Reality television really annoys me. Yes I know it’s all fake and I guess the participants must have some idea what they are getting into, they apply to go on the programs after all. Some of it is so preposterous you couldn’t possibly take it seriously. The biggest mystery to me is why people watch it anyway.
Take the Jerry Springer Show for example. My husband watches it regularly. He claims that most of the guests are real people. I think they are actors. I hope they are actors. I’d hate to think that there are so many bad mannered, foul mouthed, uncontrolled people in the USA. They seem stereotypical characters to me. The show certainly has a predictable pattern.Most of the women seem to be strippers. Everyone sleeps with their partners cousin, sister, brother or best friend. Some guests who look like women turn out to be men and the audience is always disgusted by this. Nobody meant to do what they did but they were drunk at the time. The guys fight and their shirts get ripped off, the gals fight and their wigs come off . I might add that these are not usually attractive people. I find the shouting and constant repetition of the same sentence irritating but my husband finds the show funny. Go figure.
Then there are the Storage Wars/Pawn Stars/American Pickers type of shows. I see quite a few of these because my husband enjoys some of them although even he finds the personalties of some of the people a bit much. The thing that always gets me about these is the way the storage hunters casually throw out values of items, “This is a hundred dollars, that’s fifty, that will be two hundred.” as if they already know. Well perhaps they do. http://darrenarcher.name/ftv/PDF%27s/Reality%20Television.pdf
I always imagine them taking their goodies to Rick Harrison‘s store and being told, “It’s old, it’s rough. I’ll have a hard time selling it. I’ll give you fifty bucks for it.” While I don’t mind these shows as much as the other reality offerings because I like seeing the interesting stuff people find I get tired of the emphasis on money. That’s just me I know. I don’t really care if Rick and co. can make “a ton of money”, a favourite expression on A&E shows. What I dislike about Rick Harrison in particular is that he always comes across as being very smug. He laughs at customers when he tells them he won’t be giving them what they want even though you’ve just heard him saying what a great item it is and how much he wants it. I am sure he is a nice man really and I know it’s business but every time I see him on TV I want to punch him. I really prefer the (British) “Antiques Road Show” style of program where you get a history of the object and often an interesting story about how the person got it.
Cooking shows, another pet hate. Cooking shows used to be about someone showing you how to make a dish, usually one you might actually prepare in your own home. I never found them particularly interesting but I didn’t mind them. Then along came Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and all the rest of the so called Celebrity Chefs. What I hate about these guys is their language and their manners. Not Jamie so much although his swearing, especially when he was younger, really annoyed me. At least he seems to be trying to do some good in the world. Gordon is just plain rude. I don’t subscribe to the idea that chefs are allowed to abuse their staff because they are creative people. The kitchen is a workplace and while constructive criticism and even a good telling off of a lazy or incompetent worker is one thing I don’t think they should be abused and humiliated in front of the rest of the staff let alone a TV audience. If this sort of things really goes on in commercial kitchens there needs to be some workplace reform right away and if it doesn’t’ then Gordon it’s not funny, stop doing it!
Then there are shows like Master Chef. I haven’t watched it but as far as I can tell it’s not so much about good cooking as about ridiculous challenges and drama between contestants. The soap opera element is one that nearly all genres have in common. Whether it’s Big Brother which was unashamedly about the people and the relationships to fashion and dating shows where all the girls bitch about each other constantly; or the renovating shows with all the contestants arguing with their opponents and often with each other as well.
I guess because I don’t like confrontation and arguments myself I find these shows especially annoying. Take Survivor, shouldn’t it really be about teamwork and the winner the person who had shown him or herself to be the best leader? Instead it’s full of alliances being broken, backstabbing and lies. Seriously, if they were really stranded they would not survive if they didn’t cooperate. Even The Amazing Race, a show that I have always liked, focuses a lot on the personality clashes of the contestants. I don’t watch it as much as I used to because of that.
Finally I would like to mention the shows that make me the most angry. I will call them “Improvement” shows. In this group would be the weight loss shows, programs like Hoarders and even some of the renovating ones. I find the weight loss shows like Biggest Loser very disturbing because to me it doesn’t seem very safe to take obese people and put them in a boot camp situation. If you are obese you are putting a lot of strain on your joints doing these work outs and it’s unrealistic to have them do that right from the start. I also hate to see contestants in pain and saying they have had enough while a sadistic looking trainer yells at them. I am overweight but I would not be grateful to a person who treated me like that. I don’t care if they did agree to be on the show. It’s humiliating. It’s also not real life, they should be teaching them how to cope in their own homes in the real world not in the beloved of reality TV group house.
I’ve never watched Hoarders but my sister has and she said she feels sure it is staged as every episode starts with the presenter climbing over a huge pile of rubbish. How are the hoarders themselves always so clean and well groomed living in houses where you can’t use the bathroom she asks? Both of us agree that we feel that the way this issue is handled for television is cruel. Forcing people to give up treasured possessions is a lot different from cleaning out dirt and rubbish. Hoarding is an addiction for some people and needs a real cure not a TV quick fix by a know it all “expert”. There was a show on here in Australia called “Your Life on the Lawn” . The premise of this show seemed to be that the victim’s (yes, I used that word on purpose) possessions would be spread all over the back lawn and they would be then forced throw most of it out. Just the idea of that made me so angry I couldn’t watch. The same goes for decorating shows and real estate shows where the experts tell you that your house looks daggy and you have too much stuff but not to worry because they will fix it. I would never want experts, or for that matter total strangers taking it on themselves to decorate my house! Even if it was being paid for by the station.
During the property boom a few years ago shows about selling homes were very popular. They gave me a permanent dislike of most real estate agents and distrust of auctions. Sometimes the sellers did well but I can recall other episodes where the auction stalled and the agent practically bullied the seller into dropping the reserve to stimulate bidding, needless to say as soon as they did the house sold for way less than they had originally hoped for and in most cases been told by the agent they would get. Sadly that is not TV fantasy, it actually does happen. We were very careful when we sold our own home at around this time and totally refused to have anything to do with auctions. But that may be a subject for another rant.
I could go on, I could have mentioned talent shows where they expect all the contestants to be good in every genre and where the judges personalities overshadow the contestants. I wonder how the Rolling Stones for instance, would have done on Britain’s Got Talent or American Idol? However I think you get the picture. I don’t watch any of these shows myself so you could argue that I should watch them before I make judgements. I’ve seen the odd episode of some of them, others I just knew I wouldn’t like without having to see them so I think I’ll just read thanks.