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Mindless TV Is the Answer You Seek

Everywhere you look is another bad thing, still. Watching garbage can help.

Hello friend, have you noticed things are bad today? Or that they were uniquely bad yesterday? Or, oh wow, don’t even get me STARTED on last week??

From the moment I open my eyes and start the job that requires me to be aware of things happening online, I am inundated: KANYE WEST FOR PRESIDENT (I won’t be addressing that in this post or possibly ever.) HARPER’S MAGAZINE letter (the lamest trick the devil ever pulled was popping up once every six months to rail against “cancel culture” and get everyone mad enough to talk about him for days.) Today’s hell? DEBRA MESSING (mute word for: forever).

And in New York, we’re still in quarantine, although the extent to which we should be cloistering ourselves becomes less clear by the day. Five months along, I’ve tried and failed to make sourdough, thought about getting “back” into yoga, done upgrades to my apartment, bought new plants, and started calling my mom more (shoutout to my mother, a Founding Member of Discourse Blog!) Each of these things has provided some relief from the daily horror of living in their own way, some more temporarily than others.

The One True Low Stakes Balm for My Soul that I’ve found? Absolute garbage television.

Oh, you’re tearing through Criterion movies you’ve always told yourself you’d watch if you just had the time? I’ll be over here, blissfully hooked on Homeland Rescue, a Discovery Channel show about the Raney family, which has decades of homesteading experience living in remote Alaska, showing up to bail out other fledgling off-the-grid homesteaders. (The show is shockingly free of the kind of “don’t tread on me” politics you’d expect people drawn to this lifestyle would imbue, but if the sainted Raney family turn out to be racists, I’ll be beside myself.) Turns out, it’s much harder to satisfy the simple requirements for life when you’re living in the the middle of nowhere!

Next in my current lineup? Netflix’s The Politician. When Discourse Blog’s Aleks Chan described the show with such raves as “felt like I was on drugs” and the show’s second season, which adds BETTE MIDLER to the cast, as “the craziest season of television I have ever seen,” I knew I had to watch. He was exactly right!! Ben Platt plays the role he was born to play—a conniving, super-rich high schooler who wants to be president someday and will stop at nothing to make that a reality. His mom is Gwyneth Paltrow playing herself!!! Every single episode is insane to the point of being difficult to follow!! But I am not invested; I let it wash over me like a cool wave—pure zen.

What happens when you take a bunch of normies and make them compete in a game show that’s like American Ninja Warrior meets vintage Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple? You get Floor is Lava, also on Netflix. (Naturally, I burned through the steaming platform’s reality shows Love Is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, and The Circle shortly after they were released.) In Lava, the contestants attempt to leapfrog and use tools to traverse a themed obstacle course (the first one is styled with fake antiquities like an Indiana Jones movie) to avoid—you guessed it—falling in the “lava.” What happens when they do? Not much, they’re simply out of the game! They’re only competing to perhaps split $10,000 THREE WAYS, after taxes!!! None of these people are even big athletes! A minimally stressful game show that I fell no need to compete with, unlike, say, Jeopardy—highly recommend. If you needed more reason to check it out? It’s a show with an unironic “fails” compilation. Just what my smooth brain needs the most:

What mindless, bullshit, or otherwise low stakes TV is getting you through these days? Please let me know—I’ll be in the market for my next show before I know it.

Image via YouTube