Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reality? Bah!

My dislike of the entire genre of "reality" TV shows is reaching a fevered pitch. The longer they survive, the less reality is involved. Even shows I will watch, like "Deadliest Catch" are pissing me off. Who watches the really crappy shows like "The Bachelor", "Super Nanny" and "Big Brother"? And if you do - have you no shame? I know of no clearer demonstration of the decline of the human race than the rise and persistence of reality TV shows.

I'll speak plainly - these shows are to television as the WWE is to ancient Olympic wrestling.

It's hard for me to believe that the same industry that produced "Sopranos" and "X-Files" is happy making seven seasons of the "The Biggest Loser".

I do get the whole "they are cheaper to make" concept. I really do. But that is exactly what is now causing me to call bull crap. The latest round of reality shows have become more and more manipulated through editing and other post-production games. They are shooting more and more hours of film in order to edit it down into the fabricated storyline the show wishes to tell. The scenes are displayed out of sequence, out of context and with all vestiges of "reality" removed. Characters are born, drama is created and the heroes live to fight another day. What we are left with is a show that is as much fiction as a sitcom - but with really lousy actors.

I think what has sent me over the edge was a recent episode of "Deadliest Catch". The previews and commercials showed one of the main characters calling the Coast Guard on the radio, with a cut to a Coast Guard helicopter taking off from a frozen and ice-laden dock. Uh-oh - this is Big Trouble! As the episode progressed, the boat is shown laboring through increasingly dense ice flows when one of the main engines blows - oh crap! Of course, the very next scene shows them reaching the dock safe & sound. The Coast Guard? Oh yeah, that was actually a call made by the captain as he was *leaving* the dock (with his engines repaired) to ask the Coast Guard how far out from the harbor the ice went. The answer? "About a quarter mile." The next scene shows them happily steaming out of the harbor free of the ice. Umm - OK, I guess that was mildly entertaining, but this is the equivalent of a traffic jam caused by gawkers of a freeway accident hoping to see a dead body in the opposite lanes. You got me to look, but there was nothing to see.

Of course, this isn't really the first time reality shows have been on TV. Aren't game shows and talk shows really just another form of reality TV? We watch because we are hoping someone will do something incredibly stupid. Wasn't that the entire premise of "Let's Make A Deal"? Monty Hall picked the most outrageous person in the crowd, and we were all entertained by making fun of them as they were humiliated on national TV. Good clean (and cheap) fun.

What's really missing from today's reality shows is the reality. I say show 'em live and uncut. That's reality - the hours of boredom, the passive-aggressive relationships and the endless toil for very little gain. Yeah, right - I would rather watch "Wheel of Fortune".

My prediction? Reality TV "contestants" will eventually require a SAG card, and they will demand higher pay and royalties. Hopefully, that will mean the end of this nightmare.

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