Did you hear? Martha Stewart recently became to the world of homemaking what Pat Robertson is to conservative, fundamentalist Christianity – grand arbiter of taste, behavior, and etiquette. That’s right! As of September 13, Martha is no longer limited to simply having her own television show. She now has her very own television channel.
The Hallmark Channel – you know, the one where they show those ‘wholesome’ movies that make people like me cringe – decided to make Martha Stewart the living embodiment of homemaking. From 10 a.m. in the morning to 6 p.m. in the evening, the Hallmark Channel airs nothing but Martha-esque lifestyle programming.
A Martha Stewart Marathon – all day, every day.
Martha-esque lifestyle programming is code for America’s first and only reality-based artificial television show. It’ll be along the lines of The Donna Reed Show, My Three Sons, and Leave It To Beaver. Television programming that has no connection to any type of reality anywhere in the known universe. Plastic perfect people in plastic perfect settings. The kind of people that don’t exist except in TV-land. They’re simulacrums – copies of copies.
According to Hallmark, the new lineup, of course, features The Martha Stewart Show (the one that already existed) followed by two new original series, which are supposed to be reality shows. In fact, they have about as much to do with reality as vampires, zombies or Harry Potter. The first is a “newsy-talk show” hosted by Stewart’s daughter Alexis and her pal, Jenn Hutt. The phrase “newsy-talk show” means celebrities who are in the news come on the show and talk about things like placemats and flower arrangements and how to de-bone a chicken. Called Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer, the name of the show pretty much sums up the tone of the show.
The second new show is called Mad Hungry, a name that conjures up visions of Jim Cramer – the Mad Money guru – stuffing a Christmas turkey with shredded Dow Jones reports. However, Jim Cramer is not on the new show, which is too bad. At least he’s entertaining, in a zany sort of way.
Mad Hungry is a family-focused food show, starring Lucy Quinn, who wrote a cookbook of the same name. The premise of the show is that Quinn is one of those remarkable women who can and does do it all. She has three sons and a husband. All four males, handicapped by their gender, are unable to feed themselves. In other words, good old Mom has to cook and clean, while they sit around looking manly.
Quinn’s job is to show her viewers how they too can succeed at a full-time job, while still getting the food cooked (not some slop, mind you, but fabulous gourmet meals) and the table set. To the uninitiated, it sounds like the resurrection of slavery, but according to Hallmark, it’s not. “It’s a really interesting program with a difference.”
Supposedly, Mad Hungry takes place in Quinn’s home. But it doesn’t. It’s a television set that looks like the inside of a house. Her sons – who are popular and athletic – stop by and help Mom prepare the evening meal, which means they fetch stuff from the fridge for Mom. Friends drop by and dogs run around the house – domestic bliss at its best. In other words, non-reality programming at its best.
A third new series will debut in 2011. This show will be pet-focused rather than family-focused. Instead of how to care for and feed human males, it will cover how to care for and feed your pets. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the male of the species and pets in Martha-World.
Along with the above shows, prime time specials will be sprinkled in at appropriate intervals. For example, a Halloween special is planned that will help viewers plan their own Halloween parties, demonstrating easy-to-prepare Halloween food, and Halloween crafts.
Throughout the year, Martha herself will host a series of interview shows, where she will sit down and get up close and personal with select female celebrities. The first interview aired on September 19, and featured notable women in the world of fashion.
All in all, Hallmark’s abdication to the queen of homemaking is cause for new anguish. Wholesome movies and never ending re-runs of Little House on the Prairie are much to be preferred to the bland utterances of the self-styled High Priestess of Habitat Science.