While one might reasonably conclude that our society had already answered the question “How low can you go?” with a resounding “ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM!” and could reach no lower point, recent evidence points to the contrary. Yes, society has indeed reached the bottom of the well, but someone has thrown it a shovel, and it is digging quite enthusiastically towards the very bowels of hell – or China, whichever it hits first. This evidence comes in many forms, the most notable and prolific of which is “reality” television. And while I am not an avid partaker of the new great American pastime, I unfortunately cannot claim ignorance given the omnipresence of advertising.
To date, reality genres could be categorized as follows: the dysfunctional lives of celebrities, the dysfunctional lives of animals, the dysfunctional lives of people giving other dysfunctional people tattoos, dysfunctional people buying stuff and/or getting a makeover of one sort or another, and (in serpent-eating-its-own-tail style) the dysfunctional lives of people who are only celebrities because they were inexplicably cast in a reality television program. It’s like a picture of infinity. Or hell. Possibly both.
Until recently, I had remained blissfully unaware that yet another sublevel in the Reality House of Usher had been excavated. Netflix has peeled back that veil of innocence. In the spirit of helpfully suggesting programs our family may be interested in based upon our past preferences, this particularly fragrant morsel appeared in our “top ten” recommendations for reasons my husband has yet to satisfactorily explain to me: Parking Wars.
The premise: “Big city parking enforcement is surprisingly entertaining […].”
Yet “surprisingly” is a surprisingly inappropriate adjective in this application. To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The synopsis continues: “[…] resourceful officers cruise the streets to nab inventive citizens who break the law.”
To define parking one’s sedan for thirty minutes in a fifteen minute parking space as “breaking the law” seems a bit melodramatic. But perhaps we are underestimating the number of evil masterminds who routinely do so to facilitate their puppy beating. Fifteen additional minutes of puppy beating may help raise that parking violation from petty misdemeanor to, I don’t know, high treason.
To its credit, this is perhaps the only “reality series” which is truly about reality. Parking and meter maids – that’s pretty much as mundane as it gets. So…bravo, Parking Wars producers – someone has been reading their dictionary. However, upon further investigation, one is smacked in the face by the fact that there are FOUR SEASONS of this “show” – a full FIFTY-NINE episodes, which means one of two things: (1) American tolerance for the banal has reached unparalleled heights or (2) the Four Beer-Gutted Horsemen of the Apocalypse draw nigh.
Speaking of horsemen, adding “Wars” as a suffix to anything apparently raises it to the level of high entertainment. But if watching people park for an hour every week is insufficient to satisfy your ravenous reality needs, you can stay tuned for…
Grass Wars: Whose fertilizer will prevail against raging lawn parasites and the neighbor’s prolifically pooping pooch? Tune in each week as we meticulously measure every blade to determine who has won this week’s…Grass War.
Produce Wars: Ethel is a gritty old broad with an eagle’s eye for peach perfection, but Agnes can out-squeeze her in the orange aisle any day of the week (‘cept when her rhoomy-tism is actin’ up). Who will pick the prevailingly perfect peck of produce plenitude? Watching old ladies shop for produce will never be the same.
Pants Wars: With an entire closet full of possibilities, which pair of pants will he choose? In this pants-eat-pants world, it’s every pair of khakis for itself. Amidst the clash of the corduroys, the Hammer pants havoc, the overalls onslaught, and the bloomers blitzkrieg, he may win today’s britches battle, but who will win the Pants Wars?
Thus, let us relinquish our flights of fancy and content ourselves with the mundane. Cast off those daring dreams that inspired our ancestors to forge bravely beyond the edge of the world and discover new lands. Surely, through generations of blood, sweat, and tears, we have earned our place within the historical Snuggie in front of the proverbial boob tube. Yes, fellow countrymen (and countrywomen), the time has come to shed that boundless ambition and endeavoring spirit embodied in the Great American Dream, which has characterized our culture for centuries. For I say unto you that a new age has dawned – and behold, the Jester has become the Meter Maid.