True TV | Reality Mall: The decline of TV civilization can be found down by the food court 

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The decline of civilization can be traced to two causes: Reality television and teenagers. Like a nasty reality fashion show, with each new season, they cause series after series to be replaced with more outrageous and skanky offerings.

According to my records, the source of the devolution of good TV resides within the Basic Cable Mansion and is gaining momentum with crap-bags like Laguna Beach and Rock of Love. All the bases are covered: Amanda AmericanIdol, Chelsea CrimeDrama, and Gert GameShow. After choosing a lineup (which I’m determined the networks choose by taking turns drawing out of a hat), the reality mall is built. Let the shopping/human-brain drain begin!

The owners of all the good stores went on strike, shutting down the TV mall for a while. Well, more like they slowed down the Hummer to throw the scripted shows out the door and let the teens drive off without a license. Scripted TV was left out in the parking lot saying, “What do we do now?” To which I often replied, “Try reading a book” (“… book?”).

The mall was deader than a celebutante’s soul, but finally, the strike ended. And, while we still may be suffering some aftereffects (our shows not returning when we want them; some shows returning even though we don’t want them), the writers have returned with blowout sales, which gives me hope that, one day, reality teens will be destroyed, and teens may once again become actual people.

There are plenty of good sales out there to prove it. CBS’ How I Met Your Mother continues to impress, like that new place in the food court. It’s the only four-camera series to stay funny throughout the seasons without relying on just sex sex sex to keep the laughter (cough-Christine-and-Sheen-cough). Britney Spears is even appearing on the upcoming March 24 episode, doing her requisite mall tour.

CBS also has Dexter, a Showtime original which makes more sense on Showtime. The TV adaptation reads like its book predecessor (“… book?”) on the screen, but not in the Lifetime learn-a-lesson adaptation way. Dexter, the spilled Orange Julius on Chelsea’s jeans: stickin’ it to the CSIs.

ABC has my two favorite nerd stores at this mall, Lost and Pushing Daisies. I know Lost requires a lot of attention, online and off, but that’s why Lost is the warrior of the crazy sorts (that and Heroes). A show that requires other modes of viewing (check out the Lost “mobisodes” on ABC.com) and a kick-ass story line? I live for shit like that.

Pushing Daisies, also like a book, tells its story in fairytale fashion, maintaining a complicated story line but keeping it interesting with deadpan characters who are incredibly witty and fast-tongued. It’s a show that might not win over viewers immediately, but it’ll catch on like girl pants on boys: Awkward, but still a big fad.

The Office and 30 Rock are holding down the fort strongly on NBC, like the ol’ reliable mall cops. I’m not worried about them; they’re the reigning comedy kings. It’s Fox I worry about. Fox is devolving the most, relying on three-freaking-nights of American Idol and Gert’s game shows. Consider it the popular girl who spends without care (both money and the word “like”). Wise move, Amanda.

Then there are the two indie kids who hang out by the fountain, Flight of the Conchords and Reaper. Both incredibly smart and funny, yet misunderstood. FOTC has the two foreign exchange students trying to score with the hot girl at the coffee shop, wooing her with their offbeat and awkwardly awesome music on HBO. Reaper always surprises with hilarious dialogue and characters but keeps it in the dark-humor realm. The indie Reaper kid is kickin’ with the devil on The CW.

If enough of these shows set up shop in the reality mall that TV has become, things might fall back into the natural order, run by the old mall joggers and Pretzelmakers the way nature intended. Damned kids.

Rebecca Frost is a teenager attending Westminster College who also happens to be the spawn of True TV columnist Bill Frost, who is in rehab this week. At least that’s what he told us.

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