REALITY SHOW FREAK, THAT’S ME  Topic #197:  Why are reality TV shows so popular? It seems everyone hates them in general, but has one show they just can’t stop watching. Which one is yours? If you don’t watch any, which of the ones you’ve heard about do you think you’d be most likely to watch? What’s your theory about why this form dominates so much of modern TV? 

I watch reality shows.  Used to be a devoted follower of Police and CSI type shows starting with Dragnet and moving on in time to  Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice, then there were the great sit-coms–Archie Bunker, Mash, the Golden Girls right on up to Seinfeld, Stubs, Something About Raymond and of course Sex in the City.  Then there was my nightly addiction to the Johnny Carson Show.  Laughing at the end of each day keeps you sane and not too long ago we had a TV in the bedroom.  Once Johnny left the air we never really agreed on a replacement.  I find Letterman funnier than Leno;  David doesn’t find either of them up to Johnny’s level.  Moreover, David watches the news almost constantly which is why I  banned the TV from the bedroom when we moved west.  I prefer to get my  news by reading.  I want TV for entertainment, not to feed my awareness of the problems of the world.

Now if I have the TV on it is mostly to one or another  reality shows.  I think the first ones to catch my interest were Project Runway,  Survivor,  The Great American Race,  the Biggest Loser, Kate and Eight, and Little People, Big World–I so admired that family and how they were raising their kids.  Oh and I also enjoyed some fo the  the dog training reality  over shows.

Never enjoyed the cop kind of shows including those involved in rescuing animals.  Intervention has never turned me on.  these shows were too much like my old job.

Big Brothers or Bachelor and Bachelorette didn’t get me.  Also haven’t found I could not watch the Wives of Whatever City for more than five minutes.  Just not interesting to me.  Tiaras and Toddlers makes me gag and I don’t like blood and gore like the plastic surgery makeovers.  Also think all of these shows offend my values and turn me into a judgemental old Granny/nanny/goat person.

So it is mainly cooking shows, property makeovers, clothing makeovers, still tune in Project Runway; and I was recently introduced to Pawn Wars, Storage Wars, and the Pickers. That reminds me that Antiques Roadshow is a reality show and I enjoy it.    I also occasionally peek at the Hoarders  makes me clean up and throw out; but also is depressing.   And yes, I do watch and enjoy Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice.  Still the cooking challenges remain my favorites:  Iron Chef, Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped, Restaurant Make-over, The Next Media Star, Cupcake Wars, Cake Boss.  I enjoy them all.

So as a reality show junkie I can talk a bit about why.  I am definitely a “people person” and a “tell me a story person”, the reality shows feed both needs.  I am also a problem solver and like to pit my ideas against the contestants.  But mostly now that I am (ha) retired, I have more time for cooking, and so I am interested in learning more about cooking and watching the cooking shows has improved my cuisine.  Although I doubt that I will ever get into baking.

I think also a part of those who watch such shows often identify with one or another of the contestants.  That also explains why we watch sports.  We see ourselves as part of a team and hopefully a winning team.   Finally, there is always a winner and while we might not like who wins most of us want a happy ending and that means someone wins.

Two other factors play into my preference for reality shows.  My growing deafness had diminished the pleasures of more standard shows.  I miss some of the comedy lines.  I am hyper active and so multi-task and keeping  a half an eye on the reality shows works better unless a show is otherwise incredibly ingrossing, most aren’t.  The main problem I have found with most tv is that it tends to get formulaic and then boring.  This also applies to reality shows.   I no longer watch the Greatest Loser and Survivor only gets a partial viewing if I happen to be channel flipping and it is there.

Question is news a reality show?

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