Animal Planet sort of went all National Geographic on me.
I used to love Animal Planet. Because I'm like a 5-year-old, and anything with four legs, fur and a wet snout makes me giggle. But National Geographic? I would liken it to sort of an R-rated Disney Channel. There's always gazelles being eaten by lions and elephants dying. Or small rodents being clawed away by vultures. And nobody helps them. I mean, come on, you're a camera crew. And do you see that gazelle? See him prancing through the desert, all happy-like? And alive? He doesn't want to die. Shoo the lions away or something, God. Don't film the attack. And then show it to me.
Animal Planet was nice. Brad Pitt helped raise baby bears. Jeff Corwin played with lizards. And Steve Irwin coined the phrase, "Crikey!" It was happy. But then Steve Irwin died. And next thing I know, I'm watching a show today called "Meerkat Manor." And it looks cute because, hi, it's like meerkat reality TV. It follows a family of meerkats called the Whiskers. And they're cute, and tip-toe-y, and have little arms and legs. And suddenly I love them, because meerkats, people? They are so precious.
And mama meerkat is named Flower, and isn't that pleasant? And her children play rough and tumble and scavenge for critters and dig holes. But then the music goes dark. And Flower's son named Shakespeare? He gets bitten by a poisonous snake. Twice. And he scampers off, injured. And he whimpers. And he lays down because he's losing strength. And the horrible voiceover reminds us that, "Shakespeare's body is filled with venom. His strength is weakening. He'll be lucky to make it home by dark. And survive." And the whole time? He's being filmed, slowly dying. And limping. While his family goes on running willy nilly through the desert without him. Like a soldier left behind.
And then? There's a glimmer of hope. Shakespeare makes it back to the burrows. And he crawls inside, assumedly safe. And curls into a ball. Before the voiceover reminds us, "Even breathing takes too much energy for the weakened Shakespeare. He won't make it through the night." And the camera pans over Shakespeare's shivering body. His eyes open. His small, dying belly rising and falling with each final breath.
WHAT THE HELL, PEOPLE? Like I needed to see that. Like little Shakespeare had to suffer and die on FILM. Aired on a Monday afternoon when small, fragile people (LIKE MYSELF) could be watching. It sort of made me ill. And sad. And now I won't to start a relief fund for the poor Whiskers family because next week?
"Flowers babies go out in the world for the first time. Only one in four have a chance in surviving two days."
And the screen fades out as clumsy, furry Whiskers babies bumble through the desert on their own. Likely going to be eaten by an eagle. Or something. And we'll all watch it happen on Animal Planet to the crescendo of a dramatic soundtrack.