Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“Reality” TV sucks
Why anybody would get hooked on so-called "reality" TV is beyond me. Frankly, there's enough reality going on around me, why on earth would I want to go home and watch that crap? Okay, sheepishly I admit to a former "Amazing Race" addiction that lasted through the first two and a half seasons. Then the scripted tantrums etc got on my nerves and I changed the channel. CSI is about the limit of my endurance, yes I know it's fiction, my point exactly!
I worked in TV, I understand how programmes are done, I made enough of them, it’s hard to take reality TV at all seriously. We all know that they’ve already picked the winner, the trick is how to engage the audience with seeming “realness” to make us watch every single bloody week. There are lots of borrowed soap opera techniques; the dramatic music, the significant pauses from the hosts, the teary farewell speeches. In the studio, it’s even worse; they’re the lights and studio audience or canned tracks to add emphasis. Face facts friends, reality TV shows are soap operas in disguise. It is about entertainment for small minds and someone making money, that’s all.
Despite myself I watched “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network. How did they pick the first four Iron Chefs one wonders? Their perkiness, ability to look serious while cooking…it must be hard to keep a straight face sometimes really. These guys and gal used to be serious chefs, cooking in real restaurants, but that’s another rant. Anyway, Food Network stages this whole “battle” complete with “The Chairman” ranting…Mark Dacascos, failed martial arts “star” should really learn how to act, at times he appears to be on some kind of drug. Weird tests, overbearing, pretentious judges, the drama queen ingredients were all there. Even knowing that there probably was a winner, you kept hoping for something different. It came down to "rough and ready American" vs " good old Southern Charm Boy".
But, hold on, there is Dancing with the Stars. Even I admit this is purely entertaining just listening to the judges’, the hosts are better on mute I'm afraid! The dancing however, well, let's say that all are not created equal and leave it at that. The pros must spend a lot of time eye rolling. The sad part is that even if you are a great dancer you're basically screwed if someone can out ham you since half your score comes from the average viewer. They must all be ballroom dance experts, their choices are sometimes hard to understand.
I wouldn't care, it is only tv after all, but last night Marie Osmond made it into the finals. I remember her from Donnie and Marie, she was only passing entertaining then. What relentless sentimentality was at play here? Oh, was it "poor her", something has happened to her every week soap opera like. She's fainted, her father died, her son went to re-hab, wow, the writers over at the Young and Restless must be in awe! She should have gone home weeks ago and now she’s in the final? No, I'm not being ageist, nothing wrong with her ACTING skills but this is DANCING with the Stars! Poor Cheetah Girl Sabrina, now that would have been a dance off, her Mel and Helio.
To review, my reality is that I will no longer be watching either Dancing with the Stars or Iron Chef America. Predictably the rough and ready American "Chef" won despite that the other chef had much better technique,was certainly more polished and can we dare say, better looking. These programmes represent some of the worst traits of reality TV, talent and superior skills being traded out to feed some network execs idea of “reality”, though he may be right, the viewers seem to keep watching. By the way, Mike Symon, you may have won but John Besh is still the best.