I think we tend to forget how many shows are reality based...Cops, Real World, Road Rules...the old timers still hanging around today...and we're really just adding to them for each area of interest, each uniquely different for each unique demographic.
I don't watch all that much TV but if I'm going to devote an hour or so to it I'm not going to watch people be stupid for money. . . . . . I run down to local corporate headquarters for that!
I guess watching reality TV is in some ways a trip to voyeurism
That's what's so creepy about it to me. That it is voyeuristic. I feel squirmy and ashamed, like we're witnessing things about people that we shouldn't. On the one hand, if it truly is real then it truly is twisted but on the other hand, if it's a scam and they really are just actors playing parts, how insulting is that??
The only part of Joe Millionaire I saw, because it was on Entertainment Tonight (a show I've watched for years but now working on weaning myself from it) was when he and the chick of the week took a walk in the woods and they showed their kissing and slurping in subtitles on the screen.
I'd never seen anything more asinine in my life.
in subtitles??!! oh my...glad I missed that one.
Regarding the icky feeling..I dont have that...I think cuz I figure these people signed up for this stuff...their problem if they didnt think bad stuff would show...hello!
actors, edited, scripted, whatever....Im sure theres lots more we dont see, and its probably nice stuff..thats entertainment for you!
Do real people really watch these shows?
Explain "real people". Of course people watch those shows or they would die on the vine. The question is why they would want to.
Some of 'em. Like quinn said, I'm most comfortable with the ones where people know what they're in for and if they're humiliated, it's their own damn fault. But I have my limits even there -- we came across some piece of tripe called "Elimidate" which was just painful. It's some version of MTV's "Dismissed", with 4 (yes 4) women competing for a guy all at the same time. (I don't know if they do it vice versa, too.) Trashy trashy trashy. I read an interview with the guy from "Insomniac" in the Onion recently and he said he won't put on the really stupid drunks since he knows what that is like to be drunk and then see yourself when sober. I really wish the producers of "Elimidate" had been so kind to one of the contestants. Yoiks. Turned it off after about 3 minutes of grimacing and eye-shielding.
Get Real With Reality TV
The old adage, "The box office never lies," has proved true again with news that more than 40 million TV viewers tuned in to watch the finale of "Joe Millionaire." That's a larger Nielsen rating than any entertainment program since last year's Oscars. And it produced a tankful of water-cooler conversation.
Indeed, many Americans are in love with these "reality" shows, even while commenting on their absurdity, self-humiliation, and poor taste. But with some 22 new reality shows expected later this year, viewers should ask if they want their airwaves turned into mere spectacle, a Roman circus of the most bizarre.
Take "Fear Factor," where contestants eat bizarre animal parts. Or "Are You Hot," where contestants parade more than half naked before judges to be given scores for their physical appeal. Or "Amazing Race: Man vs. Beast," which featured an elephant competing with 44 dwarves to see which side can pull the most weight.
Looking back at "Survivor," the genesis of this genre, TV's rapid descent into darkness is clear.
That many reality shows now are mired in litigation is itself a telling development. Some have been sued for defamation of character, invasion of privacy, emotional and physical abuse, or even rigging of results.
What helps drive these shows is that they can cost about half of a typical hour-long TV drama or sitcom (although they're less likely to be syndicated). Lost, though, in the focus on the business bottom line, is an emphasis on the art and craft of television. Witty writers who helped propel sitcoms and drama aren't part of this new reality mix.
Still, what reality programs do offer, despite their often abhorrent form, is a fairly high degree of authenticity. Studies have shown that Americans long for that quality in public life, in politics, and business, and now, apparently, in television entertainment. "American Idol," Fox's recent wildly successful talent show offers proof of that. It's alive with natural folksiness. PBS offers similar authentic fare with "This American House," dropping ordinary people into extraordinary periods of American history to experience life in different ways.
The emergence of a new, quasi-improvisational form of entertainment with no professional actors, even if in unreal situations, is an important TV evolution to note.
When such shows reach for authenticity with the deeper realities of wit, style, and taste, the result can be a true addition to the storytelling possibilities of television.
If there were any wit, style, or taste in these programs, I would watch them. Let me know if you spot any.