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Monday, April 11, 2011

Yo, Robot

Last night, as I was still trying to avoid doing my taxes (yes, I did finally do them, but only God and presumably the IRS know if I did them correctly) I was flipping through my television's cable listing to see what happened to be on t.v. and came across "Yo, Robot," which to me sounded like the best thing ever. Somehow the title "Yo, Robot" instantly conjured images of a cross between Mr. Wizard, Fat Albert, Robocop, Turner & Hooch, and just a dash of Futurama. All set to click on that channel, it took me a second to realize that it was a Spanish language channel, and that the programming being offered was actually the movie "I, Robot" in Spanish. Which I know without having seen it is nowhere near as good as what "Yo, Robot" would have been.

I ended up, as I have since the day I ended up watching a marathon of last season, watching "Sister Wives," the show about a polygamous family and the trials and travails of living in what most nuclear families would consider to be village style, but without the flair of the village people (though they do seem to do more baking than the construction worker did during his stints in the Navy and at the YMCA). There is something ridiculously compelling about the show considering NOTHING happens in the show. Really. Seriously. Nothing. Happens.

One wife, her children, and the multi-husband took a road trip to Vegas. Now, mind you, aside from the polygamy thing and its strangeness to most of America, these folks do the cleanest living you can get your hands on without directly burning your skin with bleach. They say "flippin'," and not just because they're on television. It's the word that is used. So the wife proclaiming her love of Vegas ("I love love love Vegas!") seems a bit odd and begs the question, why? Begs the question enough that you end up watching a half hour of far too many people under one roof for most people's comfort until you learn they're staying at a Christiany retreat hotel 30 miles outside of Vegas. Mkay. And yet every time I watch and say "Man, why am I watching this show?" I end up watching again. It's almost the reverse curiosity of the Real Housewives franchise in which you can't turn away because you can't believe people that terrible and vapid exist and don't realize they're like that- with the Sister Wives, you can't believe people that wholesome and clean-fun-loving exist and seem to inhabit a world that is mostly free of cynicism. I don't know. I could go on. And suggest the Real House Sisterwives of some County become a reality, but I'm sure Bravo is already looking into it if there's a way to make it happen. And a way to make it sexy.

And after the Sister Wives, what new discovery was TLC leading me to learn about with tender love and care? "Extreme Couponing." An incredible program. Incredible. Inspired by the go-to win formula of their other shows that examine obsessive or addictive behavior ("Intervention," "Hoarders," "Pet Hoarders,"), this program follows families and individuals who pursue couponing as a lifestyle. The use of coupons in the episode I saw controlled the ebb and flow of their free time, their education, their recreation, and the physical layout of their home. One of the children (the mom kept referring to her kids as "her litter") slept on a bed that was elevated off of the ground to make room for the bulk toilet paper they'd purchased previously with coupons. Amazing. They'd built an elaborate system for cans that rolled the oldest cans to the front so that none ever expired and they used them in the order in which they'd acquired them. Again, amazing. The detail. The shots of "the litter" gathered round a table, scrutinizing weekly grocery store ads. The sheer mania with which the savings WERE going to be had.

My family loves saving, and frequently we call each other when good deals are gotten, but this makes us look like spendthrift a-holes! These people went to a grocery store, wracked up 2 separate $500 totals. Why two totals? Because they'd verified the store's coupon doubling/tripling policy and discovered there had been a change, which led them to each check out separately to maximize savings. (Seriously. Do not try to beat these folks to savings. They are way ahead of you). The woman's $500 total shrunk to like, not even $5. 98% savings. Seriously. Her husband's $500 total shrunk to not even $40. Seriously.

Yes, they left with cart after cart of hot dogs, cream cheese, and Special K, but they also left the customers around them (and me) with jaws hanging open. Now, do they ever eat a fresh veggie? I don't know. The show does not delve into actually nutritional practices. Just savings. And MAN. Did they save.

Remarkably, you'd think the family of 21 over at the Sister Wives house might be extreme couponing too. And now, of course, I have to suggest a battle of super couponers, which would be like reverse Supermarket Sweep, a show that rewarded expensive purchases at the store. This belt tightening could lead to a heavyweight belt of savings!

Again. If anyone would like to pay me to pitch ridiculous show concepts all day, I'm available.

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