One of the most unlikely—on paper, anyway—regulars at the Emmy party the last few years has been the infamously outspoken Kathy Griffin and her cheeky Bravo docu-reality series My Life on the D-List. Including this year, it has been nominated five times for Outstanding Reality Program and won twice. This year, her hefty and relatively high-minded competition includes Antiques Roadshow, Dirty Jobs, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Mythbusters and CBS hit Undercover Boss.
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What's a loudmouthed Hollywood hanger-on doing in such august company? Tune in to this week's episode, and the mystery will be solved. As if Frank Capra had come back to earth to direct a Very Special Episode of AbFab, this inspiring and irreverent hour finds Griffin putting aside her marketing of her mother Maggie's "drinking blanket" for a higher purpose: staging a rally in Washington, D.C. to urge the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy. (Lest you think she's a dilettante in such matters, she has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to meet and entertain the troops, highlights of which have been featured in past seasons.)
Her latest adventure begins when the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group gives her an "Ally for Equality" award and she meets with gay members of the military, who reveal to her (with faces unseen) their feelings about homophobia in the ranks, fears of violence and pragmatic concerns about loss of benefits stemming from this "sanctioned bigotry." They seem confident, though, that the policy's days are numbered.
"What makes you optimistic?" Griffin wonders. "People like you," says one of the soldiers.
For once, Griffin is rendered temporarily speechless. But that doesn't last long.
Before you know it, Team Griffin is taking it to the streets of D.C., arranging meetings with Congressional bigwigs while getting a very proper lesson in media training. For Kathy Griffin? I'd say "don't make me laugh," but I'm talking D-List here, so all bets are off.
Forbidden to swear or mention body parts in her public speaking, Griffin mans up to make this "gigantic sacrifice" for her country. Her meeting with a gruff Barney Frank ("He's one of my gays, right?") is a study in contrasts. "He doesn't care about Liza Minnelli? How is this guy even gay?" When she gives an interview to a very literal political reporter, who quotes her verbatim calling House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn a "big queen," Griffin must think about repealing her own policy: "No apology for jokes."
Idealism with a dose of "Kathy-tude": That's D-List at its best. Laugh and learn. Who says reality TV isn't good for you?
My Life on the D-List airs Tuesday, 10/9c, on Bravo.