There are so very many reality shows, it really is amazing. It could be said that there is actually a reality show for everyone. If you are interested in fashion, there is Project Runway. If you are interested in cooking, there is Iron Chef and The Next Food Network Star. Then it gets a little scary, if you are into the pawn shop scene, there are two shows dedicated to the pawn business. If you are intrigued by teen pregnancy, there is a show called Teen Moms on MTV. I think the popularity of these shows is multiple-fold. Some of them are quite educational, you can learn quite a bit from the cooking shows. If ever you are in need to pawn something, you will learn or at least get a feel as to what the owners of the pawn shop are looking for in the sale. There are also reality shows that investigate addictions like hoarding, morbid obesity, drug and alcohol addictions, so if you are suffering or someone who you know is suffering from an addiction, the shows can give you an idea of where to reach out to and perhaps steps to take to get someone help. These shows also cement the idea that you are not alone in your problems, frustrations and dreams. These shows can allow you to live vicariously through the contestants or players on these shows without fear of getting in too deep or getting hurt. The risk is all on them while you reap the enjoyment and pleasure of watching a show.
And then there is the simple fact that these shows can be entertaining, there is often a competitive edge to them and there is also a voyeuristic quality about them. The Apprentice was a show that interested me for two seasons and then I found it to be formulaic and predictable. I felt the same way with the The Next Food Network Star, the first two seasons were interesting and then it became boring. Hell’s Kitchen was another show that I found entertaining for 2 or 3 seasons and then all the yelling done by Gordon Ramsey, the chef, turned me off. The pattern here seems to indicate that I have only the capacity to stay faithful to a reality show for two years and then my interests start to wander. Right now I’m watching Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, I really like the Simmons’ family, Gene is an egotistical rock star but his spousal equivalent and their two children are a pleasure to watch. I’ve only been watching for a few months, so if the pattern holds up I still have a year and a half left to watch.
I understand how and why the reality shows came about, the writer’s strike was a serious roadblock to the network’s programming schedule and they had to fill up the time slots with something and therefore the wave of all these different reality shows at bargain basement prices to produce. Leave it to Hollywood to get creative. I don’t know how much longer these reality shows will be able to feed the audiences of American with interest and voyeurism, but until it becomes cost prohibitive, I think that the reality show is here to stay.