Friday, December 17, 2004

Another Rant Against Reality TV

When did reality become T.V.
What ever happened to sitcoms, game shows...
("1985" by Bowling for Soup)

I have become convinced that this cycle towards so-called reality television is the nadir of broadcast history. The other day I was watching the news and I saw an ad for a show called The Will. The concept of The Will is that a family of potential heirs will compete for the head of the household's fortune. Yes, that's right. It is a show in which family members will backstab each other just to get included in a parent's will. Now I am aware that this probably does happen in real life (not in my family, but it probably does in others), but at least it does not get broadcast.

What is worse is that The Will is only the latest in a long line of exploitative reality shows. The Biggest Loser appeared to have a somewhat noble premise. It followed a group of people as they sought to lose weight. Unfortunately, it was executed with the typical exploitation of most reality shows. In one episode they exposed the poor folks to a mountain of treats--something like exposing a recovering achoholic to a beer truck. In another the poor folks were forced to make cupcakes or some other treat that they were expressly forbidden to eat. Now I am not overweight and I don't love eating that much, but I have been addicted to cigarettes. To expose these poor people to the very temptations they are trying to overcome is nothing short of sadistic in my opinion.

The Biggest Loser aired on NBC, which also showed The 25 Million Dollar Hoax. The premise of this show was that a young woman had to convince her family that she had won a sweepstakes--the catch is that she could share any of the "winnings" with her family. If she pulled off the hoax, the family actually won a fortune. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I cannot accept a show that encourages someone to deceive their family. Furthermore, I cannot accept a show in which relationships are strained because of a hoax.

As if these shows were not bad enough, they are only more in a long line of reality series that emphasise sadism or immoral behaviour. Temptation Island, Are You Hot?, The Ultimate Love Test...the list just goes on and on. In fact, the number of reality shows which do not engage in sadism, encouraging people to immorality, et. al., can probably be counted on one hand.

The good thing is that it seems to me that the reality cycle might well be ending. This season will see more reality shows air than any other. Usually a cycle peaks not long before it ends. It happened with the Westerns cycle of the Fifties and the spy cycle of the Sixties. If the reality cycle goes the way of most cycles, then, we might see very few to no reality shows on the air in the 2007-2008 season. I do hope that I am right.

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