Three cheers for public television's criticism of realty TV shows. (See the story here.) I couldn't agree more.
Yes these shows are inexpensive and I get that watching them is similar to driving by a car accident. We can't help but look. However, we are fast approaching the point where there is nothing to view but accidents. There is no history on The History Channel. Bravo, once a fine arts channel, offers little that can be called art. And The Learning Channel? Puleeze. All I can learn there is that some people will do anything, including humiliate themselves and their families, to get on television.
All the shows look the same. The scripts may move housewives or realtors or tattoo artists to other cities but the plots still focus on people yelling at or cheating one another. It's all so boring. Instead of throwing Christians to the lions, we toss a bride into a competition for the best reception.
Make no mistake. Reality television is scripted. Not in the sense that lines are memorized, but the situations and general tone of the shows are carefully planned. Think all these large families can just run off to Florida on a whim? Release forms and other legal hurdles must be obtained before filming can begin. When and where the film crew will be must be decided in advance. None of a reality show just happens. Therefore, it isn't real. (I am not referring to competition programming that requires real skill
from both competitors and judges. Those programs have their own
Knowing it isn't "real" is how we justify watching but entertainment says a lot about us. That these reality shows are what we accept or want makes me sad. What behaviors are we condoning for ourselves and our children? What are our children learning from watching this programming? What are we communicating to them?
The next time you are tempted to watch one of these programs, think about what you will take away from it. Will you be truly entertained or are you just killing time? Will you learn anything? Will you improve as a person? Will you relax and feel good?
Something to think about the next time you are tempted to view some child pitching a fit or an adult throwing a tantrum. By watching, you are supporting and condoning it. Is that something that you mean to do?