Thursday, December 22, 2011

When WIll Reality End?

          I can't understand what the fascination is with reality television.  Only about a decade or so ago we hit a new beginning in television and it doesn't seem as though it will end any time soon.  If anything television is getting worse with every passing year.  I know some of you will say reality television started over twenty years ago with the premiere of Real World on MTV, and some will even say the beginning started in 1973 with the debut of An American Family on PBS; but those were just reality shows and they were unique in their time.  In 2000 there was a change, the change being not one or two, but several reality shows were now on a network and the numbers have grown since then.

         Years ago I could tune into the Discovery channel and watch an actual documentary about our planet.  I could watch E! and see actual news about movies, music, and theater.  Today I turn to those same channels and see American Chopper, The Kardashian's (which I still can't understand why they are popular), or just a typical reality show that has nothing to do with the actual channel they air on.  You can't even classify them as reality since a good deal of what you watch is set up to be more dramatic or comical, depending on the situation.

         Even the game show has evolved into a reality show, with all the drama and story lines that come with a written show.  The Amazing Race, Survivor, and Fear Factor are the new game shows that rule television; but why do we have to put all of the drama that usually goes with written stories  into these shows?  Shows like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire are but appetizers now for the game shows everyone waits for in primetime.

        Why do studios place these shows on the air you ask?  Because they are a bit cheaper to place on television compared to shows like Terra Nova or Fringe.  Reality television is a cheap way to make a buck for the producers.  I'm not saying all reality is terrible but it does seem to be a little out of hand.  We make people, who have no talent, into stars like the Kardashian's, Paris Hilton, and Spencer Pratt.  What is it about these people that we find so intriguing?  Is it because they're rich?  Is it because we wish we could have their lives?  Those are valid reasons but I don't plan on wasting my time watching someone else live their life.

        Talent shows, still considered a reality show according to Wikipedia, are what rule the airwaves today.  American, Idol, America's Got Talent, and The X Factor are what people flock to now.  They are entertaining and I applaud them for this one reason, because they are looking for talent that has been overlooked and are giving people a chance that wouldn't get one if it wasn't for the shows help.  Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Terry Fator, and Melanie Amaro (the first winner of the american version of The X Factor) wouldn't exist in the spotlight if it weren't for these shows.

        I do wish that one day some of these reality shows would disappear and maybe more sitcoms and hour long shows would return to the primetime line-up.  I probably won't get my wish but it's a nice thought.

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