Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Abby & Brittany are Coming to TLC Tonight!

Amazing human beings have always been a genuine fascination of mine, and clearly TLC Network is on the same wavelength, especially starting tonight.  Long ago abandoning their original "The Learning Channel" identity for something decidedly more ratings-friendly, TLC today skirts an interesting line between exploitation and emotion.  Probably the first show many of us watched on the network was Trading Spaces, the home decorating switcheroo series (adapted from the British version) that was a smash and ran for eight seasons.  TLC (and the now-OWN Discovery Health net)also hit gold with Jon & Kate Plus 8, the multi-season multiple-child reality series that eventually broke apart a marriage but was continued to gather headlines as Kate tried to parlay her childbearing fame into other venues (not particularly successfully, however).  Fashionista viewers get a kick out of the two style experts who tear apart the wardrobes of unsuspecting schlubs on What Not to Wear, and those who like cooking combined with histrionics can watch the overwrought shenanigans on shows like Cake Boss

Ex-Amish people, little people, gypsy people, people who talk to ghosts (the new-ish sensation Long Island Medium), extremely little people (the primordial dwarf brother and sister stars of Big Tiny), child beauty pagent people, bridalwear people (of the Say Yes to the Dress franchise which has spawned a couple of spin-offs), polygamist people, and many other examples of life's rich pageant are having their more than fifteen minutes of fame on TLC.  We don't want to forget about the super-fecund Duggar Family of 19 Kids and Counting which -- almost totally thanks to the completely charming, down-to-earth and extremely likeable Michelle Duggar -- is much more watchable than one would ever imagine.

But tonight TLC goes to an extra-special place.  Tonight at 10pm TLC premieres Abby & Brittany, a new reality series starring Abigail and Brittany Hensel, the dicephalic parapagus conjoined twins -- two heads on one body -- who have been mostly quietly living their lives in Minnesota and growing up into lovely 22-year-old young ladies. Quietly, that is, until now.  Abby and Brittany are truly extraordinary and amazing, not only simply in terms of how rare their unique medical situation is, but also because they are living in a time when thankfully they have choices they can make, and they have decided to open up their lives for us to learn from and appreciate.  These two young women, who surely know what it's like to be considered different, are helping us to see that they aren't really that different after all, and that's the essence of the appeal of Abby & Brittany

from April 1996
As we've seen in previous television documenaries about Abby and Brittany, these are two distinct individuals, probably no more the same than any two sisters, who just happen to share one body between them.  Somehow, with inexplicable coordination, concentration and communication, Abby and Brittany do everything that any other two women can, but they have to do it in concert and seamlessly.  Each of them controls one arm and one leg, for instance, and yet they knew how to make it work, "it" meaning everything they've had to do together since they were born. 

Maybe you'll just want to stare at them for a while in their new series.  That's just fine, because they are something special.  Over the years they've stated repeatedly that they don't like being stared at, but it seems like they must have come to terms with that in order to have their own reality show.  Reality shows are all about staring, but there's a great deal of understanding and knowledge that can come from such a base beginning point. 

I'm going to heartily recommend getting to know Abby & Brittany.  I think we should be honored to be able to look inside their lives, and I assume that TLC is making it well worth it for them.  These girls were handed a situation that is unimaginable, and yet, they thrive.  "We throw it out there, and let it go," says Abby.  Go for it, Abby & Brittany!

For more background information on Abby and Brittany, I'd suggest watching the incredible hour-long documentary from 2006, which you can find here on YouTube.


Jane said...

I've followed these girls for their entire lives. They were born one day before Tommy (March 7, 1990) and I have been utterly fascinated by their ability to lead a "normal" life under their extraordinary circumstances. I have mixed feelings about TLC's emphasis on human oddities sometimes, but then I realize what hypocrasy since I'm right there watching most of these shows...and I'll be watching Abby and Brittany too!

Enaira Fontaine said...

Abby and Brittany is bound to teach the public something about the fact that being different is important and that it’s normal. They’ve embraced their situation wholeheartedly and have decided to make light of how normal they really are. I’ve got my Hopper already set up to record each of the episodes in this season and with 2,000 hours of recording time I shouldn’t have a problem doing that. I’m usually at work at Dish when the prime time shows air but I know that they’ll be there when I get home. I think the show will also answer some burning questions from the public and also shed light on how the young ladies have been able to make theirs an extraordinary life.

Lisa said...

Thanks for visiting here, Enaira, and we definitely agree about Abbe and Brittany. I thought the show was quite good and was so impressed how well they came across on camera. Really charming girls with plenty of pizazz!

Thanks again for coming here!