Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: Day time TV in Kiwi-land

Instead of spending the Fourth of July foisting American barbecue standbys on my Kiwi and other ex-pat friends (in the middle of winter, no less), I’ve spent the last two days in bed with a horrible case of the flu.

Today was the first day that I felt human, so I migrated to the couch and turned on the TV.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  But here is what I do know: daytime TV is terrible, no mater what country you live in.

Here are my musings on daytime TV, Kiwistyle.

First of all, from what I can tell, there is no Kiwi daytime programming (aside from the news).  Instead, it’s mostly American and British programs, with a few Aussie shows thrown in.  This is sad, because I’ve really fallen for Kiwi programming.  “Outrageous Fortune” is an absolute gem.  It tells the story of a West Auckland family (wrong side of the tracks, location wise) trying to rise above their low-level crime roots and make an honest go in the world.  Well, at least that’s what the matriarch of the family would like.   It was raw, foul-mouthed, racy, and not something that would have ever flown on American TV (from the naked body parts and preference for dropping the F-bomb at least 10 times per episode).  But it was full of the real stuff that people—all people—grapple with: love, redemption, grief, mercy, and greed.

I watched all six seasons over the course of several weekends a few months ago.  Too bad it finished its run last year.  It really was an amazingly good show.

Then there’s the hysterical “7 Days” comedy show on Friday nights.  Two teams of irreverent, politically incorrect comics commenting on the last seven days of Kiwi news through a series of challenges.  These guys (and gals) are sharp, smart, and seriously funny.  There’s a unique brand of Kiwi humor that is hard to describe.  Dry and incisive, like the Brits, but broad, like the Americans.  Well, if you’ve seen “Flight of the Concords”, you probably know what I’m talking about.  It’s an intriguing mix and one that I really like. If you can youtube Ben Hurley, do so.  At his best, he will have you in absolute hysterics.

I’ve even gotten hooked on a show called “Go Girls”, a show (from what I can tell) about five 30-somethings trying to make meaningful lives in Auckland. (Apparently, the only people who live in New Zealand live in Auckland.  We Wellington folk—the capital of the country, by the way—merit little more than the Parliament channel.)  Again, while some of the women are just so beyond my reality, I know women like them.  Mostly, though—like a good, forgettable pop song—it has a good beat, and I can dance to it.  Kiwi comfort TV at it’s finest.

I even find the curious and somewhat provincial “Country Calendar” enjoyable.  I’ve learned a lot about organic, sustainable farming and bee keeping.  You know, essential skills for my day job.

But back to daytime TV.

Where are my Frasier reruns?  Friends?  No.  No, instead, I get some show called Emmerdale, which is apparently a British soap opera set in the Yorkshire Dales. There’s really nothing more I can say about that.  Mostly because I didn’t understand anything that was going on, or what anyone was saying.

Then there’s The Fashion Show, a terrible knock-off of the far superior Project Runway. I’m sorry, Kelly Rowland, I love your music, but you cannot match the power of Heidi Klum’s austere frown and her definitive “You’re Out!”  And Isaac Mizrahi?  I love your designs, but you’re no Tim Gunn, either.

T and I are addicted to Project Runway.  Admittedly, we’re about a year behind from when the current series originally aired, but if Mondo doesn’t win, we’re both going to be screaming: “He was robbed!”  (The utterance of this phrase usually only occurs when we watch the rugby).  The final is this Thursday.  I’m away for work, but we’ve vowed to internet chat with each other throughout the episode.  We’ve only ever done that once before–the “Outrageous Fortune” finale.

Switching back to the daytime TV issue (sorry, I’m easily sidetracked.  I blame it on the flu). Mildly enjoyable from the accident-on-the-highway perspective is a show called the Jeremy Kyle show.  Imagine Jerry Springer with bad British accents and in which every story involves a DNA test.  However, after too many of the “Is he or isn’t he the daddy” stories, you start making a game of it.  Yes-yes-no-yes-no-no-yes.

One show I actually liked was a British show called “Come Dine with Me.”  The premise was a group of 5 people who eat at each other’s homes every night, scoring each host as they go.  Catty!  Fraught with kitchen disaster!  Terrible décor!  What more could you want?  This was like the prime rib of daytime TV. So of course, it was nowhere to be found today.

Rachel Ray rounds out the day.  I didn’t like her at home, I don’t like her here. Like The Fashion Show, she ain’t no Oprah.

Fortunately, the day is almost over and watchable TV will soon be on.  In fact, I should go.  Coronation Street starts in an hour.