Hump, Marry, Kill: Seeing Red With Kelly Clarkson

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HMK_01Photo: Courtesy of Justin Lubin/NBC; Jerry Jackson/Courtesy of HBO; Courtesy of TVGN.
Hump: I feel like I’ve really become a true patriot in the past two weeks. Why? I watched not one, but two NBC holiday specials starring American Idol contestants. No, not Celebrate Thanksgivukkah With Justin Guarini (must’ve forgotten to DVR for that one)...I’m talking about The Sound of Music Live! (!) and Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale. If I weren’t already an American citizen, I’m pretty sure my vast knowledge of the aforementioned seasonal presentations would immediately qualify me for a green card — or at least, a Christmas card.

Dear Lauren,
Happy non-denominational end-of-December days off!
XOXO,
Uncle Sam
P.S. Why not give someone the gift of health insurance this year?

As I mentioned last week, The Sound of Music was pretty meh, but Kelly Clarkson’s special was worth it just for the endless parade of sumptuous red dresses. Never in my life have I wanted to wear crimson, but if any of Clarkson's gowns from Wednesday night were to somehow find their way into my closet, I wouldn’t complain. Also: Kelly Clarkson is fun to watch, especially when paired with Blake Shelton. And that, dear readers, is the most American thing I’ve ever said. USA! USA!

Marry: HBO’s new documentary, Six by Sondheim, just reinforces what a national treasure the gifted lyricist and composer is. He’s equally as delightful when ruminating about the importance of art and instilling a love of it in our children. It made me want to go out, make a child, and take said child to museums, symphonies, plays, musicals, interpretive dances, ballets, hoedowns, slam poetry nights, book readings, improv shows, drum circles, knitting bees, underground breakdance battles, and ice skating through rainbows (for that last one, we may need to somehow live inside a Lisa Frank drawing). Everything’s coming up Sondheim.

Kill: There’s nothing like the beginning of a reality show. The concept and characters are just so pregnant with promise (and sometimes actually pregnant, but R.I.P. Teen Mom 3). Sometimes, the producers like to introduce the cast in a very taciturn, removed fashion: These are the people you’ll be watching. Don’t they seem normal? They seem pretty normal.

Then, they rip the rug out from under you. Just when you were wondering why these people in particular earned their own TV show, enter alcohol, an element of competition, a crazy ex…basically, the reality show deus ex machina that’s going to mix sh*t up and make, say, those seven strangers chosen to live in one house start to get real.

This week’s case study: Tequila Sisters, a new reality show on the TV Guide Network. (Sidenote: Why is it still called the TV Guide Network? When was the last time it actually showed a timetable of what’s on other channels?) The premise is pretty simple: Bill, who’s an importer/exporter of tequila, immigrated to California from Mexico with his wife and four pretty, blonde daughters. The parents are trying to hold onto traditional Mexican family values: They don’t think the girls should be allowed to live anywhere besides under their parents’ roof until they’re married. But, we’re talking about four gorgeous girls in their twenties who live in Laguna Beach — they find their father’s edict stifling.

You’re actually sort of on the father’s side for the first ten minutes of viewing. He tears up when he explains his side; his father abandoned him and his mother when he was three, and he cannot fathom how someone could do that to his family. Then comes the rug-pulling moment when the reason why this family has a show becomes clear: The eldest daughter demands that her boyfriend throw her a lavish birthday party (since he’s not getting her a “giant rock”), and that her sisters be at her beck-and-call all night (so they can’t invite their significant others).

At the party, everyone in the family gets drunk (they are in the tequila business, after all), but the dad most of all. Too drunk. It’s problem drunk. Tensions mount, and the sisters’ petty jealousies and personality differences are exacerbated. The seemingly close-knit, bordering-on-boring family we met at the beginning of the episode have become tequila-fueled monsters. And, in this moment, you remember the reason some people get reality TV shows: They’re secretly incorrigible.