I watch a fair amount of TV. There, I’ve said it and am ducking. Writers should read, right? (I do a fair bit of that, too… research, murder mysteries, magazines, newspapers.) Writers certainly shouldn’t rot their brains by doing anything so plebeian as watch TV, or if they do, they should watch Masterpiece Theatre, or something like that.
However, with a mind that is constantly working overtime, I find TV useful, because it allows my mind to ‘take a break’, meaning, I can relax and allow what I’m hearing and seeing to substitute – briefly – for my own racing imagination. It’s the ‘pause that refreshes’, I think.
And I like ‘reality’ TV. I’ve put ‘reality’ in quotes, because no, I am not so naive as to imagine that ‘reality’ TV is real.
First, what ‘reality’ TV do I like?
1 – Home reno, fix-it and gardening shows (Disaster DIY; Freestyle; How Not To Decorate; Design Star; Designed to Sell; Restaurant Makeover; Junk Brothers)
2 – Real Estate shows (House Hunters; Relocation, Relocation; Escape To The Country; Buy Me)
3 – Entertainment shows (Dancing With the Stars; America’s Got Talent; American Idol)
4 – Classic Reality, or Trainwreck TV (Survivor; Amazing Race; Big Brother)
And then there are lots of shows I enjoy that don’t have a discernible category… Pilot Guides, Antiques Roadshow, Food TV shows, and somehow, to my everlasting shame, I always end up watching The Bachelor/Average Joe type shows, which I suppose I should really categorize as ‘Train Wreck TV’, so bad you just can’t look away.
So, what’s ‘real’ about reality TV? Well, I do believe they use real people, because they certainly have open casting calls, but I’d be the first to admit that many of these shows, especially ‘classic’ reality TV like Survivor and Big Brother, cast a LOT of ‘TV star wannabes’. One recent moment on Big Brother 8, where Jessica is musing out loud with only the cameras watching about how they’re all plotting together against her screamed ‘soap opera wannabe‘ to me. Also, what they say on these shows is ‘real’, but I’m always mindful of the fact that the producers/editors/writers choose what to put on air, and that they have ‘storylines’ that they are furthering by airing certain things said/done while suppressing others.
So, given that, what do I like about it? I guess it’s all part of my fascination with people. These are real people interacting in sometimes weird and patently fake situations (how often have you been locked in a house with 11 strangers and made to compete to see if you eat real food or ‘slop for a weeks one end?) , and I find it endlessly interesting.
However… I have another confession while I’m at it. I’m a proud Canadian, but cannot abide Canadian Idol! (“Bad Canadian”, the ghost of Robertson Davies chides, rapping my knuckles with a ruler made out of Fraser fir… “you are henceforth sentenced to a month without maple syrup and one full weekend without Joni Mitchell songs!” No… noooo!) But really… Argh! What passes for talent on that *&%$#@ show sorely lacks – tho’ I know there are a lot of Canadians out there that are talented, none was chosen for this year’s Canadian Idol – and the judges make me want to claw my eyes out. And Brian … I mean, uh, Ben… Mulroney… smug and unbearable to watch? D’yuh think?
Okay, and while I’m ranting I have to add this; I would watch So You Think You Can Dance, but that judge Mary Whatever-her-name-is makes me want to throttle her with my bare hands. That screaming thing she does, and her laugh… awful! Just awful.
So, there it is, my confession. I like ‘Reality’ TV. I guess I just needed a category to talk about the latest outrage committed by the inmates of the Big Brother 8 house, and now I have it.
So, who’s going to be kicked off on Thursday, Jameka or Jen?