(blog post from ThankQ.me)
I hate reality shows. I hate them like Lindsay Lohan hates rehab. Yet, I’m not only surrounded by reality shows, but I’m also surrounded by people who watch them.
Now, I will admit that I watched some reality shows back in the day when they were new. Years before they littered my TV guide on my DirecTV receiver. I watched “Real World: Hawaii” and wondered how in the world someone like Ruthie Alcaide (I wonder if she’s related to Tiger) would ever live to the age of 30 at the rate she partied.
I watched Richard Hatch walk naked on an island and win a million dollars on the first “Survivor” and fail to report it for tax purposes later. I also watched Reuben Studdard win the second season of “American Idol” after the show changed the rules and allowed Clay Aiken to return after being eliminated.
So, I can honestly say that “I’ve tried”. But no more. I can’t bare to watch a season of anything deemed as a “reality show” other than “Cops”. Because it didn’t take me long at all to realize that they’re far from real.
Now, back in the “Real World” days, reality shows felt real. The show was designed to take several young and volatile people and put them in close quarters. It’s only natural, like lab rats, that something was going to “pop off” as Tanisha from “The Bad Girls Club” once yelled. It wasn’t truly a “real life” situation, but the reactions to what was going on seemed genuine.
Today, things are a little different. The attitudes and confrontations aren’t always (if ever) even slightly real. They’re scripted. Manufactured just like the weave that all of the “Flava of Love” women wear.
Because of this, people now go on “A.I.” and sing as horribly as they possibly can in an attempt to earn themselves 15 minutes of fame. Did Larry Platt really think that singing “Pants on the Ground” would get him to Hollywood? And why did “A.I.” let a 60-something year old even participate on a show with an age limit? Because it was entertaining and that’s all that matters. FOX doesn’t care if the show comes off as real or not. They only want people to watch it and discuss it at work tomorrow.
That’s why broadcasters use a new math when it comes to creating shows:
Attitude equals ratings: Omarosa Manigault or Tiffany “New York” Pollard
Controversy equals ratings: Kim Kardashian or Ray J
Sex appeal equals ratings: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino or Parvati Shallow
Acting a fool equals ratings: Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi or (insert Real Housewife here)
The bottom line is: it doesn’t have to be real for us to watch it. We watch it because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We watch it because we love to see other people with problems. Or, if you’re like me, you watch “The Soup” for comedic effect.
But, what about the people who can’t seem to separate entertainment from the real world? What about the people who clutter their bodies with tattoos because of what they see in a music video? What about the women who pose pigeon-toed/or do the peace sign and pouty lips in every Facebook photo because they saw it on TV first?
My parents taught me at an early age that TV wasn’t real. I remember the day I found out wrestling was fake. I think I was about seven years old. It changed my perspective on it which eventually led to me to not watch it on a weekly basis as I once did. Sure, I can still watch a few minutes of it now and then because the sheer athleticism that some of those wrestlers have are amazing. But you won’t see it in the Series Manager of my DVR. But, when I’m flipping channels and catch a glimpse of WWE, I see an arena filled with paying fans. All of them screaming for what a majority realize is fake. It makes me sit back and put things in perspective a bit. Why are they actively participating in something that everyone knows isn’t real? Then it dawns on me:
One purpose of TV is to entertain, right? To take you away from your life and allow you to peek in on someone else’s. Have I’ve forgotten that? Am I so cynical now that I can’t even enjoy watching TV?
Maybe reality shows aren’t just a cheap way for broadcasters to fill their time slots. And I do mean “cheap”! Snooki, one of the higher paid reality stars gets $30,000 per episode for “Jersey Shore” while Charlie Sheen, a real actor, once raked in $1.8 million per episode for “Two and A Half Men”. I guess if I owned a TV station and had a choice at those rates, I’d fill my line-up with reality shows, too!
Maybe I’m reading too much into the fact that reality shows are exploding on VH1 and MTV where my music videos used to reside. I guess as long as you’re entertained, who cares if the show is real or not?
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