Everything I know about all that is good and true in the universe has been shattered. I stared in wide-eyed dismay at the television screen and shriveled back in horror. No, not the State of the Union address, because seriously… you didn’t think I’d exchange an hour of my life to watch garbage spew from the weird, round little mouth of the Toddler in Chief, did you? Come on. You know me better than that.
It happened on my recent trip to Los Angeles, while staying with my sister. After five straight days of celebrating my daughter’s 30th birthday a little too boisterously, by the fifth night, we were all spent, and while one last round of karaoke and Jello shots at the corner karaoke bar sounded enticing, a “chill & TV” night sounded even better.
But which show to watch? My sister and her boyfriend like sports. I’d rather stab knitting needles through my eyeballs. My husband, probably only one eyeball, but still. My daughter would probably rather stab knitting needles through everyone else’s eyeballs than watch sports.
She has a dark side.
But she loves comedy. What a conundrum, that daughter of mine.
My husband would pick anything to do with science, which would make my sister whither and die of boredom. Me, I’d go for MSNBC political porn or maybe my guilty pleasure, my secret little “happy place,” The Voice.
Yes, I love The Voice.
Don’t judge me.
In summary, there is no television show in existence that would please everyone. So, I decided to just take charge and grabbed the remote. The first show listed on the channel guide was Ellen’s Game of Games. Bingo. It has lots of action, like sports. It’s a reality competition like The Voice. It’s comedy, because, come on — Ellen DeGeneres is one of the funniest human beings alive.
Sadly, no science for Joe, but that’s what more wine is for.
Now, I’ve seen “Hollywood Game Night” a couple times, not intentionally but because it just happened to be playing when I turned on the TV and I was feeling too lazy to change the channel. That show was amusing enough, and also hosted by a tall, blond, wickedly talented and super cool lesbian — Jane Lynch — so I’m figuring Ellen’s show is something along those lines.
It’s so not.
So so SO not.
By the time the first competition was over, I wanted to grab a couch cushion, clutch it in front of me and peer out over the top with one eye in sheer dread. This was no happy, cutesy, feel-good game show. It was also not a mere public humiliation for a prize of $100,000, for which some people will apparently do anything — not only to themselves but also their spouses, partners, relatives and friends. Beyond all that zany nonsense, Ellen’s Game of Games was alarmingly dangerous!
And that’s where the cognitive dissonance twisted my brain like a saltwater taffy machine. There was Ellen DeGeneres… sweet, adorable Ellen DeGeneres… with her big bright sparkling blue eyes and cuddly voice and dazzling smile… serving as glib ringmaster to a cheering three-ring circus of public sadomasochism.
(Note to Ellen, as well as the contestants… you realize there are private clubs for that, right?)
Exhibit A: the “You Bet Your Wife” competition. Husband is pitted against husband, while their wives dangle face down in harnesses on wires, blindfolded, high above huge vats of whipped cream. The husbands were asked to bet how many questions their wives could answer on a particular topic. If their wives fall short, they literally fall — right into the whipped cream.
Now, you’re thinking, “So what, they got sticky, big deal.” Oh no, my friend — the whipped cream was the least of my concerns. The women were suddenly dropped without warning, and the wires would yank them to a halt just above the whipped cream, like Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” then hoisted back up, poised to be dropped again.
Hmmm… Oprah used to give cars to her TV show guests. What does Ellen give them? A neck brace? Set of crutches? Free ride to the emergency room?
(Note to chiropractors and personal injury lawyers… start advertising on the Ellen’s Game of Games show, and pass out business cards at the door. A cornucopia of new clientele awaits you.)
So, the loser of “You Bet Your Wife” ultimately gets completely dropped — SPLAT! — into the whipped cream. No surprise. But the winner? She also gets a Coliseum-style thumbs down from Ellen and abruptly plummets into the whipped cream too.
In another competition (the name escapes me, because I was irreparably traumatized by that point), three people stood on platforms and were asked ridiculously easy rapid-fire questions (apparently there’s an inexhaustible supply of idiots willing to risk great bodily injury and public humiliation if the price is right), and the bottoms of the platforms of those who answered incorrectly suddenly drop out and they fall screaming to who knows where. And the winner? You guessed it. Down she goes.
And there’s Ellen, chipper and charming as a glitter-pooping unicorn, orchestrating the whole thing, clearly entirely unbothered by flaunting her sadistic side, and that’s the most distressing part of this entire freak show. If we can’t believe in Ellen anymore, what can we believe in? Down is up, up is down — what sort of bizarro alternate universe have we landed in? Evil Ellen is as unimaginable as Altruistic Trump. But there it was. Evil. Pure, adorable evil.
You can’t detect it on the surface, but just like my darling daughter, Ellen has a dark side. However, unlike my daughter, based upon the pre-carnage I witnessed, I’m certain Ellen would actually use the knitting needles. And, there’d be plenty of enthusiastically hyperventilating idiots perfectly willing to loan their eyeballs as targets for a chance to win some cash.
Hey, Joe… pass the wine.