Thursday, August 18, 2011

Culture Shock 08.18.11: Of course you know this means 'war'

When they said "Storage Wars," I was expecting something
more like this.

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered "Storage Wars" wasn't a sci-fi series about warring gangs of motorcycle-riding marauders vying for control of abandoned storage buildings in a near-future, post-apocalyptic wasteland.

At the very least, a TV series named "Storage Wars" should be a situation comedy about twin sisters locked in a life-or-death struggle for use of the walk-in closet.

Instead, "Storage Wars" is a "reality" show on A&E about people who bid at auction for the contents of foreclosed storage rental units in the hope of selling the glorified grab bag of items at a profit.

Since these guys are now reality TV stars, you'll have to forgive my inability to get overly enthused about their financial solvency, especially when their job involves picking over the former belongings of people who couldn't pay their storage fees.

In any case, while I understand rival buyers are trying to snag stuff at a bargain, to call this "Storage Wars" seems like overkill.

Is this really a war? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya — now those are wars.

This isn't even a "police action."

Yet "wars" are breaking out all over my television, and that's not even counting Cartoon Network's "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which actually is about a war, albeit a fictional one and one that George Lucas killed my interest in the first time Jar Jar Binks stepped in bantha poo.

In fairness, Travel Channel's "Food Wars" does make some sense. Two restaurants face off over which one is better at making their city's signature dish. When it comes to restaurants and food, sometimes the rivalries and customer loyalties do remind you of opposing sides in an armed conflict.

But the Travel Channel canceled "Food Wars" after one season, although it still airs in reruns.

Maybe "Food Wars" was just too generic, because Food Network has found success with "Cupcake Wars," which is currently filming its third season.

I don't get America's recent fascination with cupcakes and trendy cupcake bakeries. Cupcakes are what you settle for when you can't get a real cake. So, I certainly don't get a show about teams of pastry chefs trying to make the best (and most) cupcakes.

Don't get me wrong: I've eaten a lot of cupcakes. I've just never eaten one worth fighting for.

Then there is A&E's "Parking Wars," which sounds like someone turned that episode of "Seinfeld" where George spends all day arguing over a parking space into an epic, 12-part miniseries like "War and Remembrance." But no. It's a series about traffic cops who tow vehicles, which has got to make for the least sympathetic cast of characters since "Sex and the City."

Ready to give peace a chance? Too bad, because I haven't even gotten to Animal Planet's "Whale Wars," which isn't really a war and barely even qualifies as a minor inconvenience for the Japanese whaling fleet. Fortunately, "South Park" has already said all that needs to be said here.

VH1 has something called "Wedding Wars," which seems redundant to me, and IFC airs a show called "Whisker Wars" about the world of competitive facial hair.

Seriously. Competitive facial hair. I would not have believed such contests exist, never mind are the stuff of television, if I hadn't just Googled it. There was video and everything. And there was this man with, like, tentacles growing out of his face. It was frightening.

Then again, maybe "wars" is the right word for these shows, at least in one respect: You'd have to draft me to get me to watch another minute of any of them.

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