When Reality TV first appeared on our screens (over 10 years ago now), I don’t think anyone knew just how much it would change the landscape of television programming forever. Now I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that (in the UK at least) Big Brother was the first TV programme of the reality genre to really break ground. Though I think most US readers would say that MTV’s The Real World came first. In fact, reality TV has been with us since TV began in the 40’s and 50’s though the format was slightly different; centred around documentaries or game shows.
From my own personal perspective, I remember watching one or two series of The Real World and loving it. Though I suspect we were at least a season behind in the UK. I also used to be an avid Big Brother fan, until about series 3 when it just started to make me cringe. And for me, Big Brother was the catalyst for the major changes on TV in the UK.
Nowadays you can watch just about anyone, doing just about anything, on TV in search of fame and/or fortune. And you don’t even have to get on TV to make yourself famous these days thanks to YouTube, Twitter and the Internet in general. Anyone can put themselves out there (heck, I’m doing it now!)
Reality TV though, can be addictive. And there are 2 types (I think); Celebrity Reality TV and Civilian Reality TV. Some people are able to cross from Civilian to the Holy Grail of Celebrity, but no-one wants to come back the other way. (NB: when I say “Celebrity” I’m talking “Z list”, you wouldn’t catch Tom Cruise living on rice and witchety grubs in the jungle, now would you?). Not that the programmes are any less entertaining because the “Celebrity” status of the contestants are at the very least, tenuous. No! That’s what makes it even better.
We LOVE to watch people make idiots of themselves! (Well I do) Especially when they are portrayed as someone to aspire to by the media, or worse, by themselves and their PR machines! It makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I’m an OK person after all (though, laughing at others misfortunes probably directly disproves that!). And there’s an inherent nosy-ness in human nature, I think. We’re all voyeurs at the end of the day, aren’t we? Just look at how many traffic jams are caused by passing cars “swan necking” at a car wreck on the side of a road!
My current Reality TV LOVE is Pineapple Dance Studios. I just cannot get over how deluded the Band Guy is (poor bloke) and how fabulously camp Louis is. I get a good dose of self-righteousness and old-fashioned entertainment all in one, weekly, hour-long, segment! I just can’t help smiling all the way through! My Beloved, on the other hand, groans all the way through… well that’s not true. He actually tends to disappear after a maximum of 3 minutes to watch football in the other room or read a book (and this is how I know just how much he hates it – he NEVER reads a book!). He’s the same in the winter time, when my TV Mecca returns to the screens (Strictly Come Dancing).
TV Soaps replaced over the wall gossip to make us all feel that our lives were good, in comparison to other lesser souls. And now reality TV has replaced the role of the soaps. You may love them or you may hate them. But whilst many make me cringe beyond any minimum level of comfort and I generally put forward the statement that I’m not really into reality TV. I think my addiction to PDS probably proves that reality is TV Heaven to me!