(un) Reality Shows

One of the big things in the last few years in TV land has been the advent of “reality” shows.  These shows seem to have gained a lot of popularity, which is great for the production studios, mainly because they are cheap to make.

There seem to be a couple of types of reality shows.  The “original” type is shot on location, with little or no script, capturing people doing something interesting or risky.  Examples would be “Dirty Jobs”, “Extreme home makeover”, “The Dog Whisperer”, “Salon Takeover”, “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, “The Apprentice”, or “Property Virgins”.

Here’s a dirty little secret about these shows, for those of you who aren’t already aware: They are fake.  Yes! It’s true! I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  I didn’t just read this somewhere, I was involved in the shooting of one of these for Animal Planet.  The scenario was manufactured, the scenes were set up minutes before shooting them, and there was precious little “reality” going on.

Another type is what I call the “staged” reality shows where it’s set in a studio of some type and they have “regular folk” appearing to provide the reality part.  Examples would be “Dancing With The Stars”, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, and “American Icon”.  If you think about it, “game shows” dating back to the ‘60s fit into this category.  So really, these are not “reality shows”, but just modern “game shows”.

Actual movies, or shows with a plot and card-carrying actors/actresses are a lot more time and trouble (and money) to make.  Personally, I think it’s worth the effort.  I find them much more entertaining.  I’m quite bored with the whole “reality” genre.

I frequently wonder when these boring reality shows will fall out of favor.  I mean, the networks usually cancel any decent series, so why not cancel a few of these duds?  For example, “Firefly” was a really unique show.  It had great writing, and a large, vocal, well organized viewer base who made it known to the studio how much they enjoyed the show and so forth.  Did it run for years then? Nope, it got cancelled after one season.  This seems to happen quite often, with shows running for multiple seasons and you are left scratching  your head and wondering “why would they keep THAT one?”


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