Does television shape behavior or reflect it? And if it reflects it, is it an accurate representation or something from the circus funhouse? If television were a
realistic depiction of society, I'd be pretty worried -- if only about the threat of zombies.
Television has a long, weird history when it comes to mater-
ialism and consumer habits. It's an advertising medium, after all. With the exception of Ralph and Alice Kramden's spartan apartment on "The Honey mooners," or the Conners' ramshackle home on "Roseanne," few fictional characters have ever lived within their apparent means. Jerry's apartment on "Seinfeld" always seemed modestly suited for a guy who cobbled together a living from stand-up gigs. How Kramer survived is anybody's guess.
Sometimes the emphasis on getting and spending goes to strange, almost obscene extremes. I recall reviewing an episode of "iCarly," a show aimed at the very young, in which Carly and her friends spent more than $50,000 to
redecorate her bedroom.
Beyond scripted series, docudramas extolling the picking and pawning of items create a completely phony sense that fortunes can be made from mere scavenging. Cable also
explores and exploits the dark side of materialism, most
disturbingly on "Hoarders"
(9 p.m., A&E).
Now comes "My Shopping Addiction" (11 p.m., Oxygen), a series that follows young people and their unrealistic
relationship with money and
unhealthy obsession with possessions. In the opening segment we meet Heather. She should be comfortable, having received a large inheritance from her grandparents. But she's already blown through hundreds of thousands of
dollars on shopping binges.
Not all compulsive shoppers are as "lucky" as Heather. Roshanda subsidizes her bad habit by borrowing from friends and family. And we're not talking about luxury. Roshanda's places of indulgence are 99 Cent Only Stores.
"Shopping" also features advice from two psychologists who help both women admit to their compulsions and explore the reasons behind their self-destructive behavior.
---"Nick News With Linda Ellerbee" (8 p.m., Nickelod-
eon) hosts a "Kids Pick the President" special, introducing young viewers to the candidates. President Barack Obama taped an interview segment with Ellerbee. As of this column's filing, Gov. Mitt Romney had declined.
Young viewers can cast their votes for the following week at www.nick.com/kpp. The results of the poll will be announced next Monday.
---Game 2 of the National League Championship Series (7:30 p.m., Fox).
---Paula Abdul appears as a guest judge on "Dancing With the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Bay tries to make things right on "Switched at Birth" (8 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14).
---AMC airs "Friday the 13th" (8 p.m., TV-14) and "Friday the 13th, Part 2" (10:15 p.m., TV-14). It will also spotlight original short films as part of a "Living Night mares" series.
---Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen star in the 1995 miniseries "Gulliver's Travels" (8 p.m., Encore, concluding Tuesday).
---Rose takes a prisoner on "Alphas" (8 p.m., Syfy, TV-14).
---A sniper case requires cooperation with the FBI on "Major Crimes" (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
---Canton, Texas, is the setting for "Market Warriors" (9 p.m., PBS).
---The case of the decapitated polo player on "Hawaii Five-0" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Finding Danny is looking more like a long shot on "Revolution" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
---A getaway disrupted on "Castle" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---"Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" (9 p.m., Travel, TV-PG) travels to Rio.
---The new series "The Brokaw Files" (10 p.m., Military, TV-PG) offers hour-long reflections by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on a single subject. Tonight, it's the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Luke Skywalker plumbs the
secrets of Darth Vader's identity in the 1983 adventure "Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi" (7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Spike).
---Meet the godparents on "How I Met Your Mother" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Mary J. Blige and Michael Bublé visit "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC).
---PR problems on "90210" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---A door opens on "Partners" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Cupcake wars erupt on "2 Broke Girls" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---The perks of Central Park on "Gossip Girl" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Intimations of parenthood on "Mike & Molly" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Cheryl Hines and Michael
Kiwanuka appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS),
---Jennifer Aniston, Heather McDonald, Ross Mathews and Loni Love are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Evan Thomas sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Kaley Cuoco and the Whigs appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).
---Aziz Ansari, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, June Shannon and Josh Turner appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Jeff Goldblum and Sarah Paulson on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.