Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What Gives A TV Show Bipartisan Appeal?

In an attempt to feed the tiring, high-grade election fever that is sweeping the nation, Nielsen, the media research company that knows more about you than you know about yourself, recently released an analysis of cable TV viewership amongst Democrats and Republicans. Politicizing things that don't need to be politicized: it's so hot right now!

Nielsen analyzed several cable channels to determine which shows had the highest level of engagement amongst Republicans or Democrats, and also which shows engaged members of both parties equally. Not surprisingly, Republicans tend to enjoy the Blue-Collar comedy™ of The Bill Engvall Show, while Democrats watch the shit out of The Colbert Report. But some of the other results were a little surprising: generally, it seems that Democrats love watching people do dangerous, blue-collar jobs (Ax Men, Deadliest Catch), shows that take place in a bar or in close proximity to alcohol (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, My Boys), and tawdry dating shows involving people who have touched Flava Flav (I Love New York). Republicans, on the other hand, enjoy watching morally bankrupt big city lawyers (Damages), people win money by getting in a big city taxi (Cash Cab), and tawdry dating shows involving Bret Michaels (Rock Of Love).

So what gives a cable TV show bipartisan appeal? Blank stares (The Hills), characters that openly talk to God (Saving Grace, The Cleaner), and competitions where the winner gets to continue to star on cable (The Next Food Network Star, HGTV Design Star). But apparently one of the biggest things that both Republicans and Democrats look for in a cable TV show is a very high jerk judgment quotient. Three of the shows on the bipartisan list (The Hills, What Not To Wear, and The Real Housewives Of Orange County) are reality series that are essentially open invitations for the audience to judge the lives and overindulgent lifestyles of the participants. Judging spoiled, exhibitionist jerks on TV: it's what brings America together!

No one seems to understand America's favorite bipartisan pastime better than Sarah Palin, who going by her choice of handbag for her 7-year-old daughter, is a big fan of The Real Housewives series–although Palin seems to be imitating the housewives rather than judging them here.

Still, the Palin handbag could be a fake. Or the 7-year-old could simply be carrying her mom's purse. But kids carrying expensive Louis Vuitton (or even imitation expensive Louis Vuitton) handbags never fails to disgust across party lines.

Just ask Kim, the plastic-haired one on Real Housewives Of Atlanta, who gave her daughter two Louis Vuitton bags for her 11th birthday on last week's episode.

See? Judging people who very publicly spoil their kids: fun for everyone.


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