How can any true aficionado of pop culture completely overlook reality TV? Sure you can call it low brow TV or guilty pleasure TV or whatever you like but there is truly something out there for nearly every taste. Maybe you aren’t into the drama of Bridezilla but you’re a car buff. Well guess what, Top Gear (the BBC version) is reality TV. It seems like a magazine show but some of the scenarios the cast sets up pushes it more into the reality stratosphere. There are competition shows such as Amazing Race and Survivor. These are hybrid reality TV and game show as are cooking shows such as Top Chef and Chopped. There are other personality in a mixing bowl shows such as Duck Dynasty that are more about voyeuristic looks into a side of culture and an eclectic grouping of people that you might not be able to see everyday.
The reality show has its base in documentary story telling. When this sort of TV first began it was more documentary than scripted but now most of these shows are so manipulated that they are virtually scripted. The cast may not have words being placed in their mouths but they are being put in situations where the producers of the shows can predict and control the outcomes and the reactions of the cast. Most reality shows these days call themselves “unscripted television”. At first I was very appalled by these shows calling themselves “reality” and stupefied that the general public can’t tell how set up most of these shows are. I’m still shocked at how ridiculous it is that most mainstream viewers believe what they are seeing is simply reality but the idea of unscripted TV bothers me much less than it once did.
At the heart of what’s on the tube is entertainment. At the end of the day was I entertained? That’s really what this boils down too. If the show takes the format of “mockumentary” is it still entertaining? If the answer is yes then the show is a success. To believe that anything on television isn’t tinkered with is nonsense so to get mad that a show is trying to look like a documentary but actually be semi-scripted is just an esthetic decision that’s as valid as any other night time drama or comedy.
There is room to argue that the people on these shows are exploited and that in fact the actions of the producers and the shows could be fairly detrimental to the cast but these are adults that signed a contract and in most cases went through a lot to be exploited. The only time I have issue with the situation is when it comes to children, and there are those shows out there.
So, it’s with all of this in mind that we launch “The CineGeek Reality Blog” with two new contributors to the site! In this blog they will discuss the world of reality television and all that’s good and bad in it. Coming very soon we will also be adding a fully interactive webcast/podcast called CineGeek Gets Real where they will discuss reality TV live and in mp3 form in a similar vein to our flagship series “The Official CineGeek Webcast”. So jump on in with us, tell us your favorite reality TV shows and let us know what you’d like us to cover as part of this new initiative!