Want reality? Turn off the television

It was only a matter of time. We’ve been submerged by “Back To School!” ads since late July and it’s time to get back into those slightly overcrowded rooms in Sir George W. Another summer has come and gone.
You might not be happy about the school year starting back up again, but if you are a television junkie there is solace to be found in the autumnal months. Rejoice, for the return of the (good) television season is nigh! This is a welcome prospect after viewing the drivel that networks choose to air during the low season.
If there is comfort to be found in the return of such favourites as Lost, The Simpsons, Grey’s Anatomy, etc. it is offset by the fact that a good deal of new shows on the fall lineup will be – for a lack of a better word – crap.
Among these shows, both worthwhile and horrendous, will be a slew of reality television programs.
For the last 10 years, reality shows have been springing up on almost every network at an amazing rate. Networks have a reason to love this genre: they don’t have to spend a lot of money for original programming. Just get a few media whores together for a period of time in a certain enclosed environment and let the cameras roll! You don’t need to invest in a good writing team and calibre actors when there are schmucks who are willing to eat pig eyeballs on camera. Now that’s entertainment.
It has now come to the point where almost every reality television show has been devised. From locking up total strangers in a house with cameras in all the rooms to record their every menial action (Look! He’s chopping lettuce. Wow.), to deciding which brownnosing twit gets the modeling gig.
One of the more popular shows in Quebec is Loft Story where Big Brother meets staring at linoleum tiles for 22 minutes, seven days a week. Make that linoleum tiles with bad haircuts.
An important sub-category of reality television is the popular celebrity reality show – celebreality, how clever n’est-ce pas. We get to meet the person behind the public face. Think Paula Abdul is a ditz? Turns out, you’re right.
Along with Abdul, are the likes of Scott Baio, Kathy Griffin, Corey Haim/Feldman, Gene Simmons, to name a few, who have traded privacy for a bit more of the media spotlight. Some pull it off better than others. If you have a chance, check out Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List for an example of a good celebreality. This is a welcome change from most other shows that follow the mind-numbing ego-fest that most celebrities who have faded from the public view put on.
Some networks almost solely rely on reality programming, such as TLC or A&E, which do have their share amount of quality programming. It isn’t all morons voting each other off the island. Little People, Big World is intelligent, well made and only one example of a good reality show. It really depends what you’re looking for. Chances are, whatever that may be, you’ll find something.
Although we seem to be overrun with reality television, some can be really smart and deserve to be on the air. Every once in a while a show like Tall Ship Chronicles hits the airwaves. Others. well, I need only say Pirate Master. Bonus television junkie points if you knew that the same ship was used in both shows.
Reality shows are everywhere, and even though there is quality reality programming out there, it’s time major networks put a little money into some good drama or comedy series.
What’s that you say? Turn off the television and get a life? Heresy! I wouldn’t dream of such a thing. Excuse me, I shall be late for Temptation Island.


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