Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reality Bites

In recent years, reality shows have become wildly popular, but my question is this:  "are they actually real?"  The answer in a word, hardly.  I find it quite ironic that tapings of The Real Housewives, Big Brother, Survivor, Big Rich Texas, etc. are considered to be reality shows.  The fact is, they are as far from reality as can possibly be imagined. 

Honestly, in what world do teenagers have plastic surgery that's routine as bi-yearly dental cleanings and women shop around the clock for designer fashions that cost more than a year's rent?  Hello, it's not reality! 

Millions of people tune in to these shows weekly to satisfy their cravings for a dose of reality TV for one witness the train wrecks that they are.  I can't even have a lunchtime conversation with my coworkers (you know who you are) without a discussion arising about the latest happenings to one of the "real" housewives of whatever-city-has-disgraced-its-namesake for D-rate publicity.  I don't have much to contribute to those conversations because A) I don't watch those shows and B) I couldn't care less.

I don't mean to get on my "teenagers-today-have-no-idea-what-real-life-is-like" soapbox, so please forgive me, but it must be said that the reason they expect Daddy to hand over the keys to a brand new SUV on their 16th birthday is partly a result of these so-called reality shows.  It's almost as though they feel a sense of entitlement because that's what is portrayed on the sets of these TV shows.

I remember like it was yesterday...the minute the credits rolled at the end of the first Sex & the City movie, my mother's first words were, "You know that's not reality."  Bummer.  I would love to live in a New York City studio apartment and still have the means to drop thousands of dollars on Manolos and Dior on my writer's salary.  But as a real-life writer, I can 100% honestly vouch for the validity of my mother's statement.  While I do have a semi-unhealthy obsession with shoes, I sure as heck don't have the likes of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos lining the shelves of my closet.

Don't get me wrong...I'm all for TV shows allowing everyday folks possessing God-given talents the ability to shine and receive accolades and recognition they would otherwise never receive (yea for The Voice and Project Runway!); however, I'm not about to waste my time watching wealthy, catty women bad-mouth each other while cameras are rolling. 

I also think it's great that certain reality shows help morbidly obese individuals with lifelong eating disorders drop the pounds that present life-threatening health problems and keep them from feeling a sense of self worth.  But sending a group of people to a tropical island and taping them as they duke it out over team challenges in order to determine that last man standing....NOT reality!

If you want to film a true reality show, drop contestants off in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a magnifying glass and a pocket knife and see if they can actually survive MacGyver style.  But don't for a second pretend that they're out there "roughing it" with a camera crew standing ten feet away feeding them McDonalds cheeseburgers between takes.  That's not survival!

Bottomline, for the sake of guilty-pleasure entertainment, reality shows are fine.  But as for passing them off as real life, the tribe has spoken....."reality shows bite!"