Sunday, December 04, 2005
UNLESS YOU DEFINE C-SPAN as reality TV, most reality TV is dumb. Nevertheless, there are a few shows I admit to watching or having watched. The original, "Cops," I used to watch back when it was a new concept, but nowadays I'm older and wiser and a show glorifying the creeping police state and the drug war just doesn't appeal to me any more. I've been known to watch "The Real World" sometimes; it's like watching a car wreck. Ditto for the last couple seasons of "The Surreal Life" (which I swore I'd never watch, but how can you not watch the runty, black-as-coal, always-buggin'-out Flavor Flav hookin' up with sagging blonde amazon Brigitte Nielsen?), and "My Fair Brady." Again, it's the completely insane personalities and the drama that suck you in. And the fact that these shows, as unreal as they are in many of their facets, do evoke situations and people you know. They're an opportunity to watch human nature at work in all its beauty and repulsiveness. They excite a visceral reaction precisely because they portray such familiar, universal characters and themes.
Of the reality-show crop. probably one of the most positive in its impact is MTV's "Made." It's about high school kids who want to achieve a goal. They're provided a personal coach to pull and push the very best out of them. These kids have garnered a special place in my heart because they remind me of myself throughout much of high school. In other words, they're the so-called losers.