I haven't quite "gotten" the definition of reality television. Here are some things I think are criteria, though:
- Must not use actors (though the people starring in each program arguably want to be actors)
- Must allow for many possibilities and an air of unpredictability
- Must seem to be a lot like home movies, only slightly more coherent
- Must dramatize otherwise boring elements of life
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies show blah blah blah blah blah...that's why you should start your day with Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal..."All of this is said with the product facing the camera and the trainers lecturing a group of contestants who are trying to look interested and are trying not to smirk. STUPID! They also invited a psychotherapist (Jillian's mom) to interview each person on camera, make a snap diagnosis and tell them how to fix what was standing in the way of their weight loss. Ugh. Stupid. I stopped watching it until the finale (because I was dying to see who won).
These shows are heavily edited to make some people look better than others. Some people are made to look like villains, just for the sake of drama. The contracts the contestants sign are tighter than they were in the beginning. They preclude the contestant from suing for defamation or from leaking any information on who might win the contest.
We also watched Survivor the first couple of times it was on. It's a show that drops a group of contestants into a remote location with very little in the way of survival tools. BUT that show soon became nothing more than a very early version of Fear Factor (simply a gross out show), and a magnet for wannabe actors. So we stopped watching that, too. Many, many other reality shows began to spring up after Survivor, which was arguably the first one. Most of them are just awful (have you seen Big Brother? Give me a break!).
Some are kind of funny. Nanny 911 features British professional nannies being sent in to help very stupid parents who are in over their heads to get a grip on their little monsters. I kind of like that one, but I can't watch it if I have a headache because of the inevitably screaming kids. I saw an episode the other day in which a woman was paying more attention to her pot-bellied pig, who was living inside and would sometimes go after the kids, than to her children. Her kids would often eat out of the pig's food bowl, and one of the little girls would fling her poo across the room or smear it onto her parents in the middle of the night. And they didn't know how to handle it???!!!!
The one that really takes the cake, though, is Rock of Love. Bret Michaels, the lead singer for the band Poison (which had its heyday 20 years ago) appears as himself, looking for love. A bunch of trashy girls are paraded around in front of him in skimpy, trashy outfits, and they have to compete to go on dates with him. That's all I know about it, other than that Michaels has to wear a colorful head scarf to hide his rapidly receding hairline. My daughter turns this show on while I'm trying to work, and I hate it. Since she's moving out this week, I will no longer be subjected to such drivel.
Yesterday, as I was trying to get a few things done, I could hear the show in the background. Some (excuse my language) little whore was on a date with him and couldn't wait to tell him that she wasn't wearing any underwear. She revealed it like this, before they ordered dinner, "I feel I have to tell you this. I'm not wearing any underwear." Then the camera cuts to an interview with Michaels after the fact, talking about the date. "That's the sexiest thing you can say to a guy," he said. "It was like 'cha-ching'!" I found myself wondering if he meant "SCHWING!" like in Wayne's World. It's bad when the dumb rock star is so dumb he can't even get the cliches or idioms right. Of course, then the couple connected on a physical level (their words, not mine) and got to know each other a little better.
I don't understand it. I don't even know how this stuff gets on television. I think some of it must be on because everyone loves a train wreck. They can't stop looking. It's ridiculous though. I wondered, when I was a kid, what would be on television if we had the hundreds of channels they predicted we would someday have. Now I know. Channels and channels of drivel, dumbed down "reality" shows, and phony trials in front of a TV judge.
Some of my home movies are truly better than what's on television. I don't care for reality TV on the whole. Some of it has been alright, particularly in the beginning, but now I'm ready for some good old fashioned programming.
Ah yes. LOST will be back on Thursday!
Peace - D