one bit. The kids at West Bev are every bit as angst-ridden and melodramatic as they ever were. And beautiful, don’t forget beautiful. I haven’t missed a single episode.

Still, I think the worst TV program I watched, and watched religiously, has got be Charmed. Like the original 90210 it was an Aaron Spelling vehicle starring Shannen Doherty. But I stuck with it long after she left, oh yes I did. The series was about three sisters who also happened to be powerful witches, the ‘Charmed Ones’. Together they used their magic to battle evil and truly horrific storylines, wearing completely impractical tight-fitting clothing and high heels. But it was such fun I couldn’t stop watching. I stuck with it to the bitter end, man.

Those are some highlights, but there have been many more shows I’ve loved and watched with the blinds closed, lest somebody should see. Like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Judging Amy and Dawson’s Creek. Does anyone else remember Sisters or Once and Again? (I am clearly a big fan of Sela Ward). Oh, and let’s not forget about Big Brother. I could literally feel my brain cells oozing out my ears while I watched that.

Now, please share. I know I’m not the only one who’s seen way more than my fair share of bad TV. Spill!

I was inspired to write about bad TV today thanks to Mommy Melee‘s Girl Talk Thursday. For more TV confessions click the ‘Girl Talk Thursday‘ button.

Roch Voisine, je t’aime

I’ve been writing far too many serious blog posts lately. Designer babies! Breastfeeding! Gender! Teaching your children money management! In fact, I was going to post about the auto industry and the economic crisis today. Really. Like the world needs even more words dedicated to the whole fiasco. So instead I’m changing the pace a bit.

If you were a Canadian girl in 1990 or so, or if you have ever spent time in French Canada, then you know who Roch Voisine is. But maybe you haven’t had the pleasure. So I will now take the time to introduce you to my school girl crush, the man who inspired me to pull out my French-English dictionary and learn that sable means sand. Oh yes, I was sophisticated and wordly. I chose someone who sang in a whole other language while some of you were ga-ga over the New Kids.

helene_big3Roch Voisine is a French Canadian actor and musician, born and raised in New Brunswick. (Fun fact – New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province!) His Wikipedia page has all sorts of info about him, but here are just a few highlights:

– Roch was born on March 26, 1963
– Roch wanted to be a hockey player until he was injured (playing baseball!) in 1981
– Roch graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1985 with a degree in physical therapy
– In 1988 Roch hosted Top Jeunesse, a French-Canadian variety show for teenagers
– In 1991 France awarded Roch with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
– In 1997 Roch was made an officer of the Order of Canada
– Roch has two sons, Killian born in 2004 and Alix-Élouan born in 2006

And of course, Roch sings the best song ever, Hélène.

And, not as good, but there’s an English version too.

My friend brought me one of his tapes home from Quebec when I was 14, and I played that thing to death. Yes, it’s a touch cheesy, but I was 14. And also the man is French. Come on ladies, you have to admit the accent lends a certain je ne sais quoi. I think I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Roch Voisine.

Photo courtesy RV International Inc.

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