Confessions of a Reality TV Viewer

Quote of the Day: "This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real." -- The Real World

As part of my addiction to pop culture, I confess that I watch reality television. Although reality TV is arguably a newer genre, it has actually been around for quite some time. The success of Survivor which began in 2000 is probably the key moment that made unscripted programming a major force in entertainment, but MTV had the hit The Real World starting in 1992. (The producers of Survivor also claim to have developed the concept for their survival competition in 1992).

But it all actually started way back in 1976 with Battle of the Network Stars. Then we had Star Search in 1983. The so-called reality genre never really was absent from the television scene, it just took the slew of recent Survivor copy cats to turn the format into an avalanche (and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to prove that game shows and other genres could draw audiences in prime time, breaking the monopoly of scripted sitcoms and dramas.)

Now, my wife and I watch American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and Big Brother. We tune in to America's Got Talent and even guiltier pleasures like Paradise Hotel, The Mole, and (don't tell anyone) Temptation Island. Other reality shows I've watched faithfully include The Amazing Race, The Contender, The Apprentice, Surreal Life, and (don't laugh) Who Wants to Be a Superhero.

When will my embarrassing obsession with these shows end? The worst reality show of all was The Lot. It had an interesting premise, offering aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to make short films and compete for a chance to make it in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg was one of the producers. It turned out to be a boring mess.

Even I won't watch every reality show out there. I've never watched The Bachelor or The Biggest Loser or others. There's just too many others out there. The TV schedule is loaded with them.

Please do not judge me negatively or question my taste because so many reality shows are on my TiVo. (I judge and question myself about it all the time.) I honestly also watch sitcoms, and dramas, and more serious documentaries if that maybe neutralizes the harm that reality shows have done to my brain and soul. But the contrived drama and often unintentional humor of these programs somehow manages to draw me in.


Peter said…
Survivor was interesting and wrenching for me. I do however, prefer Americal Idol and Britain's Got Talent! All seasons!