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Reality TV: Catching Lightning In A Bottle

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So, I've been watching a lot of summer reality programming and boy, are my eyes tired.

Seriously, from the ex-celebrities that have shows to the insane individuals that think they can cook, make movies, or find buried pirate treasure, I just wonder where the producers find them. Are people in this world that desperate to be on television that they don't mind acting stupid for money? Or is that not it? Is it laziness? Is it based in the belief that it is just too hard to become a head chef the normal route – I'll go on TV and leap years ahead in my career path? I'll just go on TV and forget learning how to actually make a movie and work my way up and earn the respect of those around me and instead get some million dollar movie deal (if we're really being honest here, the winner of that show probably gets a tiny little office and the chance to do nothing for a year).

But, for all the crashing, burning, and silliness, there is unquestionably something addictive about some of these shows. And that is the real trick to it. Hell's Kitchen is running its third season right now and has been upped for a fourth. It's Survivor in a kitchen — everyone has seen it and everyone knows what it is, why should it be popular? Or, why should Pirate Master, Survivor on a boat made by the guys who make Survivor, not be? Some of the contestants on these shows (Boston Rob) have been able to make a career out of going on various shows, promoting themselves on the shows, and now even developing shows of their own.

What makes a reality show or a person on a reality show successful then?

There are a multitude of factors, there always are. It's marketing, it's positioning your show in the right time slot, having the right mix of people, the right host, and, it's about luck.

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman certainly had luck on their side back in the 1980s when they became teen heartthrobs, but watching their current reality show, The Two Coreys, it seems unlikely that they will be able to capture that lightning in a bottle a second time. Paula Abdul was huge 20 years ago, but as of late has shown herself to be… well, we all saw the television interview, didn't we?

There is another way to look at it, though. Perhaps the people on the reality shows in question, be they regular people or celebrities, consider simply getting on television for those few extra weeks to be lucky. Sure, it would be nice, their theory might run, for the show to be a success and a springboard for even greater stardom, but that would be just icing on an already delicious cake.

So, maybe even if Boston Rob's Tontine never actually airs on a network, simply getting to make it is a win for him. It certainly allows him to keep going a little while longer without a day job, and I think we can all call that lucky.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Jill from Western Australia

    Avid fan of Pirate Master, now hunting for info, it comes in “in dribs and drabs”. Local Australian TV keeps advertising the show…BUT gives us re-runs of The Simpsons {YUK!} & Everybody {EXCEPT ME!} Loves Raymond. Producers were “stupid”..FINISH THE SERIES to satisfy viewers…I’m one angry Aussie!!!

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    It’s available for viewing on CBS’s website.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Congratulations! This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States.