Misery: That's entertainment?

Kevin Cowherd

April 28, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

If I had to categorize my wife's taste in TV programming, I' say it leans heavily toward Gloom, Suffering and Despair.

The woman is always watching movies about battered wives who set fire to their abusive husbands, pregnant women dying of cancer while desperately trying to save their babies, psycho baby sitters who kidnap their charges, college co-eds stalked by unbalanced would-be suitors, innocent children ensnared in bitter divorce proceedings, anguished HIV-positive gays coming out of the closet to their distraught parents, disillusioned teen-age runaways who turn to crime and prostitution, glamorous, fast-track executives reduced to bitter paraplegics in terrifying car wrecks.

But she won't let me rent "Aliens 3" because it's too "disturbing." Figure that one out.

In any event, Sunday has become her favorite night for watching TV, since that's the night the networks love to trot out these tear-jerkers.

Sure enough, last Sunday NBC was showing something called "Born Too Soon" -- the title alone lets you know this isn't "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms."

This was the cheery story of a premature baby (1 pound, 11 ounces) who fights for her life and the terrible strain it puts on the marriage of her journalist parents, who pretty soon are all but chasing each other around with butcher knives.

Me, I don't understand how anyone can watch this stuff -- it's basically two hours of unrelenting gloom.

A baby struggling to survive . . . a marriage doing a crash and burn . . . I mean, my God! Why don't they throw in a few shots of the dog getting run over, too?

I'm telling you, if I sat and watched this stuff for 20 minutes, I'd be gobbling fistfuls of Prozac like they were sunflower seeds.

By the third or fourth commercial, I'd be on the roof of the nearest tall building, threatening to jump.

Way down below, they'd have traffic stopped and an air bag inflated and an Emergency Services cop with a bullhorn would be trying to talk me down.

Meanwhile, I'd be on a ledge sobbing: "All these movies . . . can't take it anymore . . . no one's ever happy . . . one crisis after another . . ."

I'm serious. That's how upset those movies make me.

But my wife watches these things all the time and actually seems to enjoy them, even though she's usually misty-eyed by )) the time they're over.

In fact, the more depressing the preview in the TV listings, the more she seems to look forward to the movie.

Last night she sat down to watch another one of these freak shows, something called "The Price She Paid," starring Loni Anderson.

(OK, about Loni Anderson. There are certain actresses who, when their names are mentioned, automatically make you think: bad TV tear-jerker. Loni Anderson is one of them. Others include: Mariel Hemingway, Joanna Cassidy, Cheryl Ladd.

(For instance, whenever I think of Farrah Fawcett, all I see is a bedraggled woman with two black eyes walking around with a can of Sunoco 190, ready to torch her abusive old man in "The Burning Bed" or whatever that monstrosity was called that she starred in a few years ago.)

I know the woman's had many other roles, going back to her

she-sure-fills-out-a-bathing-suit work in the vapid "Charlie's Angels" series. Doesn't matter. To me, she'll always be creeping into a bedroom with a gas can and a Bic lighter.)

Anyway, I happened to walk by the TV as the opening credits for "The Price She Paid" were rolling.

"What's this one about?" I asked. "No, let me guess. A California woman's baby is stolen by her Islamic fundamentalist ex-husband and spirited to some Middle Eastern country?"

"Nope," she said.

"A woman marries the man of her dreams, falls off a cliff on her honeymoon, suffers amnesia -- now only her heroic husband can pierce the shadowy veil that threatens to engulf her and destroy her life?"

"Nope."

"A yuppie couple's worst nightmare comes true as the young wife is stalked by a deranged apartment complex superintendent, based on a true story?"

"Strike three, you're out," my wife said.

It turned out the movie was about -- and we're quoting directly from TV Guide here: "Loni Anderson plays a rape victim accosted 12 years later by her convicted assailant, a scheming charmer who's now out of prison and seeking joint custody of the son he sired in the rape."

And they wonder why I watch "Barney and Friends."

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