OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) is a lot like crème fraiche.  When enjoyed in small quantities, the light and cheery lactic swirl of self-help porn and dolled up “you-go-girl” wisdom feels a tad more cultured than the gossipy diarrhea of the Housewives of both the ‘Real’ and ‘Desperate’ variety.  But when the initial novelty wears thin, what remains is a glob of ritzy butterfat.

Since Oprah news ranks as low on most dudes’ radars as the day-to-day operations of the defending NBA D-league champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers, here’s the scoop: while the final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show won’t air until the fall, rabid fans count down to the final curtain has been eclipsed by O’s new 24/7 endeavour. After 25 years of daytime domination, Oprah’s talk show has metastasized into an entire television network so I couldn’t resist giving it a proper whirl.

Splayed out on a barcalounger with a bowl of bonbons on the snack-caddy and a case of Corona Light, I prepare to be spoon-fed Oprah’s inspirational Metamucil.  According to one of the network’s come-ons, this is the only channel out there that can jumpstart my health, wealth and happiness.  So let’s get this three-ring circus started.

I take the OWN plunge with Ask Oprah’s All-Stars featuring heavy hitters Suze Orman, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Oz reprising their familiar roles as almighty arbiters of modern-day living.  This Justice League of American Television Therapy dispenses the goods on everything from s-shaped poop to debt doldrums and weight loss woes.   

While there was a sensational segment with a 52-year-old virgin, the most memorable bit was when they tagged teamed an obese family.  To start off a 1-2-3 combo to the beer belly, Oz reveals (it’s news to them) that they’re all either diabetic or prediabetic, and that the patriarch literally has cream in his bloodstream.  Then Phil softens them up a bit telling them they can change their lifestyle by setting realistic goals. Finally, Orman delivers the TKO letting them know that on average obese people take in $3.41 less per hour than non-obese folks.

Lesson learned: “Most of us pass gas at least once every hour to once every hour and a half.” -Dr. Oz

Sticking with the household-names-first theme in my network immersion, it’s time to snuggle up to Dr. Laura Berman’s In the Bedroom, a sexual intervention show. A sensitive guy is having trouble getting his boot camp teaching wife to orgasm. She resorts to rubbing up against the corner of a laundry basket to get her jollies.  After Laura puts the couple through some intimacy and control exercises, a medical issue is discovered which is hampering the wife’s pleasure centre.   Thankfully it can be overcome.  Saving the day is the C.A.T. (coital alignment technique), a missionary variant where the grinding action of hubby’s pubic bone against wifey’s clitoris amiably subs for the laundry basket’s plastic tumescence.  It ends predictably with heartfelt embraces with Laura for reawakening their sex life and then the guy gleefully backs his car over his inanimate former rival.  

Lesson learned:  I got a new song for Aerosmith that’s a surefire hit,  “Love and a Laundry Basket.”

After getting schooled by the powerhouses, it was time to delve into the lower echelon of O’s crew where Inspektah Deck and U-God, the I’m-also-part-of-the-band personalities hang.  Enough Already! With Peter Walsh is firmly in this lower hanging fruit camp. According to this Aussie organizational guru and author of a shelf’s worth of books including Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?, 200 million Americans homes are crammed with junk.  The dubious accuracy of the statement notwithstanding, watching a homeowner struggle to part with assorted crap they’ve collected over the years while horror muzak attempts to sell the drama is about as entertaining as watching a garbage truck unload its haul at a landfill.  While the big reveal of the de-cluttered rooms at the end elicits  “ooh” and “aah,” sighs from the reformed hoarder, I’m thrilled that the credits are about to roll.

Lesson Learned: Collecting a crap load of crap can be just as unsettling as Two girls, One cup.  

Next up is a W network Canada transplant, Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag, featuring perky and quirky Vancouver gal pals who road test cookbooks and kitchen products.  The premise of attempting to recreate recipes to the tee and then have a chef rate their results is pretty fresh and the product tests almost have a Top Gear vibe to them.  On the first episode I catch, they enlist a welder to help test the heat distribution of saucepans using a thermal camera.  Then to test their durability he shoots them out of an air canon.  On a subsequent episode they get a bunch of construction workers to demo onion slicers. 

 Lesson Learned: Live prawns are edible.

Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love is a more homey cooking show that sizzles along at a more leisurely pace then your typical pots & pans clanker. Iron Chef’s lone XX chromosome carrier, Cat Cora, is the special guest when I tune in and they’re baking thinly sliced potatoes arranged to resemble plates. These are topped with smoked salmon and lo and behold, crème fraiche.  Next on the docket is salmon loaf, a kissing cousin of the meat and breadcrumbs correctional institute staple. 

Lesson Learned:  The Salmonloaf recipe was easy to follow so I earned some brownie points with the wife by whipping it up for dinner myself—guess the crème fraiche of TV networks has its redeeming qualities.

Some of OWN’s most “raw and intimate” life rehabbing series will be debuting later in the year. In the spring, Sarah Ferguson and Shania Twain’s weighty emotional laundry will be aired with Finding Sarah and Why Not?  And in another attempt at televised catharsis, Ryan & Tatum O’Neal, the formerly estranged father-daughter will attempt reconciliation.  Meanwhile, Lisa Ling, the former View couch potato whose ‘lil sis Laura was held captive in North Korea, will also check in with Our America.  This looks to be the least fluffy series on the earnest network.  Ling promises no-holds-barred reporting on faith healers, heroin addicts, and online brides. 

1 Comments | Add a Comment
LOVE the concept of OWN, and am tickled by the male perspective! We all need more fluff from time to time!
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