Unstapled, Episode 6: The End of the Road.

By | February 22, 2010

My loves, it is with a heavy fat heart that I must inform you that this will be my final Unstapled recap, for reasons to be explained below. My sincere thanks for all your support, and I’m sorry I won’t be able to follow it through to the bitter end.

Previously: Carnie made plans to pitch a nebulous “product line” to QVC in New York. Carnie got measured by Dallas (with Rob’s help). Rob bought Carnie a bracelet which she may or may not find beautiful, thoughtful, and charming. Carnie still struggled with the pesky alcoholism issue.

We start straightaway with Carnie in confessionial, explaining that Dr. Oz has called and asked her to be on his show. Oh, that should go well. Carnie, of course, said yes, and since she’s also supposed to meet with QVC plus she’s filming this reality show you might have heard about, the whole family’s packing up (well, Carnie, Rob, the kids, and Aunt Dee Dee) and jet-setting to the opposite coast to both “enjoy ourselves, as well as get some work done.” Again, that should go well. We see the traveling through a series of still snapshots of the family at the airport and on the plane, so there’s no discussion of the potential challenges of Flying While Fat, which is disappointing given recent events. They arrive at the Omni Berkshire Place where Carnie & co have a massive suite. We are then treated to some totally gratuitous shots of Aunt Dee Dee wandering through the hotel looking for her room (!!!WACKY!!!), which I gotta say I find a bit insulting, primarily to my sense of humor but to Dee Dee herself as well.

That night, Carnie tells Rob she can’t sleep. Luckily the show couldn’t afford to get accommodations for the crew (I presume), so the camera guy sleeping on the floor in their room is there to catch their ensuing conversation on tape. He couldn’t possibly be there because this whole “can’t sleep” thing is a staged opportunity for Carnie to ponder her fears for the Dr. Oz show. No way. Carnie’s stressed, Rob is supportive. Then he gives her a dutch oven. These two deserve each other.

The next morning, they’re going ice skating. Carnie is terrified at first, but warms up (HA!) once she gets out on the ice. At one point she exclaims: “It’s like it’s exercise but you don’t feel like you’re exercising!” — HELLO, HAVE I NOT BEEN SAYING THIS FOR SIX BLEEDING WEEKS NOW? EXERCISE NEED NOT BE THE TORTUROUS BOREDOM THAT DALLAS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. — “We should go more, it’s great!” Afterwards, Dee Dee brings everyone hot cocoa and Carnie refuses, because she’s being “good”. Rob confessions that he’s proud of her for standing there freezing and thirsty while everyone else drinks their delicious and warming hot cocoa. Carnie notes that she honestly didn’t want any — which, believe it or not, can happen, as very few fatties will greedily gobble up whatever food is handed them.

Post ice-skating, Carnie has to go meet with Mickey the Manager, who has also flown out to NYC to “support” her, back at the hotel. Mickey says that Dr. Oz actually wants to “follow” Carnie’s progress over “ten or twelve weeks”, which means she’d have to come back to New York and go back on the show. Carnie’s all WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN for a minute, and then says, exasperated: “Don’t you think people are tired of heariing this [bleeeeeping] weight story?… I mean, it feel like it’s beating a dead horse: up, down, up, down.”

YES. YES YES YES. Carnie, there is little in this world that I want more than for you to be famous for pretty much ANYTHING other than being fat.

Mickey the Manager, whom I have NEVER LIKED, for the record, is shaking his head “no” emphatically. He confessions that he is trying to convert Carnie’s anxiety about the show to courage. “It’s been really hard the past few months, because I’m just stagnant,” Carnie tells him, and she’s hopeful Dr. Oz will help her have a “plan”. Which strikes me as ironic, considering she’s had a few people give her a “plan” (Dallas and his weird yoga, Nutritionist Lady and her binder) and all she’s done is rebel against them, and understandably so.

Next Carnie and Mickey need to chat about what, exactly, they’re going to pitch to QVC as Carnie’s products. Carnie’s decided on her bread pudding, and her cheesecake, both regular and sugar-free. She explains in confession that the situation is made tricky by the fact that they’re not dealing directly with QVC, but with one of QVC’s manufacturers, called Earthbound. Which would explain why they’re in New York and not Pennsylvania. Carnie also wants to sell aprons and oven mitts. And they’re off to the QVC meeting! Right now! Carnie confessions, “So much of my life and energy and feelings are focused around weight, and it’s just really relieving to just focus on something else, for just a few minutes.” Hey, if I had a Carnie Wilson self-awareness bingo card, I would have just gotten a square!

The guys at Earthbound/QVC are interested in Carnie’s ideas, surprise. They’d like to have some kind of cooking/selling-things combo show that features her. Interesting. Then they start discussing prospective brand names. One dude has proposed calling it, “Carnie Wilson’s Delicious” which is cute, but Carnie takes it straight to a sexual meaning (reading “Carnie Wilson’s” as a contraction, and not the possessive). She proposes calling it “It’s Delish” and the guys in the room seem to humor her, but isn’t that something Rachael Ray says a bunch already? Eh, what do I know, I don’t watch cooking shows.

Commercial. O HO, it’s a fabulous new Quaker product, something called “multigrain fiber crisps”! Correct me if I’m wrong, but back in the days when I derived most of my pleasure via self-deprivation, we called these things “rice cakes”. But good on you for reinventing the wheel, Quaker.

We’re off to see Dr. Oz! I am going to try, here, to get through this whole segment without making a single Wizard of Oz joke. Wish me luck.

Immediately after I’ve typed the above, Carnie says, “If anyone can help me, it’s him, so I’m just going to pretend I’m walking a yellow [bleeeeeping] brick road to Oz!” Fuck.

Carnie arrives at the studio, where Rob and Dee Dee are waiting. Who’s watching the kids? I guess it doesn’t matter, certainly a four year old and an infant can entertain themselves in New York for a few hours without getting into trouble. Carnie is greeted by Dr. Oz’s travel coordinator, who is herself a cute fat girl. In the green room, Carnie notes that the snacks are all fruits and vegetables. Carnie meets some producers, and then Dr. Oz comes in and hugs her and oozes oily charm all over the damn place. I don’t know if I have any Dr. Oz fans reading, and I should note that this is the first time I’ve seen the dude in motion, but my first impression is to be squicked. Carnie is basically over the moon, and calls him handsome, and is ALMOST at a loss for words, which is saying something. Rob, in the background, is snapping pictures of the two of them on his phone. Oh LOL. Dr. Oz gives her a digital camcorder (he calls it a “flip cam”, but it’s not) and asks her to record herself “struggling” when she gets home, because that will help him help her. Huh? Is this code for, “it will give me good candid footage to showcase your failure next time you’re on the show”? I honestly don’t know if Dr. Oz is a giant jerk (like Dr. Phil, who was also unleashed from Oprah’s TV womb), but he seems sort of… disingenous to me.

Dr. Oz books it out of the room and lets a producer deliver the news that he wants some numbers from Carnie, namely numbers derived from medical tests. Which he wants to do on air. Ooookay. The needle on my humiliation-o-meter is suddenly diving into the red. Carnie, bless her for having a brain in that head, is immediately suspicious. She’s not comfortable with having him check her blood pressure because, she says, “it’s going to be high, I mean I’m on the show and I’m nervous as [bleep]. It would not even be accurate.” The producer replies, “It’s just sort of a visual illustration of sort of one the things Dr. Oz does to look at your weight.” Because testing your blood pressure tells him how many pounds you weight? Because nobody knows what having your blood pressure checked looks like? Or because we need something dramatic so Dr. Oz can have a Serious Conversation with you about your Imminent Death and the Orphaning of your Children? I am apoplectic right now. A visual illustration? What the fuck does that even mean? PLEASE, Carnie, stand your fucking ground on this. In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!”

The producer chuckles at Carnie’s reluctance and says, “It’s gonna be good!” Carnie folds like a house of cards and says alright. DAMN IT. After this, Carnie is visibly shaken, like enough that in spite of my frustrations with her, and the reality that I find her quite annoying at times, more than anything I want to go and hug her and say it’s okay, you don’t have to do this, or at least you can do it on your own terms, and you have the right and the courage to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable. She seems blindsided, and rightly so. Carnie has so much loving support, and yet no one is telling her that she should trust her instincts, and that she’s an intelligent adult with the capacity to take care of herself.

It’s magic time! But first, commercials. There’s a very long ad for a hands-free soap dispenser that I find hilarious for some reason.

Carnie hits the stage and Dr. Oz preps her by mentioning that she’s “struggled with her weight” since she was four years old — this, right away, disgusts me, because the most complicated thing a four-year-old should be struggling with is learning to write her own name so that others can read it — and then asks if she’s drinking again. Carnie bursts into tears almost immediately and says no, she’s grateful for her sobriety every day of her life. Dr. Oz wants to know if Carnie’s replaced her addiction to alcohol with an addition to sugar, which makes me think he’s not done any reading on the potential link between weight-loss surgery and alcoholism either, nor does he know a damn thing about Carnie’s medical history. Carnie says she is an addictive personality and she’s not ashamed to admit that, it’s part of who she is. Fair enough.

Dr. Oz walks her over to a big fake scale — I’m assuming they weighed her before she went on. Hey, numbers! Carnie weighs 218 pounds. Her waist is 41-point-something inches, and Dr. Oz takes this moment to opine on the especially-deadly nature of the dreaded Bellyfat. He actually says it will “poison the organs inside of you” which, dudes, is kind of overstating things just a bit, and this criticism is coming from someone with an unabashed fondness for hyperbole. I mean, simply put, if fat in the gut literally poisioned people, there would be no old fat people. And there are lots and lots of old fat people. If Dr. Oz wants to talk about the difference between subucutaneous fat and visceral fat (in a nutshell: subcutaneous fat is the fat we see in rolls and dimples, while visceral fat exists within the peritoneal cavity, is also found in thin people, and has demonstrated effects on things like insulin resistance or fatty liver disease; google for more, as though I am not stupid on these matters, I dislike going into them), then I will patiently listen, but simply noting someone has a belly is not conclusive evidence that they have visceral fat in dangerous levels. Period.

Dr. Oz proceeds to check her blood sugar, and uses one of those shiny handy finger-sticking meter-gadgets diabetic folks can use now to check their glucose through the day. Wait, what? Don’t you need a fasting blood test to evaluate diabetes risk? He glances at the result and says, immediately, serious and firm, with a certainty that makes me roll my eyes so hard I can see through time: “Your blood sugar’s a hundred. That means you’re borderline diabetic again.”

DING DING DING WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP IRRESPONSIBLE MEDICINE ALERT. I knew my instincts about this guy were spot on.

FIRST, prediabetes is not diagnosed by a finger prick. Ever. Prediabetes, just like regular diabetes, is diagnosed via either a fasting glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test. Both of these require several hours’ preparation, and a finger-prick simply doesn’t compare as quality information. ALSO, EVEN IF a positive result is accomplished via one of these two methods, a responsible physician will retest a few days later just to be certain it wasn’t a fluke, as flukes do happen, so technically a diagnosis of either prediabetes or diabetes cannot be made until there have been two consecutive positive results at least a few days apart. ALSO ALSO, even IF this were a means of diagnosis, a random blood glucose result of 100 is NOT prediabetic ANYWAY. A normal non-fasting blood glucose range is in the low- to mid-100s. I am not just inventing this information out of the air, y’all — this is how it is. Google these questions yourself and you’ll find numerous respectable medical resources explaining all of this.

THEREFORE, more than being irresponsible, a sham, a fraud, and a liar, Dr. Oz is an asshole, because I’ve no doubt at all that he is entirely aware of this. I mentioned being apoplectic before, but now I am so apoplectic that I had to take a few minutes to scream at my husband and terrify the cats out of the room.

Carnie just keeps saying, “I can’t believe it.” She’s speechless, aside from these four words. She shouldn’t believe it. She confessions that her spirit is “crushed”. Hasn’t Carnie had an annual physical recently? If she’s at risk for diabetes, wouldn’t that physical have included a fasting blood glucose test? (I know I have one of these every couple of years, and my only diabetes risk factor is being a fatass.) Why doesn’t it occur to her that this fake fucking diagnosis is wrong, and instead of immediately trusting it, she should go see her real doctor and get some reliable bloodwork done by a responsible professional? Indeed, backstage after the show, Carnie is astonished because she says she’s BEEN in contact with doctors this whole time and NONE of them told her she was prediabetic. Probably because she’s not. Meanwhile, Rob is being a totally insensitive asshole and essentially telling Carnie she has no right to feel shocked, or to feel any emotional response at all. Carnie starts crying. I’m checked out, guys. I am done.

Carnie and Rob go out for a romantic dinner, and blabber more about Carnie’s being fat and about to die, etc. etc. Whatfuckingever. Rob enlists the help of the waiter to present Carnie the bracelet he picked out. Carnie loves it, so I guess he knows what she likes after all.

Next week: Carnie talks to Dallas about her “new” Dr. Oz-approved plan; her whole family goes on The Newlywed Game; her father may or may not appear; someone gets trapped in a collapsing bouncy castle. Seriously.

Unfortunately for my beloved readers, my recapping of this show will not continue after this post. I am disgusted past the point of no return, and so I have decided to bring this effort to an end prematurely, for the sake of my sanity. For one, this show is just bad. It’s not entertaining, the “characters” are neither relatable nor likable (excepting the children we rarely see), the only person who can be sympathetic at all is Carnie herself, and even that is a rare occurrence. I was, truly, a little iffy on whether I’d make it through this series from the start, given the weight-loss component, and for the first few episodes they did an okay job of balancing Carnie’s fat fixation with the other stuff that goes on in her life. But it’s not interesting for me anymore. It was one thing when it was just funny and silly and ridiculous, but I don’t think I can continue on considering Carnie’s currently operating based on a significant lie about her health, and unless the beginning of next week’s episode shows her doubting this “diagnosis” and getting a second (or first, really) opinion, I refuse to give this bullshit a single nanosecond more of my time. Carnie may, in fact, be prediabetic, but she needs to get an actual diagnosis, and not a sham reveal from a fucking TV quack. Not only is this insulting to the intelligence of everyone who watches this show, it’s insulting to people who are living with diabetes for real, and only reinforces the mistaken notion a lot of folks have that doctors are automatically always right about everything and should never be questioned. My impression is that since Carnie doesn’t seem to have any significant health issues related to her size, this show felt it had to invent one. Well, bully for them, but I’m no longer playing along, as there are far worthier outlets than this farce for my intelligence, my rage, and my snark.

Happy trails, Carnie! Best of luck in whatever the hell it is you hope to accomplish in your life, and tell Rob I said fuck you very much. Thank you and goodnight.

(I still intend to recap Kirstie Alley’s rapidly-approaching foray into reality-TV starting late next month. Let’s all hope it’s a better experience than this one.)

This week’s poll results:
The question was… Lingerie-shopping with your family?
What? No. 45.7%
Cannelini beans. 23.5%
Only if my family included Cass Elliott’s daughter. 16%
Sure, why not? 11.1%
I am actually lingerie-shopping with my family right now. 3.7%

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