TV Article

I Was a 'Monster' Virgin

Diablo Cody finds a new TV obsession -- The author on the History Channel's ''MonsterQuest''

Diablo Cody finds a new TV obsession

So the other day, remote in hand, I was blundering through my impossible-to-navigate cable-TV menu. (Seriously, this thing is inoperable. Press the wrong button and you might accidentally order Szechuan. Or worse, Armageddon.)

I clicked doggedly from ABC to Starz HD, finding myself in that situation immortalized by Bruce Springsteen in ''57 Channels (And Nothin' On).'' Except it was arguably worse, since I have more channels than Bruce and I can't just make out with Patti Scialfa if I get bored. Television is essential to my overall wellness. It's my only distraction from the endless, unceasing California sunshine that refuses to get off my damn lawn.

I grew more and more frustrated as my remote, blighted with Cheetos dust, refused to yield anything interesting. But then, magically, I found a minotaur in that labyrinth of suck: MonsterQuest. On the History Channel.

I normally ignore the History Channel. The Ken Burns effect gives me vertigo, and if I want to hear stories about dinosaurs, I'll watch CBS. MonsterQuest, however, has given me a reason to be a loyal viewer of the ''H-Chan.'' It's a cryptozoology-based reality show, which translates to a bunch of geeky eccentrics running around looking for El Chupacabra, real-life hobbits, and Bigfoot. How awesome is that? I have Bigfoot wallpaper! (And not on my computer desktop — I mean, I literally have Bigfoot wallpaper in my kitchen.)

When I was a kid, my sixth-grade biology textbook contained a single, cloudy photograph of what was either the Loch Ness monster (!) or a plesiosaur-shaped log. I became obsessed with this fabled creature; the ambiguous image was branded on my subconscious. What if it was real? What if a stalk-necked beast really slept at the bottom of a lake in Scotland? I had a vivid nightmare that ''Nessie'' came crashing through my bedroom window while my parents watched passively. Ever since, I've been obsessed with fake — er, mythical — animals.

Okay, so the show: I lost my MonsterQuest virginity with the ''Giant Killer Snakes'' episode. In this installment, two dudes in Venezuela rig an underwater sonar device in the hopes of finding the snake that ate Owen Wilson in Anaconda. (Lucky bitch!) Meanwhile, in the U.S., a guy insists that scores of pythons are migrating from the Everglades to the suburbs. I hate snakes, so of course I watched this episode three times. Then I went outside and accidentally attacked a garden hose with an ax. You gotta love when creepy nature shows give you that paranoid gooseflesh sensation. It's sort of like how just saying the word lice makes kids spontaneously scratch their heads.

The best part of the episode was the totally unscientific map they showed halfway through. It allegedly showed the future spread of killer snakes in North America — if you believe MonsterQuest, our scaly friends could be en route to the Midwest. (I assume they're attracted to the region's famously big-butted denizens; to paraphrase Sir Mix-a-Lot, ''those anacondas don't want none, unless you got buns, hon.'' Groan!) All in all, the show was a bust; neither the South Americans nor the Everglades guy managed to actually find evidence of a 100-foot snake. But who cares? THEY'RE OUT THERE AND THEY'RE COMING FOR YOU. Watch out, Michigan!

As if the snake action weren't satisfying enough, I then watched an episode titled ''Giant Bear Attack'' about...yeah, unnaturally enormous bears. According to the ''artist's rendering,'' these bears can get way taller than Manute Bol and are (of course) completely fearless. Once again, the traps set for these beasts by MonsterQuest yielded nothing. It doesn't matter; I still went to sleep wondering when — not if — I would be eaten and digested by a snarling mutant. I might as well crawl into a pot labeled ''HUNNY'' and await my doom.

I'm just relieved that I now have an entire season of MonsterQuest to enjoy instead of my usual reality-tripe staples. Skeptics may laugh, but werewolves, abominable snowmen, and sea monsters are still slightly more real than Heidi and Spencer. (A werewolf could probably pull off a crying scene in one take.) And if Bigfoot needs a new BFF à la Paris Hilton, I'm so there. We could totally share shoes!

Originally posted Oct 17, 2008 Published in issue #1017 Oct 24, 2008 Order article reprints
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