Can We Talk about This Later?

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

The people who run KCRW only give me four minutes to make these little jewel boxes of commentary – something about wanting to broadcast the news or I don't know what – so it's hard to fit everything in sometimes. Most of the time it's easy, of course, because everything I say pretty much boils down to: writin's hard.

But in this case, it's complicated. I want to talk about a scene I saw on a reality TV show, but like everybody else, when I talk about a reality TV show I saw, I need at least four minutes for the disclaimer alone. Four minutes to say stuff like, "I think my TiVo messed up and somehow I ended up recording this awful reality show" or "I was flipping through the channels, looking for the debates, and somehow I came across this show, which I watched for like, two seconds..." and stuff like that.

But there's no time for that. So I'm going to pause for two seconds, and in your head please fill in whatever disclaimer you usually use to explain why you've wasted an hour of your dwindling time on earth watch some really awful reality TV show starring some really repellent people. I'm going to tell you what I watched and then pause and then you fill in the excuse and then I'm going to move on. Okay? Here goes.

The other day I saw an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City.

Thank you.

And one of the housewives isn't really a housewife: she's a single career gal l– I think her tag-line in the credits is something like, "New York City is my playground" -– and she's in a relationship with a guy whom she describes as shy and reserved, but when he appears on camera, he doesn't seem shy or reserved, he just seems like a guy who doesn't really want to appear on camera in a reality TV show. He keeps avoiding the lens, he keeps ducking behind stuff, he seems painfully aware that there are several cameras whirring around him, a boom mike pointed at his face, and that everything he says, does, or mumbles is going to be blasted on television for millions of people to watch and then lie about.

In other words, he seems perfectly well-adjusted, which when edited properly comes across as sullen and uncommunicative.

So in the episode of the The Real Housewives of New York City that I saw -– I don't know, I think my TiVo messed up or something –- the non-housewife sits her shy boyfriend down for a serious talk, which she's prepared herself for – unbeknownst to him but beknownst to the viewer -– by drinking seven martinis. "Don't you think it's time we moved in together?" she asks. "Can we talk about where this relationship is going?" she asks.

And his eyes dart around to the cameras and the microphones and he says the only smart thing I've ever heard anyone on a reality TV show ever say.

He says, "Can we talk about this later?"

"You don't want to talk about this now?" she says.

"Can we talk about this later?" he repeats.

And I think, after that, they break up or something -– I'm not really sure because of course I never watch that kind of trash, but I loved that phrase. Let me say it again:

"Can we talk about this later?"

Meaning, when the cameras aren't on. Meaning, when every word and gesture isn't getting recorded and saved, for some editor to clip and some music supervisor to score and some promo guy to cut and use seventeen times. And if everyone –- or at least person -– on every reality show on TV –- or at least on some reality shows on TV -– said those words -– "Can we talk about this later?" –- then reality television might not be so lurid and exhibitionist and creepy. In other words, so interesting. And if that happens, then maybe scripted television will make a comeback.

And that's all for this week. Next week, things change. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long