Kathy Griffin’s trip to Iraq offers insight into the troops’ lives, and “highly inappropriate” jokes

Tonight, Bravo series Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List wraps up a story arc about Kathy’s visit to Iraq. As unlikely as this sounds, this ordinarily light and fun reality show has, over the course of these two episodes, illustrated for us the situation in Iraq much better than television usually does.

Last week’s episode, which repeats tonight at 8 p.m. ET before the new episode (and at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.), was, in part, a vivid portrait of our troops’ experiences there, from the constant fear of attack to the “profanity will not be tolerated” sign that hangs in the hanger where Kathy delivers her act and calls Iraq a “shithole.”

Kathy is completely herself throughout the whole trip, having Matt do her hair while staying in one of Saddam’s former palaces, noting her D-list status when she’s ignored, and joking constantly. Thus, she’s an excellent lens for us to see what American (and Iraqi) men and women go through on a daily basis. As Kathy said, “It’s scary enough for us to imagine being attacked, but the soldiers have to deal with it on a daily basis, which is pretty incredible when you think about it.”

After visiting Kuwait, Kathy, Matt, Michael McDonald, and Karri Turner from JAG traveled to Tikrit, and then to Baghdad. They visit wounded soldiers in a hospital, including one whose fiance and best friend were killed while he was walking alongside them. The whole trip comes off as slightly self-congratulatory, because they’re crediting themselves with being the only bright spot in the soldier’s lives. But the soldiers seem to agree; one tells the camera that Kathy’s act was “highly inappropriate and hilarious–exactly what the soldiers needed.”

The visit is not apolitical, but whether you agree with Kathy Griffin’s politics or not, or whether you’re one of the 15 people who still thinks the war was a good idea or not, her visit is insightful and revealing. As Kathy said during last week’s episode, “The more I’m in an actual war zone, the more it’s just ugly. It’s not cool, it’s not a Toby Keith song, it’s not opening up a can of whoop-ass. It’s just horrible. I don’t know. Is it really worth losing so many of our own?”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.