Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" Was the Best Reality TV Show Ever Made. Then Came "Gigolos."

And they both share(d) one thing in common: A preposterous premise that leaves the women who make up their core audience incredulous.

My brief but intense love affair with reality TV peaked before I started O.H.M., but with Gigolos now in its sixth season and free reign over the cable box in my family's absence this week, I'm starting to feel the pull of the Showtime series once more.

Used to be, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant was the gold standard for train-wreck, rubber-necking, how-the-fuck-can-this-be-happening reality TV. This four-season, 56 episode show on TLC required a superhuman suspension of disbelief, particularly for viewers who had themselves been pregnant but knew it.

Specifically, I found it extremely hard if not impossible to believe that a person could make it nine whole months with a healthy, full-term baby growing inside her uterus only to feel a pain in her stomach one day and shit that baby out on a toilet the next. 

And yet incredibly, TLC producers found 168 women to whom this had allegedly happened. Yeah yeah, I know everyone's different and blah blah blah. Let's put that aside though long enough to admit that it is FUCKING CRAY not to realize you are pregnant for nine months. If it weren't, it wouldn't be a TV show in the first place.

I get how at the beginning, you might think you have the flu or an irregular menstrual cycle. Where I part ways with this show is at week 39, when there is a seven-pound human rolling around in your body like Sigourney Weaver in Alien, punching and kicking the ever-loving shit out of your ribs with all four limbs, and a head sitting like a bowling ball in your crotch all day and night as you leak urine into your underpants. 

That's where "maybe it's something I ate" starts to ring hollow.

I was sad when this shit show got cancelled, but fortunately its cancellation coincided with the premiere of Gigolos on Showtime. 

This show features a main cast of half a dozen or so straight, male gigolos living and working in Las Vegas. Theoretically, there is something for everyone here. Much like the famed buffets of its native city, Gigolos offers up a veritable smorgasbord of purportedly heterosexual male prostitutes: a long-haired, hippie Latin lover with whom you could easily imagine doing peyote in the desert; a blonde surfer-type; a biracial software engineer; a tattooed, motorcycle-riding ex-Marine; and a handful of others.

The psychological profile of someone who is able to (a) be a gigolo and/or (b) hire one is alien to me, and frankly I question the veracity of what is happening on this show. In other words, I think most of it is staged bullshit, even more so than most reality TV. But real or not, it is FASCINATING. There is only one gigolo (the bald one, second from right) whose personality as portrayed on the show even begins to approach anything I could tolerate for more than five minutes without copious amounts of alcohol, much less allow anywhere near my nether-parts for any amount of money.

And yet the women who hire these gigolos--of all heights, weights, and abilities--seem perfectly happy to be filmed paying a set of tanned, washboard abs to fuck their brains out on a granite kitchen counter top doggie style before a national audience. 

To be fair, all of the gigolos work hard to be charming and solicitous to their dates. They talk about how seriously they take their jobs, how much they love women, and how their goal is to help women become happier and more self-confident. Which I guess is empowering for the women who are turning traditional sex work on its head, so to speak. 

But the thought of paying a man--ANY man--$1,000 an hour to feign interest in what I have to say while biding his time until we do the reverse cowgirl amid theatrical, porno-style moaning seems . . . how shall I put this . . . inauthentic at best? (Not to mention prohibitively expensive).

Regardless, both these shows are amazing television. Gigolos just started its sixth season this week, so assuming you're a quick study, you just might be able to catch up with the plot lines and character development if you start watching now.

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