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FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

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It started with a little experimentation in college. Nothing major, really, my roommates would be sitting around our living room and from time to time I would join them. But too soon it began to take its toil. I got caught in an ugly web. I’m talking, or course, about the WB. I know, I’ve mentioned it in this column before, but that was back when I was a recreational user. Now, I’ve moved onto the big time -- setting the VCR every night, scouting web sites for teasers every day. I think it’s sucking my life away. The whole thing began with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. A couple of my college roommates really liked it and, in an effort to avoid any semblance of work, I began watching, too. It quickly became a ritual. Tuesday nights the roommates gathered around, friends came over, we all bonded. But I confess: I’m a TV junkie. And while all my friends could keep their habits under control, I couldn’t. Seeing promos for other shows made me want to find out if Felicity would ever get together with Ben, if Jill would dump his new girlfriend for Jack, if the aliens on “Roswell” were on the verge of being discovered. I became obsessed. Because, let’s be honest, the WB has discovered a niche. Sure, I’m a member of their target audience (female 18-24) so I’m biased, but they’ve also found a few key formulas that, if ratings are anything, seem to be working out for them. First off, the supernatural crime fighter (“Buffy,” “Angel,” “Charmed,” “Sabrina”). Then, there’s the continual love triangle between soul mates and could-be soul mates (think Pacey, Joey, and Dawson, or Felicity, Ben, and Noel). As well as the combination of the two (“Roswell”). Throw in some family values programming (7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls), as well as Steve Harvey and Jamie Foxx, and you’ve got yourself a network. Oh, and did I mention that on the WB everyone is really attractive. Okay, well, on the WB everyone is really attractive. They might not always be able to act, but that doesn’t matter if you’re Scott Speedman. Not that he can’t act, but you get the point. Hot. Watching the WB made me want to watch more Ñ I felt like I loved everybody. But then the credits would roll, and I wasn’t as pretty as those WB people. I don’t have super powers or a could-be soul mate. The highs just got higher, the lows just got lower. Of course then I moved to Memphis. At first it was really hard. I knew that Channel 24 played WB shows during their late night programming, but I could never remember to set my VCR. The fevers, the chills, the sweating, it all got to me. And then I got through it. Slowly I forgot that Felicity and Ben ever existed (in that way that Felicity and Ben “exist”). I spent evenings contributing to society. I was rehabilitated. Then I heard from friends of mine, as well as a television critic at Salon.com, that the writing and acting on Buffy was surpassing all the other shows on television. I thought it would be okay, I’d just watch and that’d be it. I remembered to set the VCR. Suddenly I was sucked back in. I decided that if I was going to tape Buffy I might as well tape Angel, the spin-off that comes on after it. I mean, the VCR’s already set up. And then I’d sneak glances at the tape the next night and see previews for Dawson’s Creek. Dawson’s going to lose his virginity with Pacey’s sister? And Joey wants him back? I better tape that, too. And Charmed, yeah, okay. Now season finales are looming on the horizon and cliffhangers are in sight. And me, I’m firmly back on the junk, just wondering about my next fix. ( Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.)

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