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Count your blessings, but not on TV - Clay Wilson

There are many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Specifically, I have many things for which to be thankful.

However, I didn't want to start out this column with "I," because some experts say one shouldn't do that. They say it immediately turns the reader off, as it makes the writer seem arrogant and self-obsessed.

So now that I've suckered readers in by not starting this column with I, I hope they'll indulge me as I tell them some of the things for which I am thankful.

I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful that I live in America. Even though things are by no means perfect here, most of us are so much more materially well off than people in other parts of the world.

I'm thankful that I have a job, in fact one that (most of the time) I enjoy. I'm thankful that, even though I don't have enough money to just buy whatever I want, I've never lacked for the necessities.

And I'm thankful that I've never appeared on a daytime television talk or reality show.

This blessing was brought home to me in the past couple of weeks. It all centered around my trip to L.A. (see last week's column, unless it is already lining the bottom of a bird cage).

Even though I didn't fly out until the evening, I took the entire day of my departure off. This gave me the dubious privilege of seeing some snippets of late morning television.

One in particular that I remembered was from a show called "Starting Over." From what I gathered, it is about a group of everyday women who live together in a house and, apparently, attempt to make over their lives.

I don't know what they're "starting over" from. Perhaps a failed attempt to make it onto a more glamorous daytime show, like a soap opera.

Whatever the case, this particular group of women had the usual suspects for such a reality show: the wild, outgoing party girl; the shy, reserved goody two-shoes; the overweight, under-loved middle-ager.

The show focused on the women's feelings and their interaction with one another. It was filled with confessional monologues and melodramatic, touchy-feely moments.

The most memorable scene was one in which, in an attempt to make themselves "feel sexy," the women had an apparently somewhat gender-confused man teach them how to do "erotic" dances with canes and feather boas.

Maybe it was just too early in the morning, but I found this scene to be not erotic but emetic – as in syrup of ipecac. I suppose it's fine if average Janes want to writhe and gyrate with a cane and feather boa, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for national TV.

On TV, that sort of thing should be left to professionals, like Britney Spears.

Later in the week, at the hotel, my father watched "Jerry Springer" on TV.

Here we saw women who looked very similar to the ones on "Starting Over," except with more tattoos and fewer teeth. They were fighting over charges that their cousins had been unfaithful to them by sleeping with their ex-wives' lovers.

The men were fat slobs (excuse me – calorically gifted, motivationally-challenged gentlemen) who couldn't understand why it isn't OK to alternate girlfriends with the days of the week.

It made me very glad that I had just taped an episode of a nationally televised game show, rather than a nationally televised freak show.

So at this Thanksgiving season, may we all pause and reflect on the things we hold dear. Things like modesty, dignity, a sense of propriety and a modicum of privacy.

And myself, I'm going to put off "Starting Over" until at least the New Year.

Clay Wilson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at cwilson@henryherald.com.