We watch... so you don't have to.

Change of Stomach

Here at TeeVee, we enjoy watching gut-wrenching public humiliation as much as the next guy -- probably more -- but every once in a while we stumble across something that's too much for even us to bear. Bob Dole's Viagra spokesmanship, say, or Suddenly Susan.

Or, worse yet, Change of Heart.

Elevating messy break-ups from dinner theatre for eavesdroppers to syndicated television, Change of Heart invites couples to publicly vivisect their relationship for the amusement of the sort of people who find Jerry Springer too civil.

It's official: nothing is too private to do without the presence of TV cameras.

Change of Heart is a Christians-and-lions spectacle, the final signpost on the long, slow road to Hell. It takes the most profoundly painful and humiliating experience a person can go through and serves it up as half-an-hour of yuks for the same sort of couch-bound feebs who slow down to gawk at sheet-covered bodies on the side of the road. And it hits -- sob -- just a little too close to home.

At the start of each show, a couple is introduced and the host -- still trying to grow out his goatee, it looks like, or decide on a consistent hair color -- kicks off the fun with the sort of question that normally gets you forcibly removed from proper company, and probably pummeled to boot: "So! What don't you like about each other?"

Always a great topic! A chance for meaningful dialogue, a time for sharing philosophies, an opportunity to bring up severe personal hygiene problems in front of a whole lot of people. Actual Change of Heart exchange: "Plus, he farts." "You fart!"

It goes downhill from there.

Once the atmosphere has been good and poisoned, and the couple is seething at each other, another man and woman are introduced. These people are the blind dates. The blind dates that each member of the couple went out with the previous night.

Is it just me, or is having your last date meet your significant other in front of an audience a bad idea?

More interviews are had, more compliments are paid to complete strangers, more bitterness is exchanged between people who theoretically love each other. Like, y'know, Thanksgiving.

"Honey, you have a gas problem. And here's the woman I went out with last night. At first blush, she appears to lack many of the traits I dislike in you. Plus, she's at least one cup size larger. You people at home getting all this?"

At the end of the show -- instead of the knifing death you're expecting -- the couple is required to hold up signs with their choice for the relationship: "Stay Together" or "Change of Heart." "You Come Near Me Again And I'm Calling The Police" was apparently too long to fit on the card.

At this point, one of three things can happen. In increasing order of awfulness:

Both people can decide to split up. This likely results in a lot of bitching about whose CDs are whose, but in general the nation can collectively breathe a sigh of relief that it will never have to sit next to this couple in the movies ever again. The only better option involves sudden, unexpected euthanasia.

Both can decide to stay together. Frankly, it's astonishing how many couples, after savaging each other on national TV, decide to continue their relationship outside of courtroom or a grudge-match arena. The expression of their love apparently includes profundly humiliating each other in public. Woe for the psychological health of their children, should the genealogy check allow them to marry: "Hi, class. I'm Timmy's dad. Boy, does he wet the bed!"

And finally, of course, one person can decide to end the relationship while the other is left holding a pathetic "Stay Together" sign, as his ego puddles at his feet. It's simply awful to watch. Since each person makes his or her choice before either is revealed, there's no turning back, no changed-minds, no you're-not-breaking-up-with-me-I'm-breaking-up-with-you. It's documented, on video, with witnesses.

Which, again, hits just a little too close to home.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *