Last night I veered into the TV unknown by partaking in a classic case of channel surfing. Now, I’m not usually one for change– a Tuesday night without the usual chatter of the Gilmores leaves me wanting for the rest of the week. But last night, I felt brave. I threw out my well-established television schedule and landed in a tiny town called Gilroy.
Most of you have probably never heard of Gilroy – even I’m not certain exactly where it is, but the people there seemed to be just as quirky and entertaining as the fictional, often over-the-top caricatures TV writers try to stuff down our throats on prime-time. The only thing was, these people were real, which upped the freak-quotient just a bit, but any good producer knows that is the stuff of good TV.
Residing in Gilroy were various weird women: an Afro-sporting ex-hippie, a hyperactive housewife and a woman who I’m sure is the real-life incarnation of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast.
What brought these Gilroyians together? Garlic. Yup, Garlic. As in the stinky-breath, vampire-repellent sort of way. Turns out Gilroy, in I Don’t Where, USA has an annual garlic-cooking competition, which has quite strangely caused the entire town to become disturbingly obsessed with the stinky root vegetable. And the smell must have really did a number on them, because I was certain at one point I saw a de-bearded Santa Clause marching around the fairgrounds wearing nothing more than a pillow-like clove costume.
By now you’re all probably wondering whether garlic is my keyword for a weekly crack-attack, but dear readers, I kid you not. There is a whole new world out there beyond your usual channel destinations.
As the crazy clove man frolicked around competitors trying to prove their garlic-cooking prowess, it donned one me that I’ve never really explored the more eclectic options the TV schedule has to offer nowadays.
I often lament about an onslaught of summer reruns, and then indulge in the overdone contemporary dramas that return during the fall season. Only a channel away from my TV home was a town I never heard of, with people whose sole life dream it is to glorify the garlicky ingredients in their lives. There’s no whining about the complicated on-and-off again melodramatic relations of 26-year-old teenagers, or waiting on the overly extended plot arcs of the so-called ‘epic’ dramas…there’s just passion for the prize. Which in this case happened to be a Garlic Crown sought and fought for in the comfortable time-span of an hour.
With recent doses of reality TV venturing deep into young, wealthy and slutty country, this peculiar mix of quirk and crazy seems a poignant example of why stations like TLC and The Food Network seem to stand the test of time. There are no trends to this television. The people aren’t being filmed for the sake of their plastic beauty, or rich parents. They’re just wanting of attainable goals, leading ordinarily extraordinary lives.
It’s speaks of the power of pure spontaneity when its combined with a compelling (and sometimes strange) human premise.
How else do you explain Mrs. Potts walking away with the Garlic Crown because of a scandalous secret ingredient comprised essentially of banana mush? It’s a garlic competition for God’s sake! Think that’s not entertaining enough? I’m fairly certain I saw another contestant flash a look of disdain at Mrs. Potts after she found out she’d lost out to a banana booger mix.
I anticipate a stinky smackdown at next year’s competition.
I must remember to travel from Gilmore to Gilroy again.