An overactive radiator has made sleep a luxury for me the last few weeks. By six AM, oppressive dry heat forces me awake, and I stagger out of bed as crispy and delicious as a supermarket rotisserie chicken. Because I can get five times as much work done from 6 AM to 10 AM as I can from 10 AM to 5, this is not such a bad thing. I've had an uncommonly productive winter—writing, reading and consuming oatmeal at an unprecedented rate—but I have also been indulging in a more dangerous habit. I have been thinking about morning television.
It should be the insomniac's friend. The news is soft, the anchors are smiling, and everyone is drinking coffee. (Or pretending to, anyway. What's in the mug, Scarborough?! What's in the mug?!) This format makes sense for happy viewers. But who is happy in the morning? I ask this as a borderline-morning person—someone who doesn't mind getting out of bed to type words on a computer, but who does not want to have to smile while he's doing it.
I think there's a market for sleepyfied morning television. Instead of wide-eyed weathermen and giddy anchors, I want to see people on TV who look like me. The on-camera personalities should be fresh out of bed, hair mussed and pajamas wrinkled. I want yawns, coughs and bleary-eyed, awkward silences. I would like a few members of the news team who fucking hate being awake at this hour, and aren't afraid to let their coworkers know it. And, whenever possible, I'd like one of the correspondents to be hungover. I want a news show that says, "Hate to be awake? So do we."
The news reports can be mumbled or altogether silent. I see a segment where the lead anchor scans the papers quietly, and then half-heartedly attempts to explain something interesting that he read—something like a concussed Pat McKiernan. As the morning wears on and the caffeine takes hold, the anchors can become a bit more lively. By ten AM, they're either wide awake or on their way back to bed.
The show to pair this with, of course, would be drunk nightly news. At six o'clock the anchors are just starting on their second round, and everyone is feeling good. "Terrible news from Afghanistan," says our overly confident chief political correspondent. "And I am here to tell you all about it."
By the ten o'clock news, though, the smiles are beginning to droop. Most of the hooch is gone, and coherence has followed it out the door. The anchors are necking, the weatherman is drawing dirty pictures with his telestrator, and on-camera interviews are becoming unnecessarily aggressive. The sports report is incredibly emphatic, and even if by the end we're not sure which team won, we know that "The Knicks are fucking awesome this year, and the Mets are goddamned bullshit." Because the crew has been drinking too, it's hard to tell what's really going on. But we're positive that everyone's having a good time.
The next morning, we sound the alarm for the morning show, confident that we won't be subjected to any false smiles, and that everyone will be authentically giddy if they find that Mario Batali is coming to show them how to make the perfect breakfast pizza.