The Least I Can Do

I love television. Loves it! The only thing that is better than watching television is eating while watching television. I especially love what I call “helper television.” It’s vulgar entertainment with a psychology lesson—all rolled into one fun-filled half hour.

Do you live in a filthy, dysfunctional, crap-clogged house? Then I guarantee one of your favorite shows will be The Learning Channel’s magical Clean Sweep. Each week, a team of attractive, non-judgmental strangers descends upon a burgeoning garbage house. This elite team consists of a carpenter, a perky-breasted hostess, a designer, and an organizer/life coach. They pick the two worst rooms of the hovel, enforce a mandatory yard sale, slap some paint on the walls, and run a Swiffer.

All the denizens of the remade cave cry and swear that they’ll keep it clean this time, and that they didn’t know organized living could be so easy. But we the viewers know that as soon as the cameras shut down and the carpentry truck pulls away, Tearful Emotional Mom will start ferreting away scraps of quilting fabric and dried flowers with all the spastic energy of a squirrel in late November. When there is no room left, she’ll stuff her cheeks with it. Why? Because she just never knows when she’ll see damask at that price again.

Not to be outdone, Gruff Dad in Ill-Fitting Shorts will begin re-hoarding NFL bobblehead figurines and antique stereo equipment. Why? Because half of his tunes are on vinyl, and those bobbleheads (still in the box, natch), will double in value forty years from now. Soon, their bedroom will be even more cramped than before because the TV carpenter left brand-new shelving to fill.

It’s like giving the house gastric bypass surgery. The doctor has cleared out the pipes, but the brain of the house is still a pathological overeater. And putting this process on TV is even more brilliant because people who are attracted to that kind of show probably know a thing or two about living in filth. (Not me, of course!) And people who watch that show are actively not cleaning their houses while they watch that show. Can you hear Satan laughing?

My very favorite helper television show has got to be the Food Network’s Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. Semi-Homemade is the Insane Clown Posse of cooking shows—mediocre pre-made ingredients with a layer of busywork added. It’s a cooking show for people who cannot cook at all but love to pretend. Instead of raw ingredients, her recipes go something like this: Buy an angel food cake. Smear Cool Whip on top. Thrust a Barbie into the center. Presto: Barbie’s Hot Tub Party Cake!

Sandra caps off every episode by stirring up a big pitcher of girlie cocktails as a reward for all our hard work. Instead of just slapping grocery-store rotisserie chicken on the plate, Sandra will dump half a jar of salsa over it and accent the plate with a tiny plastic sombrero. And you know what would go extra good with that? Giant margaritas! Olé!

Sandra’s show always includes a signature cocktail related to the meal. For a birthday, it might be Sandra’s famous “Icing on the Cake” martinis (peach Schnapps, Kahlúa, and vodka in a sugar-rimmed glass). For a Halloween treat, the tantalizingly named “Witches’ Brew” (Mountain Dew and vodka served from a plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, with a sugared rim). I wish they just called the program Half Baked, starring your favorite alcoholic neighbor … Sandra Lee!

For me, the only thing that could be better than watching TV and eating would be watching TV, eating, avoiding cleaning the house, and getting sloshed all at the same time. Because I am so good at this kind of multi-tasking, I should have my own show. I’d call it The Least You Can Do, with your host, efficiency expert Colleen Kruse! I would demonstrate the ultimate in streamlined existence. For my kitchen segment, I’d prepare a feast of box wine and Dinty Moore stew: Hobo party! For my housekeeping segments, I’d show my viewers how to use sheets and blankets as window treatments. You won’t use actual drapes or blinds because you’ll sleep in your recliner in your bathrobe, snug as a swarm of bedbugs. Now that you won’t be needing that bedroom, the home-finance segment will show you how to market that space as prime rental property. Working from home is so now.

And now a word from our sponsors: Febreze Air Freshener and Colt 45 malt liquor.

Writer, performer, and femme fatale Colleen Kruse can be reached at