I don’t particularly enjoy Reality TV shows. In fact, I find them irritating and contrived. However, I do like home improvement shows. I didn’t realise that these would collide violently when we moved into our new house.
Over the last few years we have taken to streaming video over the internet mostly Hulu and Netflix. When we moved into our new home we decided to give cable TV another try. It seems that in my absence Reality TV has infiltrated just about every channel, even ones I used to enjoy. I used to like to watch the Home and Garden network because it had some good programs that actually informed and inspired viewers. Now HGTV has adopted the Reality TV model of programing. It’s almost too painful to watch.
Shows like Love it or List it, Property Virgins, Curb Appeal, and Brother vs. Brother, all seem to follow the same formula. Create a lame excuse for competition, imply conflict when none exists, do lots of construction while explaining nothing, recap after each commercial break, run up against an artificial time limit, and then show how perfect everything turned out. At first I was simply annoyed. During a 30 minute show, more time is devoted creating drama and conflict than actually seeing what they are doing.
I found myself watching one of these shows the other night. I have my own home improvement projects to do. But rather than doing them, I was sitting on my ass watching other people compete against each other. At the end of the show I realized that I didn’t learn anything about the project. The show neither informed nor inspired. In fact the only thing I remember about the show is that some of the people had disagreements and they didn’t think they would be done in time. In time for what? The show to end? Who ever gets a home improvement project done on time?
I just lost a half an hour of my life. It will never come back, it’s gone. That half an hour could have been used for something useful, like writing a to-do list on what I could have been doing instead of watching this crap. Like watching my own paint dry, or watching a plant that I planted grow.
I don’t blame the producers of these stupid shows. Their sole purpose is to keep the audience glued to the TV long enough to watch the commercials, and then another episode of the same show, and more commercials. They have just about perfected the process of extending and recapping to the point where they can fit 10 minutes of content into a half an hour time slot. To make matters worse, half of the time spent on commercials is for other reality shows on the same network. The producers are only trying to make money. And I am sure that they do.
Sadly, I think this is the future of TV.
Soon, even the evening News will be a reality show. I imagine teams or tribes competing to be newscasters by cover live stories. Then one of the “Anchors” will get voted off once a week. Think about the levels involved with this idea. I figure that the evening news will feel compelled to announce the winner of the contest on the news, which itself could be a news reality show. Like a snake eating its own tail.
Or even further down the rabbit hole… how about a reality show about people competing to be camera operators who film reality shows? You could have contestants who are looking for an opportunity to get into the romantic field of reality show camera operators. So they would be assigned to assist the camera crew and be filmed behind the scenes of another reality show like Survivor. So you would have camera operators, following camera operators around while they are filming Survivors.
Of course if something happened on the set that is deemed newsworthy, the whole reality world would collapse into a ball of steaming bullshit so dense the stink couldn’t escape. That may be the best way to describe TV of the future.
We won’t notice how bad it stinks, because the stink can’t escape.