After a Fashion

Garry Shandling: We missed Osama bin Laden. …
Garry Shandling: "We missed Osama bin Laden. …" (Photo By John Anderson)


Now that Martha Stewart is spending the holidays in the pokey, we'll all soon find out how well she copes with incarceration. She'll be out in March and confined to her home for five months after that. Home confinement. I love the way that sounds. Why if I had been convicted of committing a grave misdeed, such as lying to a grand jury, and had to serve five months in the big house (albeit a suburban minimum-security big house for women, described as "quite lovely. If it weren't for all the guards, it would look sort of like a New England prep school for girls"), followed by five months of home confinement, I'd be delirious with joy. Home confinement. It positively reeks of comfort and luxury, since Martha's home is a 156-acre Bedford, N.Y., estate with every possible appointment. Can you imagine how awful it will be for her – rambling around in her gift-wrap room, her china and crystal rooms, sitting rooms, game rooms, living rooms, guest suites, etc.? And even worse – she's only allowed to leave the estate for 48 hours every week! Why she could rest up all week, go out Friday night, do it up in a big way, stay out partying until sunrise, have a long breakfast, a nap at a friend's house, and go back out Saturday and repeat the process and not have to be home until Sunday night! On the other hand, if this is Martha's punishment for her crime, let's hope Dubya's good friend Kenneth Lay gets drawn and quartered for his. Perhaps the best perspective is the one Garry Shandling took at the Emmys: "We missed Osama bin Laden, but we got Martha Stewart; don't think we're not a focused country."


I'm completely smitten with "reality" shows, but mainly because of their un-realness. I mean, please – one dopey guy, 17 allegedly gorgeous but carnivorous women, alone in a mansion on the Côte d'Azur where Romeo pares 'em down quickly by giving increasingly expensive jewelry to an increasingly dwindling cast until he chooses Miss Right. Where exactly is the reality in that scenario? Or my newest favorite where a team of "experts" (including a set of blond, busty triplets who are contractors) swoops down on some needy family, sends them on the vacation of their dreams, and while they are gone, completely rebuilds their home in seven days, refurnishes it entirely, gives them new clothes and grooming, and presents them with their new lifestyle in front of millions of viewers. It's Queen for a Day on warp speed (they always fall on their knees and thank Jesus ... they ought to be thanking the producers), and was spawned by the show where they take one dirt-poor mother and trade her with some rich dame for two weeks. I'm not sure who this benefits most: The rich dame who is reminded of exactly why she married well? Or the poor one, who is given a brief taste of the high life then mercilessly cast back into her squalid existence? I guess the producers felt bad about that part, and that's how this whole "I deserve a new home for free" business got started. But these guys will be having to give away millions of new homes before it becomes a reality. I liked the reality of Joe Millionaire, especially the second season in which the producers had to go to the outer reaches of Mongolia to find women who had never heard of the show, and wound up with a cast of guttural Amazons who could only communicate through the international language of cleavage. This is only real if you live in a James Bond movie. I rue the day Cheaters was canceled; this was real reality, having some poor guy suspecting that his girlfriend is cheating on him and the Cheaters team setting up video cameras and spies to catch the girlfriend in the act. The confrontations were always public and always on tape ... and often it turned out that the "girlfriend" was unaware of any relationship. The sheer pathos and tawdriness made the show riveting. But why not a version of The Bachelor in which the bevy of beauties is all, unbeknownst to the poor schmuck, transvestites, but he doesn't find out until he pops the ring on her finger and she pops a surprise of her own? There should certainly be some "real" moments in that scenario, no? Or, how about a show called Marry Me Before I Get Fat starring Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, and Jenna Bush? Now there's a reality!


Quoted in a recent Lloyd Grove column is Annette Bening on celebrity: "You say 'Look at me, look at me!' and then the press says, 'You want to be looked at? You want to show us your underpants? Okay, we'll look.' And then you say, 'Stop. I'm a little overwhelmed; you're talking about my relationship and my children and my shortcomings.' And they say, 'Sorry! You already made the deal! You showed us your panties!'"

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More After a Fashion
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
Fort Lonesome will not be lonely for long

Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 5, 2013

After a Fashion: The Main Event
After a Fashion: The Main Event
Your Style Avatar would look great sporting these parasols

Stephen MacMillan Moser, June 28, 2013

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle