Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Dose of Reality

Is there a way out of this “reality” mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? Not real reality. Not the reality of high unemployment rates, or the reality of the ongoing “war on terror”, or even the reality our collapsing social security and health care systems. I mean the Reality TV mess. The reality of Dancing With The Stars. Are so many stars forced into dancing because we no longer tune in to see them act? And I’m not anti-Reality TV, just wondering if maybe we’ve let things go too far when there’s a reality show of Tommy Lee Goes To College!

I think we can all agree on how this started. It started with the Mother of American Reality TV – Survivor. And just so you can see me straddling the fence (not barbed-wire, I hope) I will admit that I love Survivor. Sometimes. I can’t handle twenty straight seasons of anything, not even my own life. I didn’t watch Survivor from the beginning. I was skeptical. Not because I knew it would lead to Pimp My Ride and The Simple Life, but because I thought the casts of Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond were doing a great job. Why would I want to watch regular guys get progressively filthier while risking their lives when I could watch Dr. John Carter, played by the clean and handsome Noah Wyle, saving others’ lives? But at some point, feeling unfulfilled after Dr. Doug Ross’ disappearance from ER, I gave it a shot. And along with a few other Americans, I liked it.

But it didn’t stop there, did it? Suddenly, guys like Frasier and Ed had to call it a night because the world would rather watch carefully chosen idiots eat cockroaches, trade spaces, live in a house with a bunch of strangers, and not parent their own children. And maybe there was a need in American culture not being met before American Idol, but what was lacking that we needed full access to Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica or Ice Road Truckers? And why do housewives in Cleveland, Ohio need to watch housewives in New Jersey? ABC is already paying the ones on Wisteria Lane to entertain them.

The problem is more and more shows seem to be catering to niche markets, like Project Runway, Ghost Hunters, 19 and Counting! Let’s hope 19 and Counting is a niche market. And then there are reality shows that could help Americans, like The Biggest Loser or What Not to Wear. But I’m afraid that the majority of Americans aren’t watching for inspiration. They’re watching for entertainment, clothed in Wal-Mart tracksuits, and eating a sleeve of chocolate chips cookies as they do so.

1 comment:

  1. that's so funny about the Walmart tracksuits... I was just telling my mom how Stacey and Clinton would be horrified to know how often I go to CostCo or the grocery store after a morning at the gym, all sweaty, un-made-up, and in my exercise clothes.