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As a public service to our loyal readers, I spent half an hour watching Channel 20, aka the Big Brother Channel, recently. This is what I saw - honest.
Shifra, the brunette stewardess, Yossi, the old guy, and Tzabar, the hunk, are sitting on lounge chairs by the pool in the garden. Tzabar yawns. Shifra starts to sing something in Hebrew. Yossi snores and yawns. Tzabar whistles along through his teeth. Then he scratches his head. He talks about going to have breakfast and taking Ibuprofen for some foot injury. He and Shifra compare pedicures.
Tzabar leaves. Yossi complains about not being able to smoke. Shifra sings more and yawns. Shifra examines her foot. Yossi whistles along with Shifra's off-key singing. Yossi does exercises with his leg while still seated.
They try to tell what time it is by what seems like the recess bells going off at a nearby school. She yawns. She sings, picks at her nails. Yossi's asleep. He snorts. She mumbles something in Spanish.
They discuss whether she sees better with contacts or glasses. They test each other on whether or not they can see seven screws in a wall in the building. They can. She yawns. He snorts. She frets about the burn scar on her leg; he shows her his scar.
Yossi complains about not being able to get to sleep early because of all the noise. Thankfully, Shifra is called to the Big Brother room.
That's it. Half an hour of my life has gone by, and I can't believe I have wasted it with this program, in which 16 strangers are brought together in a house where their every move is followed. In a country where everyone needs to know everything about everybody - who's sleeping with who, how much do you make, where did you get that sofa - it's no wonder a program that raises voyeurism to new levels of absurdity is naturally a hit.
According to Keshet and HOT - the latter of which has given us this Big Brother Channel instead of providing a channel worth watching, like the Sci-Fi channel - the Big Brother Channel is now the third most watched channel in Israel.
That boggles the brain, though when one thinks about it, perhaps it's understandable. After all, the twins (one gay), Ranin the uppity Israeli Arab, the homophobe, they're all there, ready to supply a source of entertainment whenever you click on the station. No need for a plot; no need to remember storylines. Just some talking wallpaper you can watch for a few minutes or six hours, no real investment of intelligence required.
I confess, I watched the opening program, in which the contestants arrived at the entrance to the mansion, each one's back story revealed as they drove up.
However, by contestant six or seven, it began to be repetitive, the "swerves" becoming obvious. For the homophobe Arab-hater, they found a gay twin and an Arab woman. Foil after foil. And for the older folks, Yossi, father of Einav - who needed to lie down that first night so that she wouldn't be swallowed up by her own bust - just so no one would complain it was only hunks and hunkettes a la Survivor.
It was all soâ€¦predictable, as predictable as knowing that Shifra would play with her foot a little more, or that Asher, the religious guy who left his wife in her ninth month to join the show (he must be a REAL help in the delivery room), would actually want to have breakfast in the morning. Watch him. Now. Please!
It's not too late. With the High Holy Days left, both HOT, Keshet and we ourselves can still do TV tshuva and repent for this sin of self-indulgence and boredom masquerading as a hit TV show. Citizens of Israel, you have only your standards to raise.
Now leave me alone. I think Shifra's going to yawn again.
Big Brother airs live on HOT on Channel 20 or www.keshet-tv.com/BigBrother