Generally, I don't like the reality TV genre.
Give me soap operas or mindless sitcoms. I use television as a form of escapism. My own real life is quite real enough for me, thanks.
There are two exceptions, however.
The first is "Gene Simmons Family Jewels."
Yeah, I know the guy is a megalomaniac. I know his band, KISS, isn't everyone's cup of tea.
But I enjoy watching him interact with his significant other and with his teenage children. I think he's charming in a weird sort of way.
And I don't necessarily think of that show as "reality" television.
On any given episode, Gene might buy an island or an Australian sports team. In one episode, he bought cars for both of his kids, and paid cash for them.
How real is that?
The other reality show I always catch is "Dancing with the Stars."
I love to watch ballroom dancing. I've been begging my husband for years to take lessons. I want to be able to do a Viennese Waltz or a Foxtrot at our daughter's wedding (you know, in 10 years or so).
He refuses, pointing out that I'm not the most coordinated person in the world and that I'd likely end up snapping my foot at the ankle.
Last year, I thought it would be a great idea if either my assistant or my sports editor would take a ballroom dance class with me, and then we could write "He said, she said" accounts of the experience.
No dice there, either. Neither one of them shared my enthusiasm for the proposal.
So I watch the show instead, wishing I could learn to tango and rumba.
The thing that bugs me about the show is that every season they put someone in the cast who is at least 20 years older than the rest.
Now, I'm not saying that 60-, 70- and even 80-somethings can't cut a rug. I've seen it done. My husband's grandparents used to dance at weddings all the time, and they were in their mid-80s.
Anyone who attended last year's Dancing With the Putnam County Stars event knows that former DePauw University football coach Nick Mourouzis could shake his groove thing with the best of them.
But being on the actual "Dancing With the Stars" television show means months of training. Hours and hours of endless physical activity.
Some of the older cast members have included George Hamilton (67), Jerry Springer (62), John Ratzenberger (60), Wayne Newton (65), Cloris Leachman (82) and Tom DeLay (62).
All of them were eliminated from the competition fairly quickly. Tom DeLay had to withdraw because he suffered stress fractures in both feet.
I have always been bothered that the people who put this show together would make a guy who was now a lounge act in Vegas dance against a teenage Cheetah Girl.
This season, the eldest dancer is Buzz Aldrin.
You know, the first guy who walked on the moon.
I am not saying that Buzz isn't just as cute as the dickens; he is.
But he's up against a Pussycat Doll and Pamela Anderson, for crying out loud.
His first dance?
Buzz did his level best. He seems to be in great physical shape, but he had obvious trouble remembering his steps.
Instead of applauding his valiant effort, the judges ripped Buzz apart, giving him the night's lowest score -- 13 points out of a possible 30.
All I can say is, thank God for DVR. I was able to fast-forward through not only most of the routine, which was making me slightly uncomfortable, but also through the judge's nasty comments, which were downright painful.
It's just mean. You know that these people aren't going to be able to keep up with 20-somethings on a dance floor. That's not a judgment or a criticism, it just is.
I know I'm ready to quit dancing long before my 19-year-old daughter is when we go to weddings. And I should be. I'm twice her age.
I don't understand why people want to make spectacles of these personalities we should have nothing but respect for. Buzz Aldrin is an American icon. I don't want to see Len Goodman giving him a dressing down because he has bad posture.
He's 80, and he's being flounced around the dance floor like a rag doll by 27-year-old Ashly Costa.
Give the guy a break.
I would love watching the older contestants if they weren't being judged. Maybe the powers that be at "DWTS" should consider having them do some sort of exhibition dance instead of actually being a part of the competition.
I think that might be easier on everyone.
Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic. Her e-mail is email@example.com.