“Reality shows hit hard times” – CNN About time if you ask me.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The article that spawns my following rant:

I’m kind of the black sheep among most of my family and friends when it comes to TV watching. I can say with pride, that the first time I watched Survivor (The very first one) I thought it was… dumb. That’s the last time I watched Survivor. I didn’t think anything of it… until I saw the rating later that week. I was surprised at how high was it. Evidently… so were then networks. Within a few months Reality TV attacked viewers like Reavers. Only, the buffet actually enjoyed it.

Reading into Reality TV later on, I found that the networks really like it because it can be cheap and fast. Maybe not cheap in theatrics, but cheap because some dumb suit in the network corporate tower can write an idea on a napkin, talk about it in the next meeting, and suddenly we have a reality TV show about how many midgets it would take to move a 747. Where-as, with most normal TV shows, producers and/or writers have to propose a TV show idea, and pray that they get glanced at by some passing suit.

Now… while the Entertainment Industry may be liberal in most areas, when it comes to money, they are extremely conservative. They play it very safe… and when your playing around with millions of dollars, you want it to pay off. That said, the purpose of TV (and radio,) is for people to watch advertisements. That’s right… commercials. If a new show doesn’t get people’s attention, then people aren’t watching their advertisements. The network’s customers are the people paying for advertisements. Not the viewers.

For the past few years, whenever a new Reality show would start, its viewership instantly started in the high millions. So reasonably, the networks believed they found a cash cow. And they did for awhile. The problem is, if the show sucked, viewership would die off very fast. But, there was always another show in the wings.

My beef with reality shows is that it set a very dangerous precedent throughout the industry. Original shows need time to develop a viewership. It takes time to tell a story. Time is a premium for networks. Time is almost more valuable the money. Why take time to tell a story and hope the audience will like it and the numbers will grow, when they can create some brain dead reality show and get viewership in the millions the first week or two. And maybe, just maybe, it will become a long term hit. The downside, is original shows come out looking like too much risk. And if its ratings aren’t as high as a reality TV show rating after the first couple of episodes, it gets the axe very quickly. Its why I sometimes view the Reality TV phenomena as more of a cancer on TV entertainment.

If Joss Whedon had tried to air Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this current era of TV entertainment, it would have been trashed by the end of the first season… maybe sooner. The same would go for many TV shows that have died off prematurely or never get taken. Investing in programs that take time to develop is a very risky thing for networks. In that same respect, sometimes they also beat an idea to death. How many more Law & Orders Star Trek, Star Wars, CSI, etc. are going to spawn? Trading Spaces (another Reality TV show) is also another example of this. How many more remakes of old TV shows must be we watch resurrect only to fail worse then the original (only one that I know of is truly a thing of beauty; Battlestar Galactica on Sci-fi). It remains to be seen if Survivor or American Idol will remain strong leads. And how many more seasons can the Simpsons go? Fox has tried replacing it several times, and each time it returns.

In the end, my problem with Reality TV programming isn’t what the shows are suppose to be about (although I consider them mostly a joke.) It isn’t even that normally the situations aren’t real. Its that its given TV networks the opportunity to no longer let an original and creative story grow. Originality takes time to grow. They develop a following if they’re good. I use to believe people wanted strong stories. For me, at least, that’s important. For a lot of people in this website and around the world that’s important. But a lot of people, aren’t the majority. I’m realizing that now. After suffering through several of my favorite shows being canceled, I’ve stopped watching it altogether. For that, I do truly thank Reality programming. I use to watch too much TV anyway.

I’ve noticed people are the same way with movies. I’ve invited many people to watch Serenity, and the question I seem to be getting asked the most is: “who plays in it?” Well… not many people heard of Nathan, Summer or Ron Glass. The mentality of most seems to be, if George Clooney isn’t playing Mal, then the movie must be weak. I applaud Universal Studios for taking a chance. I believe Serenity will pay for it’s self in the theaters, and then some. And the DVD sales will be very good. I wish it could do better. I wanted Serenity to show people what a creative story can be. And for most of those that risked watching it the movie and/or the series, they saw a truly original story brought to life.

But maybe in the end, the Entertainment Industry knows the majority of its viewers better. And if the programming that’s out there for pleasing the majority of the viewers, then I better get that Barnes and Noble frequent reader card.

There goes my venting for the week.
Don’t let rating damage your calm and have a great week!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005 4:53 PM


The only 'reality' shows I even bother to notice are the likes of Extreme Make Over:Home Edition. That show is genuinely clever, touching, innovative and honest good comes from their good works.

As for the rest of those shows.... I completely avoid them all. I put my TV. to far better use wiht my DVDs, or XBox. Beats watching that mind rot gos se they pass off as 'entertainment'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 3:07 PM


Not only that but 'The Simple (Minded) Life' has been canceled! YESSSSS!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 6:35 AM




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