TV - The New Reality
There are over 1,000 stations on TV but everyone complains there is nothing to watch! Have you seen the choices? Is it any wonder? Reality TV? They call that Entertainment? Are we entertaining ourselves with TV? It is after all free entertainment. Wordnetweb at Princeton defines entertainment as "an activity that is diverting and that holds the attention." One man's garbage is another man's treasure! So what I consider entertainment you may not and vice versa. With so many different ways to watch TV from TV entertainment centers, flat screen tv's and good old fashioned tube TV's, why can't viewing get better too?
Wikopedia defines reality TV as "a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents, actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of dramatic actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded." Notice the word "purportedly" In other words they're supposed to be unscripted but we all know that more than likely they are not. Documentaries can fall into the realm of Reality TV but that is certainly not what I am looking at here. What about "Cops" or "Ice Road Truckers"?
Okay, I get the contest reality TV. No one is claiming to act on those shows, they are competing on a game show like The Amazing Race. True, it is a little different than the game shows we are used to. You can't compare it to TV's first game show, $64,000 Question, I don't believe a TV game show scandal like that has ever been repeated. The Amazing Race definitely doesn't follow any game show patterns we know, it was something totally new. Think about The Price is Right or even Minute to Win It...no Amazing Race qualities there. However, there are people out there who enjoy watching a bunch of couples race around the world doing impossibly ridiculous stunts while also trying to outdo their competitors to win money. At least they have pit stops and clues to follow. How far would you go to win $1,000,000? Food for thought.
The talent reality shows are more understandable. Everyone wants a crack at being famous or following their dream. Some of the beginning contestants, however, are either hard of hearing or really living on another planet if they think they have talent. Just watch American Idol's first couple of shows when they are narrowing down the contestants. Sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic, other times just ridiculous and embarrassing. However, it has become America's favorite show and provided us with the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Of course American's Got Talent opens up the competition to all types of acts. These shows are popular, pointing out that Americans are looking for something different and perhaps new talent as well and fortunately these shows have helped find some new, excellent talent.
America's Got Talent - Jackie Evancho
The Bachelor is a true treat. Who wouldn't want to have all those beautiful girls to choose from? Wouldn't you want to choose your life partner in front of an entire camera crew in front of who knows how many people watching the show, from a pool of 25 girls selected for you and with a time limit? This is the Dating Game gone reality show. The girls spend their time cutting each other down in an attempt to win the Bachelor. This must be the new way to find your mate. Of course you could always let the public make your decision by checking Facebook. The results of this show are never really lasting relationships, hmm.
Take Kim Kardashian, please. This beautiful woman's claim to fame is a reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The show is a success so it must be a good thing, except nobody knows what these girls do. The show is a blended family but the main characters are the Kardashian sisters, mother and step-father Bruce Jenner. Someone suggested they are today's version of the Gabor sisters - living the wild life, the life of the rich and famous, and young single girls. They don't seem to have any purpose and don't believe in ever suffering the consequences of their actions. The show is popular among women 18 - 34. Maybe that's why it doesn't appeal to me, I'm too old. The scariest thing of all is that young girls look up to these people and try to emulate them. If you've missed any of the episodes and you are really interested in seeing them you can buy the DVD or find episodes all over the Internet. I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention Jersey Shore. There are millions of teenagers walking around emulating Snookie. Although there are seven other residents, Snooki has been the standout and for various reasons from good to bad.
Are all reality shows bad? You can never generalize in that way. First of all, what is bad to me may be good to you so this is written more from my perspective. Sticking with reality TV but looking in a different direction, what about make over shows like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover - not home edition, What Not To Wear, and so on. Who wouldn't want to go on TV and have all their faults flaunted and corrected at no charge? The Biggest Loser is sometimes hard to watch but the last episode is truly heart wrenching. You can't help but cheer for everyone on the show and what a great job they did. Extreme Makeover is like a Hollywood miracle. I wonder how they do that much in that short time? Another quick question to ponder, what do these shows tell our young people?
Speaking of Extreme Makeover, what about the show that builds fabulous homes for the deserving few who are so busy or in debt from medical bills that they can't take care of their homes? We all cry hearing their stories and wish them the best in their new, huge, beautiful homes. I wonder how they take care of these homes after the cameras stop rolling. The Washington Post tells of one family that had their new, makeover home auctioned off on the County Courthouse steps! USA News says some of these homes are for sale because they owners can't afford to pay the taxes and or the utilities. Another home in Arizona is up for foreclosure. Zillow.com has links to some of the homes that are for sale.I think the makeovers may be overkill. Maybe scaling down the size and eccentricities of the homes they build would make them more affordable.
Some reality TV lets you follow other people's lives day after day. I would love to live at the Jersey Shore but certainly not with the group that live there in the tv show of the same name. I adore Ozzie and his family but watching their reality show makes me wonder... Of course there's Pawn Stars and now the new spate of reality tv that follows buyers around - buying antiques, buying contents of storage sheds, you name it, they buy it. Is reality TV better than fantasy?
Storage Wars vs Auction Hunters
Reality TV isn't all we have however. Good old fashioned soap operas are still available during the day and now, at night as well. Of course most daytime soaps are disappearing - exit As the World Turns and soon All My Children. Desperate Housewives is a true nighttime soap opera about a small Tennessee town. All the soap opera elements are there, I should know, I watch it every week. Love, deception, cheating, murder, lying, all make a good soap opera. One week you laugh another you cry. You get to know all the characters but just when you think you know them a surprise comes up showing you they aren't the person you thought they were. Gabby's secret about her childhood abuse was a real eye opener, a tear jerker of course. Beth's suicide was no surprise to most, since that's the life of a soap opera actor. Desperate Housewives isn't the only evening soap. Brothers and Sisters, and The Gilmore Girls are other examples. If you look to HBO and Showtime the history of soaps has been upheld! The Sopranos ran for 8 years on HBO. Then there are doctor shows. Who doesn't love Grey's Anatomy with all its good looking guys and romances - McSteamy and McDreamy, or House? How about the new show, Body of Proof with Dana Delaney? Don't overlook the reality doctor shows that are truly informative and educational. Dr. Oz is number one in a lot of daytime households and the four doctors on The Doctors and their different specialties has put them right up there with Dr. Oz. There's even a Doctors Channel!
Lest we forget, our beloved comedy show is not dead yet. Nighttime TV brings us new comedy shows at every turn. While we have been watching the Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men new comedy shows have arrived to the tune of Mike & Molly and Mr. Sunshine. Late night TV talk shows are filled with comedy even when they may not want to be. To digress a moment, while Two and a Half Men has been canceled, its star Charlie Sheen, continues to provide us with pathetic real life comedy as we watch himself destruct.
Law and Order survives in Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, Blue Bloods and don't forget the new and improved Hawaii Five-O. What about The Mentalist and Castle? The main characters aren't cops but the rest of the show follows suit and it's their job, well sort of, to help the cops find the bad guy. Another twist to the original cop show is Criminal Minds which delves more into the why as it tries to find the criminal. Forensics is more involved now than ever before.
Now we have the Cooking Network. Not just the Galloping Gourmet on once a week but an entire network filled with cooks and chefs showing us how to cook, what to eat and where to eat. Here the cooking shows range from absurd, to humorous, to serious. From Two Fat Ladies to Rachel Ray. You can learn to cook American, Chinese, Indian, Southern, French, Italian, any genre or style you want. You can watch other people travel the world looking for the famous and the best restaurants. There are 'cooking shows' that travel the country or the world looking for the best or the biggest on the menu. Then there's finally cooking shows for men whose time has come since most chefs in the past were men.
The talk show is still around both in daytime and nighttime TV from Jay Leno to Ellen Degeneres. You can find family shows peppered throughout and on the Disney Family Channel. There's a SciFi Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet....
Did I say there is nothing on TV?
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