Terrifying Offer of the Week

From an ad for the book Love Smart:

Ready to Star in Your Own Life?
Dr. Phil has written the script.

(Um, thanks, but I think I'd prefer something by Ionesco, or even Mamet.)

I should note that I came across this ad while reading--yes, it's true--O, the Oprah Magazine. For some reason, O has fascinated me for years now, though I only ever picked it up in the gym or during an airport layover when I could no longer bear the weight of The New Yorker and couldn't quite dip down to Us Weekly. But now I have my very own subscription, which somehow feels vaguely illicit.

It's a fascinating magazine. I assume that a good chunk of the readership also watches Oprah, which would suggest that a fair number of these women are stay-at-home moms with varying levels of disposable income. Yet O is *full* of products presented as "A few things Oprah thinks are just great" that seem well beyond the reach of many working families. These include a $200 Kate Spade gardening bag, $32 plates (yes, per), and $35 sets of cheese spreaders.

Perhaps the idea here is that there's a chunk of the magazine's audience who can easily afford all of these things (along with the heart-droppingly spendy purses, clothes, and shoes); a chunk who can shell out for a few of them; and a chunk for whom the magazine's product sections are purely aspirational.

Or maybe I'm the only one who finds a $168 t-shirt a ludicrous proposition, in which case I will vow from now on to avoid "The O List" and stick instead to Dr. Phil's tooth-achingly treacly column, Suze Orman's tough-love, you-go-girl financial advice, and the various other features of this rag that have such a mysterious draw for me.