Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TV premiering tonight: Men in Trees

Even the normally sedate and bland Amy Amatangelo is offended by this odious new show, one of two new ABC dramedies dripping with condescending sexism. This is actually the collision of several trite, insulting concepts, combining the "irony" of the relationships expert whose personal life is a mess with the big city go-getter who ends up "trapped" in a small town. Thus main character Marin Frist, played rather effectively given the atrocious material by Anne Heche, is stuck learning lessons about how to let go of her pre-conceived notions about love and about how to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. None of the supposedly sage advice offered to Marin (a best-selling self-help author) is any less trite or useless than the supposedly wrong-headed advice she's been foolishly peddling herself, and all it amounts to is a collection of gender stereotypes foisted off as wisdom.

Never mind the painful contrivances that force Marin to end up stuck in the tiny Alaska town in the first place, or the introduction of TV's absolute worst, most overused device, the mismatched, "will they or won't they?" couple. It's to Heche's credit that she somehow makes her character almost likeable despite all of her stupid decisions (which include spontaneously moving to a tiny town full of annoyingly cheerful and "wise" folks). This show manages to insult women who want to be independent, men who aren't out working the land, people who actually like big cities, and small-town dwellers who don't live stuck in the past all in the course of its first episode, while simultaneously failing to be funny and employing nearly every cliche in the book. That's got to be some kind of record. ABC, sneak preview tonight, 10 p.m.; airs regularly Fridays, 9 p.m.

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