Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ryan & Tatum - A Reality Show Worth Watching

I know, I know....Reality shows are bad for us.  It's all voyeurism.  Bad TV. Bad people for airing their dirty laundry for a few minutes of fame.   Bad networks for giving it to us.  Bad us for watching it.

But Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals on OWN  is pretty compelling TV for me anyway.  It's about a dysfunctional family trying to come back together.   It's about forgiveness.  If you are going to be a voyeur (and come-- on we ALL are) - this is something to watch.  You have to hand it to Oprah (and OWN is her network) --she became an icon taking something that was probably bad for us and using it to educate us.

The short version of the sordid story of this family is that Tatum's father Ryan and mother broke up when she was very young.  For the first six years of her life she lived with her mother who was an alcoholic.  Ryan got custody of her and for the next several years it was just the two of them and they were very close.  Then he met Farrah Fawcett and nobody else existed for those two.  Not even their children.

Tatum never got over her father's abandonment and refused to speak to him for 25 years.  Her life spiraled out of control with substance abuse.  But she got sober, Farah died and father and daughter are trying to find their way back to one another.  On camera.  And it's pretty compelling TV.

Yes I know they are both actors and this could all be put on for our sake.  I can be kind of gullible (It took several episodes of "Pit Boss" before it occurred to me some of these situations HAD to be contrived and set up).

But it rings true.  Tantum is 47 years old and she is still desperate to please her father and worries about saying something to him that will make him mad.  Ryan thinks he's the victim and SHE abandoned him.  He says in all seriousness to his therapist that when he met Farrah "Tatum got left at the curb.  But I told her - STAY there and I'll come back and get you"  But of course she did not wait for him at the curb and he's still can't quite understand why.

 But they love each other and keep trying.  They go to therapy.  He goes to her AA meeting and is surprised that the people are there are "smart and good looking"   Ryan comes off as the clueless one here.  And yet he loves his daughter desperately and keeps trying and you have to admire that. 

This is  a story played out in countless families across the country.  If someone can watch this and get some insight, some understanding or some inspiration to reach out and repair a broken relationship, well ...isn't that what it is all about?

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