Please restart Starting Over - VIDEO
by Eliot Glazer, posted Dec 22nd 2008 11:22AM
Rare is the episode of reality television that ends without a character seen having shed tears, made a vigilant declaration, or used pop psychological jargon lifted straight from the self-help section (see "I'm a very sexual person," "We share an energy," and "There's more to me than people might think").
For me, that phony vernacular of new age buzzwords that culminate in testimonials of poorly-worded self-expression are simultaneously the best and worst elements of a reality show. Naturally, that's what made Starting Over one of the few reality shows I could not only tolerate, but adore.
Set in a spacious house occupied by a rotating cast of a half dozen women looking to fix real-life problems with the assistance of "life coaches," Starting Over was a daily affirmation that proved profiled women as emotional train wrecks. If The Amazing Race is reality television's go-to destination for an adrenaline rush, Starting Over was its highly potent estrogen supplement. The show essentially painted "real women" to all appear as histrionic crybabies at the mercy of warm pastels, cozy blankets, and humiliating exercises designed by unlicensed psychologists.
In order to "graduate" from the Starting Over house, the women had to perform tasks designed to help them defeat their respective obstacles, such as:
- being "made over" to look physically abused
- making arts and crafts with a "healing artist"
- furiously splashing paint on a wall while crying
- dancing in the wind with bedsheets
- cleaning the bathroom at the command of a drill sergeant
- getting fenced in by cardboard bricks labeled with suppressive feelings
- meeting with a "dream expert"
- allowing strange men to paint one's body (more paint!)
- receiving an up-do
- resisting a cupcake at a mass gorging
- playing baseball
Virtually everything discussed on the show was intangible and symbolic, which wouldn't necessarily sound like the proper groundwork for a television show (or, more over, one that aired five times a week). But with vacant piano riffs, perpetual cuts to images of flowers and birdbaths, and constant sobfest pow-wows, Starting Over made for an endlessly entertaining, unbelievably insulting show that catapulted new age spirituality (or, arguably, hogwash) to brand new heights.