I was talking with some pals of mine about things that get on our nerves. Now I don’t mean little things, like our spouses who leave socks in the living room or who talk on cell phones in restaurants or at movies. I am talking about the kind of issues that make you think, what is wrong with our world…and of course, as always, this got me thinking…
I don’t get it, I don’t want to get it and I simply do not understand America’s obsession with reality TV. I mean how did we stray from living our own lives to watching people use the restroom, sleep, eat, cry, laugh at others, make fun of parents, date, fight, cheat, get married, have kids, get divorced, raise their children, and exploit their children? I suppose it’s called the American way. It is done for good old fashioned money so people like us can be entertained at any cost, even if it means a child and their well being. Come on, as long as we are entertained, we don’t mind.
What’s so sad, is most of today’s reality shows have a script. That’s not reality TV, but people who watch junk reality shows don’t care either. I suppose that is because many people need to live their vicariously through someone else’s life. That’s cool. I would rather read a book, go for a walk, or talk to my friends before watching junk reality.
Still, this would make one wonder, how did reality TV get started? In asking this question I have heard everything from MTV’s reality show Real World, to Cops. However, no one is willing to think far back enough to find out the REAL answer.
Well reality-based television really started in 1948 with Alan Funt, with his TV series Candid Camera. Then came the TV show in 1950 called Truth or Consequences. Both of these TV shows created man-made realties to see how ordinary people would respond. Don’t kid yourself either because the reality series of today borrow/steal a lot from these examples of what reality TV was supposed to be.
Funt, the master of reality based TV would set people up, and film them. He was a master at concealing cameras filming ordinary people and having “situations” happen to them. The reactions were priceless. Funt gave us reality TV based on real reactions. He was the mastermind behind REAL REALITY TV.
Now for the real junk reality TV show fans, you know the ones who love to watch other people live instead of paying attention to their own lives. That show was called “An American Family.” It was filmed in 1971 and aired on PBS in 1973. It was about the Loud family who lived in California. The show filmed over 300 hours of the daily lives of the Loud family. I suppose we wanted to watch it because our own families were far more boring than their family. The network televised the decision of the parents to divorce and the on-screen “coming out” of their gay son.
The next series of reality TV shows were Unsolved Mysteries in 1987, America’s Most Wanted in 1988, and both Rescue 911 and Cops in 1989. These were not horrible reality shows really. In fact, they were helpful to many Americans. Criminals were found, people learned how to use emergency services and we learned to laugh of our own mishaps when America’s Funniest Home Videos was launched in 1990.
I believe there is decent reality TV, and junk reality TV. Shows that offer us talent and truly entertain through singing and dancing, or shows that help catch criminals, or educate, aren’t all that bad.
It’s well scripted “reality” shows like The Simple Life, The Bachelor, Average Joe, The Bad Girls Club, Beauty And The Geek, Big Brother, Sober House, Toddlers and Tiaras, Joe Millionaire, Jon & Kate Plus 8, Meet My Folks, The Mole, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, Wife Swap and Jersey Shore that leaves me scratching my head searching for intelligent life forms.
To top it off, there is a huge dispute with the employees of many of these reality TV shows because they have been hired to create story lines, coach interview answers and manufactured crushes and feuds planned on “storyboards” before taping. Scenes are stitched together out of footage shot days even weeks apart. Many of the people who work at reality TV shows say their work amounts to script writing, and some are trying to sue stating that they deserve to be covered by the Writers Guild of America and be paid as a TV writer as well.
Me personally, I will stick to the original reality master Alan Funt and tip my hat to someone who filmed reaction to make real reality happen. Junk reality shows of today is just a waste of time and energy and makes me sad that we would rather watch people exploit women, children, and families rather than do something meaningful and positive with our own lives. Yes take me back to 1948 when we played nice and simply had fun.