Thursday, May 21, 2015


Of late, my days are full. I work on my “memoir” and I write other stuff. I deal with minor aches and pains. When the aches and pains drive me from my keyboard, I read or watch TV. I eat and I sleep, as little of the former as I can manage without lapsing into food withdrawal and as much of the latter as my often-guilty conscience will allow. I mean, why am I sleeping when I have all those pages to write?

When my memoir is completed, I plan to find some quiet and secluded place close enough to civilization that I can get to town in case of a supernatural serial killer outbreak but far enough away that  not even Rachel from Cardholder Services will be able to find me. I see myself sitting in a chair on a shady porch reading a modest stack of books I’ve been meaning to read.

I probably watch too much TV, but I am honestly entertained by the shows I watch. However, sometimes madness overtakes me and I watch some show which, in my right mind, I would have realized would not suit me. Thus was the case with TLC’s Retro Wives and Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage, which aired this past Sunday. When I saw the listings for these shows, I posted this:

Odd programming options. This evening, on The Learning Channel, there are two back-to-back specials: Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage and Retro Wives.

The description for the first: "Submissive wives who serve and submit to their men; Autumn and Eddie are from multi-generational submissive families; submissive wife Tara helps her friend Kristen become submissive."

The description for the second: "A group of women trades modern conveniences to become the ``perfect'' 1950s housewives."

My love for 1950s fashions notwithstanding, this is truly a WTF moment. I think what we're learning here is that The Learning Channel needs a new name.

Facebook friend Jonathan Andrew Sheen was quick to inform me that the network doesn’t use “The Learning Channel” as its name anymore. It just goes by TLC. Jim MacQuarrie, another Facebook pal, then won the Internet by posting:

TLC stands for "Too Late, Civilization.”

Altruistic fool that I am, I decided to watch these two programs so that you wouldn’t have to. It was a decision I came to regret, but not until after I’d wasted an hour and twenty minutes of my life I will never get back.

Retro Wives seems to have started out as Wives with Beehives. The name change was one of the few not-entirely-terrible things about this special which could become a series. This show was basically The Real Housewives of Pretending to Live in the 1950s. One of the women was a total bitch, another was shy and innocent. A third was something of a control freak, but at least tried to be nice to the new girl and others. The fourth was arrogant and entitled, making a joke about her maid:

“I have a dishwasher. Her name is Maria.”

I was hoping for some 50s elegance from this show. What I got was mostly 50s tacky: boisterous outfits, hairdos and makeup designed to drew attention to these women.

There were some amusing moments, such as when a somewhat flamboyant exercise instructor was merciless in poking fun at the two “retro wives” who came to one of his sessions. Still, for all the talk of these women and their happy husbands embracing a 1950s lifestyle, their existence came off as an extended cosplay routine with their shoulder-less dresses revealing garish, large and very modern tattoos.Ultimately, their shtick wasn’t believable...which is not uncommon for TLC’s so-called reality shows.

I could only stomach twenty minutes of Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage. Despite a character’s claim that it takes a strong woman to be a submissive wife, this program was faux-Christian propaganda with the aim of diminishing women. In its own American way, it was as anti-woman as the Islamic regimes that treat women as even less than second-hand citizens.

Submissive wife zealot Tara barely blinked her eyes when she was on screen. She looked brainwashed. Her friend Kristen was a lazy slob, who, laying in bed until 10:30 am, resented being expected to clean up after her husband and kids...after he got the kids up and ready for school and then drove them to school before going to his job. Her resentment seems even less sympathetic when it becomes obvious she doesn’t clean up anything. Vowing to become a submissive wife, which is her idea and not her husband’s, Kristen falls down on the job immediately. She pushes around a few mountains of laundry and then, exhausted, takes a nap.

Then we get Autumn and Eddie, both of who come from families where the wife was submissive. Autumn’s mother and father make with their “Christian” bullshit when they visit. Eddie is your basic imperious jerk. Both seem bent on brainwashing their five-year-old daughter into following their repressive lifestyle. I think I might dislike Autumn and Eddie most of all.

Twenty minutes of this crap was all I could take. I fear there is much truth in Jim MacQuarrie’s online quip:

TLC stands for "Too Late, Civilization.”

Not to worry, though, I’m sure the network is preparing a new show for 2016: Submissive Housewife Survivalists. Gun-toting housewives build ramparts and other defenses for husbands too busy preparing for Obama’s sending the Armed Forces to impose Sharia Law on their backwoods community to actually do any of the building themselves.

Don’t worry. These women can take it because they are strong enough to be submissive. They’ll build those ramparts, keep the ammo dry, cook up a fine squirrel stew and then make like bunnies with their husbands to increase their numbers.

At least actual zombies don’t have babies.

Look for more TV reviews as I make my way through the hours of fine programming waiting for me on my DVR. If I write about these shows, I can convince myself I wasn’t just goofing off when I was watching them. Denial can be your friend.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella


  1. Tony,

    Considering TLC is an acronym for "Tender Loving Care," I still think the channel the that produces "Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage" and "Retro Wives" needs a new name.

  2. Watching one of these abysmal TLC shows is the equivalent of slamming your hand in a car door; I only need to do it once to know that I never want to have the experience a second time.

  3. My wife, Donna, will sometimes watch the TLC program "19 Kids and Counting" for amusement. Both of us believe that there is something wrong with the wife who doesn't always come off as completely aware. I'm convinced the father/husband is some kind of abusive monster when the camera are off. It just seems that all of these TLC shows and most other 'reality' programs on the cable networks exist in some parallel world unconnected to ours.

    On the other hand, my step-daughter briefly worked with one of the "Real Housewives of Orange County" and we do see some of the others around town.