I’ll never forget when I watched my first reality show on TV. It was Eco-Challenge on some obscure cable channel, and it was the astounding feat of teamwork and individual determination on the part of the contestants that kept my husband and me glued. These teams of people had to trek across treacherous terrain, over a period of days, using all their skills and then some. We’re talking extreme expedition here. And they had all been training for quite a while for this event. It was utterly fascinating to watch their trials and tribulations as they carried on or dropped out due to injury or succumbing to the whispers of failure.
Hubbie and I were sold on this show, and looked forward to watching more of it. It never surfaced again, but the producer did. He went on to produce Survivor! And so reality TV took off in the mainstream. As with all good things though, others come along to sour our impression, to sully the original, and to leave a bad taste in our mouths for the whole genre.
I’m talking about the myriad of reality shows that are out there these days that glorify the basest of human behavior, and shoot to stardom people who would otherwise be invisible to anyone outside their carefully constructed cocoons. It’s gotten to the point where I see a show and say to myself, “If this is reality, I think I’m going to go live in dreamland!”
It’s true! Fiction is more “real” these days than reality! Many of these people who star in reality shows have become ridiculous caricatures of themselves. And the people who create these shows are either geniuses at reading societal cues, or geniuses at swaying public desires, turning us all into Peeping Toms. Now I know, they’re laughing at me all the way to the bank, but I respond with, “What price, fame?” When the reality stars’ fifteen minutes are over, then what? For most it will mean a harsher reality, back to being invisible.
That’s the real “situation” …