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The Shop At Home Network is a television channel that, as might be expected, sells products by showing them on TV and allowing people to call up and buy them, similar to Home Shopping Network or QVC. At least that's what it superficially appears to be.

But Shop At Home is really a compelling satire about America's obsession with and immersion in commercial junk. The main difference between Shop At Home and other works of satire is that it happens to be nonfictional.

The main characters are the salespeople. The actors (though not actual actors) do a brilliant job of subversively mocking our culture's commodity fetishism. They do this partly by exhibiting over-the-top enthusiasm when selling useless products such as inferior electronics, bogus celebrity memorabilia, knives which are inaccurately described as "collectible", ludicrous quantities of fake baseball cards, etc. This enthusiasm over worthless garbage hints at deep-rooted depression, loneliness, and desperation to the point of trying to make life meaningful by buying stuff. SAH is relentlessly nihilistic.

Also interesting is the fact that the salespeople are only making clowns of themselves because they want to be on TV; this has interesting cultural implications. There are many other subtleties which I will not go into here.

Each different show on SAH is devoted to selling a certain type of item. Each show is usually hosted by two people and goes on for several hours. By far the two funniest shows IMO are Sports Collectibles and the Knife Collectors Show with their hosts, Don West and Tom O'Dell, respectively. Don West is a masterful satirist. He maintains a level of utterly hilarious dementia throughout each program, often shouting at the top of his lungs. He has many ridiculous catch phrases like "Don't try to figure out how we're doing it at this price, because you can't figure it out!" He and other SAH actor-salespeople posess enormous silly energy worthy of Monty Python.

(Incidentally, Saturday Night Live did a few sketches which were a parody of Shop At Home's Sports Collectibles show. That very concept is absurd: making a parody of something that is already a huge joke (although a lot of people don't realize it's a joke), and SNL's version wasn't quite as funny as the original Shop At Home.)

I've just scratched the surface of Shop At Home's elaborate satirical masterwork. You must view it yourself if you want to experience its devastating sarcastic wit. SAH is truly innovative because it is a satire that runs 24 hours a day, is largely improvised, and is so subversive that even the authors don't know it's a joke. But if you get the joke, it's very funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud hysterical, and I recommend it to anyone who loves humor. Shop At Home is especially funny to watch when you are stoned.

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