We’re told Reality TV is reality, but it’s as scripted and manufactured as any episode of True Blood or Dexter or Mad Men. Except nowhere near as good. Those shows have vampires, serial killers and far better looking people. Watch them instead.
You don’t believe me? You think that because it’s reality, it’s unpredictable and a true reflection of real life? Rubbish. Each Reality TV series has exactly the same storyline.
A group of people have a dream: chef, renovator, singer, husband, wife, dancer, losing weight, etc.
Challenges, eliminations, rules, judges and other halfwit contestants provide obstacles to that dream.
Further drama is imposed by back-story, estranged family and suddenly changing the rules. Along with medical emergencies that could be easily remedied with a good lie down and not being a melodramatic moron.
The dream often isn’t even that hard to achieve. You want to be a chef? Get a job as an apprentice chef. Lose weight? Join a gym, get a personal trainer, eat less and exercise more. Renovate a house? Buy a run down one and get started.
What people on reality television really want is attention. Don’t give it to them. Restrict it to the people who deserve it. Like pop stars, sportspeople and serial killers.
Then what actually happens during the taping of a show often has very little to do with what ends up making it to television. Reality TV has nothing to do with reality, and much more to do with fitting the footage into a package that’s fit for television.
It’s exactly the same as the way Tony Abbott is asked what he really thinks about women, immigrants and the poor behind closed doors, and then in public, he’s never allowed to say any of it.
Politicians and Reality TV show judges have a surprising amount in common.
In order to make an episode of Reality TV, they record hours of footage over several days from multiple angles, and then pick out anything that could be a disaster, argument or crisis. Rarely is there more than one. Often there isn’t any, and it has to be invented.
Next this seemingly major event is used to structure the episode. The editors trawl through the footage for facial expressions, comments and body language that might look interesting. They take things out of context if required, in order to make the most of this perceived pivotal event, which was probably barely noticed during filming.
Teasers and previews of the event are replayed continuously. Through commercials, social media ads, stories on the nightly news and in newspapers, along with constant clips played during the episode itself.
What’s promised is a true game changer, something that alters everything that can’t be missed, and after which nothing will be the same. When it’s finally revealed during the last minutes of the episode, it’s always completely underwhelming.
Afterwards there is another promise of an unbelievable secret or crisis, to be unveiled next week, and which always turns out to be similarly disappointing.
If these shows were forced to match the enthusiasm they have for what is going to be revealed to what actually happens, the only thing they’d be allowed to show on the adverts is a shrug, and all the presenters would be replaced by mannequins.
Reality TV preys on our need to know. ‘Deal or No Deal’ is a game show that does this so well that it doesn’t even need questions. Thus eliminating the need for the audience to do any thinking at all.
Again and again Reality TV is the pretty blonde, showing us a case with a number and asking, ‘Do you want to know what’s inside?’ We keep coming back. Instead of holding on for another disappointing reveal we should be asking ourselves, ‘Who cares?’
So what’s the main reason Reality TV’s so popular? It’s cheap. Disgustingly, disgracefully, despicably cheap. Blame who you want for Reality TV but if we all stopped watching, then the cameras would stop rolling.
I’ve actually discovered something far superior to Reality TV. It’s very similar but you’re the star, and every plot line revolves around you.
It’s called reality.
You do need to go outside and interact with other people, and all that is a little intimidating at first, but stick with it. You won’t regret it, I promise.
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