Stay Tuned

By Margaret Lyons

The more TV I watch—and now that my B.A. has been turned in, it’s a lot more—the more shocked I am that network executives haven’t called me to help them make their shows better. I am overflowing with constructive and not-that-constructive criticism, so this week, “Stay Tuned” is changing channels to tell the monkeybutts in the TV world how to straighten up and fly right.

American Idol

AI is extremely good and probably always will be. Talent shows are more or less win-win—just ask the assclowns at Nashville Star. But Wednesday night, when Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson was eliminated? That was some bullshit. John Stevens is clearly suffering from severe dead-face (get checked for botulism, yo), and Jasmine’s whole flower thing is way tired. The folks at Fox should take a clue from Dream Job and let the judges have an actual vote. That is, America gets to vote on whom to keep (fewest yea votes = nay vote), and then each judge votes to cut someone. Whoever has the most adios-votes gets bounced. If Paula’s Botox-induced brain damage (get checked for botulism, too, yo) were of any consequence, or if Randy got to do something more than call people “pitchy,” and if Simon danced a special little jig of cruel but intriguing sexuality just for me—I mean, if Simon got to vote—the show would be more interesting. Barry Manilow knows what he’s doing. Let the man have a say.

The real way to shake stuff up, though, would be to have an unplugged night. These B-quality karaoke remixes are excruciating. From now on, you get a piano and an acoustic guitar. And quit that warbly crap.

The Sopranos

Doesn’t Tony have skin cancer? What happened with that? There was all this build-up about the word “squamous” and then nothing. You know why? Because there are too many goddamn characters. I know, I know, when you kill off so many people you have to replace them, but still. What happened to Meadow? I know she was playing Heidi Fleiss, but isn’t Jamie-Lynn under some kind of contract? Meadow is one of the more complex characters on the show, but post-Jackie Jr., she hasn’t had anything to do. No one cares about Steve Buscemi—it’s like this weird gag to have him on the show at all. Tony’s dad’s mistress is grossing me out, like, a lot, and the whole A.J.-is-just-a-useless-sack-of-shit angle is played out. Let’s get back to basics.

The Swan/I Want a Famous Face

All the blahblah about how these shows are really fucked-up, and how they highlight the most degrading and awful levels of our society, and how they play to fame-hungry, unhappy people, etc., is on the money. However, the most important way to make these shows better is—joking aside—to eliminate the language of need. Every episode, one of the doctors says, “She needs a tummy-tuck,” or “He needs a penis enlargement.” News flash: there’s no such thing as needing a tummy-tuck. She might want one, or that might be the premise of the show, but I think these doctors and their patients are struggling with the concepts of need and want. You need therapy; you want to look hot in bed. Except for that woman who had to shave every day—she kind of did need laser hair removal.

America’s Next Top Male Model

How does this show not exist? This show would rule. I would be glued to that shit every week, including the cruddy clip show. Will they refuse to pose nude? Is someone manorexic? When are they going to learn Blue Steel? Men are just as prone to drama as the ladies (see any season of The Real World), plus all that homoeroticism is v.v. hot right now. Tyra Banks, I hereby submit my application to be a celebrity judge.


Hottie sexpot character is going to Paris…or is she? What will her friends do? What will her on-again-off-again boyfriend do? That schlock was weak when they tried it on Sex and the City, and to watch it get rehashed on the F-train is just poor form. Do people even move to Paris? I know a lot of people and can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has threatened to move to Paris. I guess I don’t know anyone who’s a paleontologist, either, but shut up. Give us what we want, Friends writers: formulaic but endearing comedy, saucy one-liners, casual sex partners, an expensive lifestyle in a stylish New York setting…hey, wait a second.


There isn’t enough brooding and crying on this show, and there’s only one way to fix it: kill the little sister. Delia is annoying and whiny, and all her stupid precious/poignant moments would take on new and special significance if her character died. That bitch can’t keep a secret, and now everyone knows that Kimberly from Melrose Place has HIV. Little does Delia know that in Everwood, bean-spilling is punishable by ritualized death, preferably by stoning…preferably by the whole town…preferably in the park. I really liked The Lottery when I read it in high school, and I’m sure Shirley Jackson wouldn’t mind if Everwood ripped it off; she’s dead. Nothing says “we respect your literature” like milking it on the WB.

The Shield

I was so with The Shield until I saw the Most Disturbing Episode Ever. Now I’m kind of pissed. Pay attention, F/X. The Shield is good when: an interesting or unusual crime has been committed (for exceptions, see below); someone who seems like a good guy is a bad cop; someone who seems like a bad guy is a good cop; there is some nudity, but not as part of a sex crime; writers rely on generic copper drama; two cops fall into or out of love with each other; someone experiences family drama. The Shield is not good when: the captain is sexually assaulted; the racist cop gives one of the black cops the worst beating I have ever seen on TV; old ladies get raped. OK? Can we please stick to this formula? There is absolutely no need to bum me out this bad. If I wanted gruesome, sad, and disturbing, I’d watch The Swan.