Okay, so the new TV shows are rolling out soon. Used to be, back in the day, new shows started in the fall, ended in the spring, and then you watched reruns all summer or bad TV Movies of the Week, usually starring Susan St. James.  You knew where you stood, back in the day. Now, new shows crop up before you can say “bob’s your uncle,” (although why you’d say that is anyone’s guess).

I’m about to complain about the premise of (an as-yet unseen) TV show but before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I love TV. Husband and I have “our shows,” we TiVo religiously, and we periodically wonder what our lives have become when a good night means that we have two episodes of “Chuck” in our TiVo queue.

The premise of this new show is that three women, “of a certain age,” decide to move to Cleveland because men seem to find them more attractive there than do the men in LA. Apparently it’s more fun to be 50 and single in Cleveland than in LA.  The women move to Cleveland (where they’ve been stranded due to an airline screwup, perhaps the most believeable element of the premise), and eventually move in together, complete with a housekeeper played by Queen of the Moment, Betty White.

And who are these ancient doddering women, women who are so past their prime that they have to move to Cleveland in order to get a date? 

This woman:

This woman:

And this one:

All three of these women–Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and Valerie Bertinelli–are about 50, the death knell in sexy-land unless you’re Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep.  So we’re supposed to believe that at 50, their dating days are over. But then the ad campaign for the show photographed these actresses in full glamor-gal fashion: tons of hair blowing around, lots of airbrused cheekbones, that sort of thing–but we’re supposed to believe that they’re only hot in Cleveland?  (Nothing against Cleveland, mind you–they fixed my mother’s heart there and I had one of the best meals of my life at a restaurant in the warehouse district), but still. 

What’s the joke here? That men in all the other cities are so stupid they don’t see how beautiful these women are?  That we’re all supposed to say hardeeharhar, of course these women are total babes and who wouldn’t want to date them and aren’t the dudes in Cleveland lucky–first the Rock n’Roll Hall of Fame, and now Valerie B? 

I like these actresses and I’ve liked their TV characters in other shows (and yes, I join in the general international adoration of Betty White; I’d do her in a heartbeat if I didn’t think she were still pining away for Alan Ludden), but what does it mean that to find work, these actresses have signed on to a show whose premise is that at 50, you’re so unhot that you’ve got to leave everything behind and move half-way across the country just so that you have some hope ever of getting yourself a little coochy-coochy? 

50 doesn’t feel that far away to me anymore, alas, and that means that Hot in Cleveland is making me feel depressed in Manhattan. Because if they aren’t hot, then jeezuz, I’m going to have to move to Dubuque in a few years.