“A Letter Responding to Complaints About TiVo Suggestions”, by John Frank Weaver

Oct 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Prose

Dear Mr. Markham,

Thank you for writing to TiVo, Inc. We are always delighted to hear from our subscribers, particularly when they offer us an opportunity to address concerns and improve TiVo service. Certainly, your letter qualifies. In it, you state that your TiVo is programmed to automatically record three programs every week: 24, WWE Raw, and UFC – The Ultimate Fighter. Based on these regularly recorded programs, as well as one-time only recordings like UFC 76: Knockout, the Tivo Suggestions function has recommended other programming it believes you will like. According to your letter, most of these suggestions are logical, although you do not always watch them. For example, TiVo suggested that you watch WWE Friday Night Smackdown! because you like WWE Raw, although you declined, feeling that “the plotlines are pedestrian and don’t move the human spirit” in the same way that WWE Raw does.

However, you expressed concern and even outrage at some of the other programming suggestions TiVo made for you. In particular, Hannah Montana seemed to trouble you. You spent three pages ranting about the show, which TiVo suggested to you five times. In those pages, you berated TiVo for thinking you could enjoy a “stupid kids show” that features “some annoying 14-year old Disneyfied, popstar wannabe.” Apparently you felt particularly betrayed upon learning that Billy Ray Cyrus also starred, writing that you “actually ripped out a car radio and threw it on the highway” when your favorite radio station played “Achy Breaky Heart” during the height of its popularity.

However, Hannah Montana features some striking similarities with your programmed shows, like 24. Both Billy Ray Cyrus and Kiefer Sutherland share gritty good looks and faces weathered by lives of action. Additionally, themes of fatherhood and daddy-daughter relationships are prevalent in the two shows. Perhaps most telling, both Hannah Montana and 24 feature high concepts that force the viewers to deal with the shows on their own terms: 24 illustrates the tension inherent in confining a show’s events to one day, Hannah Montana illustrates the tension inherent in a teenager trying to straddle normal life and pop superstardom. The list of similarities goes on and on.

Additionally, complicated and tumultuous relationships are the centerpiece of Hanna Montana, much like they are on WWE Raw. The strained relationship between ex-paramours Hannah Montana and boy-movie-star Jack Ryan closely resembles the tumultuous and often violent relationship between ex-lovers Lita and Kane, particularly after Lita flushed his engagement ring down a toilet and attempted to have sex with Edge in the middle of the ring. I might add that the prominence of theme music on both shows is another indication that these shows are more alike than you think.

Finally, one of the most important themes in UFC – The Ultimate Fighter is fame. Contestants on the show must deal with their own expectations of winning a six-figure, 9-fight deal that ensures them a spot on Ultimate Fighting pay-per-view events and all the attention that comes with it. Similarly, Miley Stewart, Hannah Montana’s alter ego, must cope with the strain of hiding her famous, popstar identity while living as a normal teenager. I think you’ll find that when viewing these programs with that theme in mind, they are almost the same show, except that The Ultimate Fighter has more blood.

Mr. Markham, I hope that this letter addresses your concerns and convinces you to embrace the programs that TiVo Suggestions has recommended to you. We here at TiVo, Inc. stand behind that function’s ability to know what you want even more than you do. Remember, your TiVo gets you.

Michael Poryes,
TiVo Customer Relations

John Frank Weaver is the pen name of a fictitious writer dreamed up by an infinite number of typewriter-pounding monkeys, which were created by Émile Borel, a physicist featured in a Wikipedia entry written by someone named John Frank Weaver.

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