Reality TV is beyond unreal. I’ve watched a few “reality shows” now that I’ve retired, and I must say I am thoroughly dismayed. I’m not a TV snob, you know one of those types who only watches CSPAN and PBS (nothing against those two fine stations, but I require my Late Night with Craig Ferguson, Big Bang Theory, Shark Week, etc.). I just have time now to notice the sheer unreality of reality television.

I shall give a fine example: Breaking Amish. This show is a total joke. There is so much more going on here than we see. After doing a little research, I found that a lot of the story lines in the show are almost fabricated or staged. I wasn’t surprised by this, just heavily disappointed in TLC for going to the bad place. The Learning Channel needs to rebrand to TTV-GTSNPWWFYC (Trash TV, Go To Sleep Now People While We Feed You Crap). I remember when TLC had real shows about real things. Let’s move on to Toddlers and Tiaras. I watched one episode and marveled at the sheer insanity of pageants, pageant parents and these little over-sugared girls who often seem like they just want to play outside and not get up on stage and “shake their five year old moneymakers”. TLC has really shifted their programming to hyper-reality shows that have very little to do with any “learning”, and these two titles are only scratching the surface of their “reality” lineup.

What’s going on with all the “let’s make fun of the redneck” shows? Hmm. Swamp People, Call of the Wild Man, Hillbilly Handfishing, Lady Hoggers, Duck Dynasty, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (umm… this program requires a straight jacket.. and why are they captioned? You can understand them just fine!!). These are only a few of the offenders. I feel no particular way about anybody, but these shows are obviously trying to make you make fun of them, make you see them as ridiculous.

What about all the speculative reality shows dealing with aliens and Bigfoot that are so serious as to make one laugh hysterically? What about all the ghost shows in which nothing makes a noise but the cast then frantically looks about and whispers in abject terror, “What was that? Did you hear that? I’m really cold now.” I’m looking at you History Channel and SyFy. You got skewered by South Park and deserved everything you got.

MTV and VH1, I’m not even talking to you two anymore until you play a little more than one hour of music here or there.

And of all the crazy shows out there, the Real Housewives series must be the most insane of the lot. After watching ONE episode, I realized how amazing of a marriage I truly have, realized how happy I am for a life of calm contentment, and realized how much attention I don’t need every minute of every day. I knew these things before, but shows like this cement those things in my heart forever. Comedians and psychologists are right about this type of show, they make us all feel better about ourselves. Another thing this show teaches you is to be very careful about any plastic surgery you were contemplating because..geez. I mean just look.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of other “reality” shows out there. I couldn’t possibly blog about them all, and some deserve a whole post (this means you American Gypsies, Jersey Shore, The Swan (ARGH!), Temptation Island, Teen Mom, Keeping Up With The Kardashians — the insanity of this one could be about five separate posts).

We need to wake up. Broadcast TV and cable stations need to wake up. If people want reality shows, give them reality shows but make them real. Don’t script them, don’t stage them, don’t direct them, don’t jab everyone in the cast with a stick to make them argue, and find inspiring stories for us. Give us something to get behind and cheer for, not mock, not degrade, not lower our opinion of, not find differences to hate, not encourage or increase stereotyping…the list goes on.

Discovery Channel now wants to rebrand itself and have more character driven shows. I can only assume they are about to walk the same path as other channels and move into programming hell. I’m hoping the only characters that are driving the upcoming Shark Week are actual sharks.


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