Reality TV sucks, especially the more recent trend that particular brand of television entertainment has taken. I despise it. I think it's the worst thing that has happened to television in the past 20 years, bar none. It's become so absurd and self-fulfilling that it eats…well, itself. Think about VH1's Surreal Life of Strange Flava of I Love New York's Real Chance at Charm School Academy…Rock. You get my point. It's smut. And that's just one TV network. I haven't even mentioned the Real Housewives of wherever-the-f*ck, and all of those God-awful "competition" based shows such as America's Next Top
This brand of TV will be the death of well-written shows that actually require a plot. More written shows are going off of the air, and timeslots are filled with reality TV. Really, I don't blame the networks (from a business perspective, at least). There's a demand for crap-TV. Why wouldn't they provide it and profit? I do blame the audiences to some degree. My reasoning for this is that the same people that watch this trash will also complain about the overall stupidity of our society, a stupidity that some of these shows surely contribute to, if only by glamorizing it. Think about it. What did you learn from watching written TV shows (be it an hour long drama, or a 30 minute sitcom) when you were growing up? How much did you learn about law, medicine, forensics, psychology, life etc. from watching The Practice, Law & Order, ER, New York Undercover, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, A Different World, Facts of Life, and even Martin etc?
One might read this and say that my opinion is a matter of taste. But I believe it more to be a matter of quality. I'm more disappointed than anything. And I'm particular disappointed in the show that fathered this genre: The Real World®.
MTV blew a golden opportunity to serve society and bridge many-a-gap between cultures, in my opinion. The Real World started out in 1992, in New York City, a city known for its cultural diversity, and heralded as the melting pot of the U.S. It was a social experiment…a study. The objective was to observe and analyze what happens when you put 7 strangers (from different backgrounds, cities, and cultures) in the same living quarters and force them to not only live together, but to also work together. And the experiment was filmed for the viewer to see. It was a brilliant concept…not only for its premise, but also from a business and marketing perspective. You could not watch just one episode of the show without getting hooked. You were sucked in as the cast struggled to overcome obstacles such as religion, addiction, sexuality, politics, love, and prejudice to name a few. They all had to compromise with at least one other cast member, as each of them had ideals that they rigidly supported. And as the viewer, you learned from that dynamic. You learned about the cast, people in general, and yourself.
Obviously, it was a hit.
MTV continued this trend for the next few seasons, selecting interesting combinations of cast members from diverse backgrounds and displaying more personal issues (abortion, rape etc). Eventually and unfortunately, MTV abandoned the social study aspect of the show for the more dramatic happenings (such as Tami Roman's skank ass overreacted to David playfully pulling a blanket off of her on The Real World: Los Angeles). They started choosing essentially the same type of cast members for each city/season: a homosexual/bisexual, a slut, a virgin, a bigot, a jock, a drunk/addict, a victim of abuse, and an eccentric (or some combination thereof). And in my opinion, throughout the years, these types have only gotten more extreme. It is here where I think MTV squandered an opportunity.
Think of the good MTV could have done for race/culture/gender communications with The Real World if they had continued to cast diverse groups, exploring cultural niches that had yet to be tapped. From the show's birth in 1992 to present 2010, this country has become more and more diverse. The Real World could have explored African American culture beyond the typical people that are generally cast. They could have cast a 1st generation U.S.-born Indian or Asian, people with true passion for particular careers such as journalism, photography, or teaching (as opposed to music). They could have cast someone with strong blood-line political ties…a Kennedy or a Bush, perhaps. And yes, they did attempt some of these…but it was very sporadic. And I also noticed that there was rarely more than 1 college student or college graduate per season.
What's my point here? I guess my point is that there should be more to a TV show than how much drama (false or real) can be generated by the cast. TV networks are quick to sell their credibility for ratings. And we (the viewers) are quick to buy in. MTV (aka MUSIC Television) hardly shows any music videos now. The bulk of their programming consists of reality TV. And while some of it is…well-intentioned, the bulk of it is simply feeding trash to anyone who will eat it. Many of us constantly gripe about the lack of social sophistication we encounter daily. We are amazed and disappointed by the oblivious, zombie-like state that most of our youths seem to be in today. But we need only look at our TVs to find the starting point of this mindlessness.
Should all TV be "challenging" and mentally stimulating? Of course not. But damn, 'The Situation' (of Jersey Shore fame) is slated to make more than $5 Million this year, yet they're closing a gang of schools in the city I live in (and probably yours too). Where's the f*ckin' balance?
What do y'all think about reality TV in general? How do you feel about The Real World® 1992 vs the show now?