Alibi V.26 No.46 • Nov 16-22, 2017 

Idiot Box

Kitty Litter

“Meow Manor” on UP

Television serves many purposes. Sometimes it entertains us. Sometimes it educates us. Sometimes it anesthetizes us. Sometimes it confuses the hell out of us. “Meow Manor” is a stupidly/brilliantly minimalist new show on UP. Formerly known as—I swear—Gospel Music Television, UP is the basic cable network dedicated to providing “feel good TV shows and movies for your whole family.” So what is there to feel good about here? Well, let’s just say that if you watch Animal Planet’s “Kitten Bowl” every year, unironically and not just during Super Bowl half-time, then this one is aimed squarely at you.

The television equivalent of an adorable screen saver, “Meow Manor” consists of several cameras stationed around a large, dollhouse-like structure. Inside, are three kittens. The kittens do kitten things—running, batting thing around, climbing on the tiny furniture. For an hour. That’s it. Honestly. Occasionally, a “narrator” pops up to dispense various feline-based puns. “Things got a little catty while you were away,” he might quip, by way of example. That’s pretty much the show in a nutshell. If you love “Big Brother” but wish it were filled with kittens instead of meathead frat boys and drunk girls in bikinis, then “Meow Manor” is right up your alley.

Watching an hour a week of kittens frolicking not enough for you? Don’t panic, You can catch the live, 24-hour feed of “Meow Manor” on uptv.com. Given that cats sleep about 15 hours a day, however, it’s not too likely you’ll see much action on the live feed—as opposed to the “best of” clip show that is “Meow Manor.” This is basically “must watch TV” for crazy cat ladies who have had their pets taken away by the county.

So... yeah. Cats + cameras = TV show. If all of this sounds deeply weird, rest assured that it is. But there’s a vague sort of madness behind it all. “Meow Manor” is actually an Icelandic webcam series. It was started by an animal shelter known as the Icelandic Cat Protection Society, which hooked up with a local news site (nutiminn.is) to livestream video of some homeless cats. Over in Iceland, it’s called “Keeping Up with the Kattarshians” (no, really), and it’s been running for seven seasons. The felines stay in the faux house until they are adopted and replaced by a new set of furry residents. The roots of “Meow Manor” show through in the names of the current cats (Grimur Grimisson, Ólafia and Pawel) and in the logos that decorate the Meow Manor itself (gaeludir.is, which sells... something Icelandic).

Depending on your insane dedication to all things catlike, “Meow Manor” is either a Zen-like dose of calming cuteness or a maddening torture test of “what the hell am I watching?” To put it in terms “Meow Manor” understands, the show is either “claw-some” or “claw-ful.”

“Meow Manor” airs Wednesdays at 6pm on UP.