Friday, October 15, 2010

Bored with Reality

I’m a big fan of Reality TV. Or, at least I thought I was. But I’ve been wondering lately if its time has past. Is it me, or has reality television become really boring?

I should start off by saying that, by reality, I primarily mean competitive shows. And by competitive shows, I mean ones based on actual talent and skills, judged by actual experts. In other words, So You Think You Can Dance, but not Dancing with the Stars. I did used to watch The Amazing Race, but when it became all about the casting, instead of the racing, I gave it up.

I have little interest in documentary-style reality, although I will cop to watching most of the first season of Toddlers and Tiaras—I just couldn’t look away. Hoarders could be interesting, but I think it would give the neat-freak in me seizures, or at least nightmares. In the past, I’ve enjoyed some self-improvement shows, mostly What Not to Wear and Clean Sweep, but these quickly became repetitive to me.

Is competitive reality suffering the same fate? Why do I no longer care who wins American Idol, Project Runway, or Top Chef? (Well, that’s not exactly true, Mondo needs to win Project Runway, but does anyone come close to him?) We’ve gotten to the point on most of these shows that the talent pool is incredible, but did anyone find their latest seasons interesting?

Are they pushing too hard on So You Think You Can Dance? Have they run out of good challenge ideas for Top Chef? Are the contestants too savvy and self-aware? Has stunt casting backfired? In short, can these shows be saved?

Or should I just be happy that I’ve discovered Modern Family and Parenthood?


SWK said...

I'm interested in your use of the word "documentary." I do not like reality television but do enjoy the occasional documentary program (recently saw a very interesting one about dancers at Juliard). While the terminology would imply both forms walk a similar line, "reality" telvision is, to me, exploitative (I'd put the "Toddlers" show in this category), positing that "real" people are either untrained or must be put into contrived situations whereas a documentary can follow trained, talented individuals (also real) trying to actually express a point-of-view. Guess, in the end, I'd stick with Modern Family! - Stasia

Sylvie said...

I don't think documentary-style reality TV has to be exploitative per se ("Deadliest Catch" comes to mind), although much of it is. I just have no interest in shows where I don't learn anything--following people's lives because they are famous ("The Simple Life", "The Osbournes") or have some sort of weird situation ("Jon & Kate Plus 8", "Intervention"). A series about Juliard dancers would at least (one hopes) involve talent, and learning about dancing.