Does television shape behavior, or reflect it? And if it reflects it, is it an accurate representation or something from the circus funhouse? If television were a realistic depiction of society, I’d be pretty worried — if only about the threat of zombies.
Television has a long, weird history when it comes to materialism and consumer habits. It’s an advertising medium, after all. With the exception of Ralph and Alice Kramden’s spartan apartment on “The Honeymooners,” or the Conners’ ramshackle home on “Roseanne,” few fictional characters have ever lived within their apparent means.
Beyond scripted series, docudramas extolling the picking and pawning of items create a completely phony sense that fortunes can be made from mere scavenging. Cable also explores and exploits the dark side of materialism, most disturbingly on “Hoarders” (8 p.m., A&E;).
Now comes “My Shopping Addiction” (10 p.m., Oxygen), a series that follows young people and their unrealistic relationship with money and unhealthy obsession with possessions. In the opening segment we meet Heather. She should be comfortable, having received a large inheritance from her grandparents. But she’s already blown through hundreds of thousands of dollars on shopping binges.
Not all compulsive shoppers are as “lucky” as Heather. Roshanda subsidizes her bad habit by borrowing from friends and family. And we’re not talking about luxury. Roshanda’s places of indulgence are 99 Cent Only Stores.
‘‘Shopping” also features advice from two psychologists who help both women admit to their compulsions and explore the reasons behind their self-destructive behavior.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Game 2 of the National League Championship Series (6:30 p.m., Fox).
• Paula Abdul appears as a guest judge on “Dancing With the Stars” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Canton, Texas, is the setting for “Market Warriors” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
• “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (8 p.m., Travel) travels to Rio.
• The new series “The Brokaw Files” (9 p.m., Military) offers hour-long reflections by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on a single subject. Tonight, it’s the D-Day invasion of Normandy.