Thursday, January 20, 2005

Discovering health

I've been trying to figure out this Discovery Health Network for some time now. My wife, who concedes an addiction to "Chicago Hope" reruns on Discovery Health while she's home taking care of our 7-month old, started watching the channel while she was pregnant. In those days, it was mostly shows that all fell under the broad categories of "Bad Things That Can Happen While You're Pregnant", and "Bad Conditions Your Child Could Be Born With".

And so as I eavesdropped on today's episode of "Chicago Hope" (main plot line: Should a woman be allowed to harvest the sperm of her late husband, who dropped dead of a heart attack while he was on the way to donate the sperm for artificial insemination anyway, but against the wishes of her late husband's parents? And who says TV shows are far-fetched?) I noticed all the promos for other shows involved:

a) weight loss techniques (e.g., "The National Body Challenge");
b) sexuality (e.g., "The Electric Orgasm", which a quick check of the DHC website reveals is not close-captioned);
or c) conditions you hope to God you'll never have to deal with (e.g., "Diagnosis: Unknown" -- this week's episode: Silent Poison)

I can understand why one might want to watch shows in categories a) or b), but I'm trying to figure out what possesses people to tune into all the shows in category c). I'd like to think it's not pure schadenfreude on the part of Discovery Health's viewers. Maybe it's people with less-serious conditions who are watching, comforted in the notion that, hey, at least I don't have that.

My other thought is that it's encouraging all sorts of lunatic self-diagnoses. I'd be interested in a survey of Discovery Health's viewers to learn just how many of them have become hypochondriacs since they tuned to Cablevision channel 67.

Either way, I'm going to stick to Andy Griffith Show reruns.

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