How low can they go?

Channel 10's repulsive "They Deserve It Too" begs the question - do we?

gam lahem 88 (photo credit: )
gam lahem 88
(photo credit: )
Quick - what do pedophiles, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Tourette Syndrome, wounded soldiers and retarded people all have in common? Answer: They've all been grist for the mill in what passes as satire on Channel 10's repulsive Gam Lahem Magiya, (They Deserve It Too). We feel like we deserve a medal for watching some of the awful programs that come to us in the course of this job, but this particular effort at humor is in such bad taste that it outstrips anything we've seen so far. What's even more surprising, and equally upsetting, is that two of the biggest names in Israeli entertainment have lent themselves to this project: Gidi Gov, formerly of Kaveret and who has done many commendable and wonderful programs, and Yehoram Gaon, who also successfully crossed over from a singing to a TV career. It's difficult for me to believe the two needed the money so badly that they agreed to do what they do here, but hey - we haven't seen their bank balances, and Channel 10 probably threw a lot of money their way. The essential premise of the program, hosted by Lior Ashkenazi (Matai Nitnashek, Walk on Water, Shabbatot V'Hagim), is an interview show featuring reporters in various fields whom Ashkenazi admits in the first program are "a little different" but who "also deserve a chance." Well, they're different all right! There's culture reporter Yossi, who comes across as an effeminate, emotionally challenged youth and whose first line is: "I have to pee." There's Gaon as political reporter Itzik Banai - which sets up a stupid running joke in which Ashkenazi asks him how another of the singing Banai family is, only to find that his reporter has no clue what he's talking about - and whose commentaries on Ehud Barak or Bibi Netanyahu are interrupted by attacks of Tourette's, which have him flailing his arms and muttering ben zona. Rightly, a number of those actually suffering from the disease are howling for the scalps of those responsible for the program. And then there are the show's "sponsors" - Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a US couple interviewed by what passes as a video hook-up, who first tell us they made their money producing cancer-causing asbestos (cue laugh track, cuz cancer is apparently a riot) and the following week as arms dealers to the world. Ha ha - make fun of the Rosenberg case. Hysterical. Perhaps most appalling was Gov, first appearing as security correspondent Oz Regev, wrapped totally in bandages and who started to stain them with blood at one point after describing all his wounds. Boy, that must have gone down big with any wounded soldiers out there. The next week, Gov went even one step further into the bordello of bad taste, playing a Dr. Seuss, whose license had been suspended due to pedophilia charges but was now advising youngsters on how to avoid such low-lives on the Web. To disgust us even further, he was sitting next to an actress playing a kindergarten school child turned crime reporter, whom he kept feeding Bamba until it was her turn to tell Ashkenazi how she got her scoop interview with a major bad guy: by letting him have sex with her. To add to the high cultural level of the program, Gov also offered advice in rhymes, all of which ended or almost ended in objectionable words aimed at titillating anyone still left watching this crap. There's a running gag about a Crusader character who feels discriminated against, and regular appearances by Vika of Survivor - a plug so shameless for the Channel 10 program that precedes Ashkenazi's show as to be almost harmless in comparison to the depths the producers of this program have sunk. We called Channel 10 to see if it was just us who were so sensitive to the tastelessness of They Deserve It Too, but the rather nonplussed spokeswoman simply referred us to Google, where not only Tourette's sufferers but others were wondering just what's funny here. The sudden flooding of the airwaves with satires and short sketch comedies isn't a bad thing - Lord knows we can use more laughter in these troubled times. And true, not everyone laughs at the same jokes, with younger audiences, especially guys, often finding humor in things others wouldn't find amusing. That said, sinking to the lowest of the low to try to elicit guffaws and ratings is reprehensible, and when the targets are those with serious physical and/or mental challenges, it's unforgivable. If Channel 10 is so desperate to promote Survivor, just run a slide of the series logo for half an hour. It would certainly be preferable to subjecting audiences to They Deserve It Too, which doesn't deserve a minute of anyone's time.