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Reality TV Nightmares

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Unscripted television is not a realistic portrayal of human interaction. There are times when it is a complete waste of time and energy. The behavior of some of the people is appalling, to say the least. There is no reality dream in television land, there is only reality nightmare.

Once upon a time, I was under the illusion that I could find a reality show that was worth my effort to watch and that I could actually sit down and enjoy. To that end, I decided to watch a little show called Crowned. It was a pageant themed show all about mothers and daughters.

Crowned was shown on the CW network. The CW is not a channel that I generally think of for reality shows, except for America’s Next Top Model, so I figured I might be safe. I found out by the first episode that things were not as I had hoped. I could only shake my head as the women who were mothers cursed and yelled at one another; and not only that, but their daughters did the same. There was no respect nor were any of the good feelings portrayed on the show genuine. The few women and daughters who began the show portraying themselves as religious or with morals were in the mud with the rest by the show's completion.

I was very disappointed. I honestly expect that type of behavior from shows that are on the MTV or VH1 channels. The Tilas or New Yorks of the world have shown that their way of playing the game of reality television is one that is full of cursing, stripping, sex, and plain vulgarity.

Maybe there is no hope for those of us who are naïve in the world of unscripted television or at least I felt that way until I found a show that was almost, well, perfect. That show was Farmer Wants a Wife.

Now this is a show that no one would have expected me to watch. Not because I am really that particular, believe it or not, but the title was definitely off-putting. The name just seemed a bit boring.

Well, I gave it a shot and it was the best of reality television in my eyes. On this show the Farmer, Matt, was searching for a wife; hence the title. But, he did not go out of the way to do anything to make himself seem to be anything other than a farmer. The dates were all down to earth, nothing too fancy or over the top. He took one young lady to a movie that was shown on the side of a barn or some similar structure. On another date they went on a picnic out in a field, which was quite romantic. The way he treated the women was also respectful. They all helped him around the farm; the better to give each woman an idea of what their life with him would be like. It was very sweet.

Of course it wasn’t perfect; but it was so much better than the basic reality shows which are talked about around the water cooler on Monday mornings and on the Internet every day. It was very different from Flavor Flav and Janice Dickinson.

What I enjoyed the most, I think, was his attitude. He seemed down to earth and perhaps for that reason his choices of women fit in with that same ideal. Of course, there is always a bad apple in every bunch; but as unscripted television, it had a format that was one that made sense.
It would be nice for producers of similar shows to consider showing the public that these shows can have class and substance instead of loud, obnoxious, over-acting wannabes behaving badly. Of course, the majority of the viewers watch that type of show to get a laugh at someone else's expense and to see how far the participants will go for the money or the prize offered.
Since the above shows aired, I have ventured out and watched other reality shows and found that if I am picky then I should stay away from many of them. However, there are quite a few shows that I have enjoyed, among them, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tori and Dean, even Janice Dickinson had me on edge of my seat and wanting to see what would happen every week. I know it seems that I am more of a fashion junkie then I first realized, but at least I do not have to deal that much with the bad language. I am not saying it isn't present but it seems contained, generally.

If I have to confess my guilty pleasure last summer was New York Goes to Hollywood, despite the cursing and many other behaviors that made my skin crawl, I sat through it. I was all for New York, even when she was looking for a lover and cursing left and right.  I put myself through the ringer giving her show a shot, and I actually liked it.

When all is said and done, I guess I can’t expect too much from a society where cursing too often replaces actual conversation. Some shows have more beeps than words and I actually am afraid that what we see on unscripted television may be more the way people act in real life than I will ever be comfortable with. It might just be my nightmare.

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About Francelene Aprahamian

  • Stephanie G.

    I have to say I agree with what you’re saying here. I don’t really enjoy reality shows and even if I watched a few of them and I mean very few, they never kept me interested enough to keep me as an audience member. On some of these shows, I had enough of just seeing a commercial of it to know I wouldn’t want to watch. Some of the reality shows they have on today are full of “bleeps” because the people on them apparently didn’t recieve an education and don’t know how to speak properly. I really don’t like watching a show in which all you hear is “bleep, she’s a bleep and bleep bleep”. I certainly wouldn’t be proud to be part of something like that, I don’t really understand how the participants on these shows are able to.

    Then there are other types of reality shows that are a crazy set up “somewhat scripted” very edited situations the contestants are set up in to win money, such as ‘Survivor’ or ‘Crowned’, that you mentioned, that are as far from reality as they can be. Life is not a beauty contest and for me surviving is trying to make ends meet at the end of the month and make sure my family has everything they need.

    The only type of reality show I do watch are shows I wouldn’t consider what they call “reality shows”. I’m talking about real talent contests, such as ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ or ‘American Idol’ in which they focus on giving a chance to talented people and even the ones who didn’t win did make their marks and ended up being very successful. What I love about these shows is that they don’t focus on all the petty fights the contestants may have or the silly converstions they have in front of the mirror when they wake up in the morning. They really focus on what the show is about and keep the personal lives personnal. That for me is entertaining.

    I’m the kind of person that really hates fighting and arguing so why would I want to watch other people do it on tv? I am really afraid that the lack of morals in some of these shows (and I do mean some of them because I a am aware that there are really good ones out there) will corrupt what we, parents who try to educate our children to be respectful, polite and watch the language they use.

    So where is society heading when we see the behavior some people have on some of these shows? Quite honestly, I don’t know but I sure don’t like it.

  • Deb W.

    I often find very little reality in “reality TV”. Even shows considered to be more documentary, like Life in the ER and Baby Story, tend to overplay the drama in the circumstance. Sure, trauma happens and emergency cesarean sections are required, but the fact that there is an emergency every ten minutes is not reality. Creative editing and mashing twelve hours of time into thirty or sixty minutes tends to increase the appearance of drama.

    Shows where you place people in hostile or unfamiliar circumstances where a prize is on the line can hardly be called reality. How often do you get the chance to win a large sum of money for “surviving”? That’s definitely not my reality, nor that of anyone else I know.

    Shows that chronicle the life of a celebrity or celebrity family can hardly be called reality. Most of the shows along those lines are so over-the-top it is impossible to take them seriously. Occasionally, they are entertaining, but more in the same way that watching a thirty minute sitcom or car crash can be. You either laugh or watch with your hands over your eyes…it’s so horrible you don’t want to watch, but you can’t keep from peeking.

  • Jamie

    Wow, very true. I agree with you on most point. I don’t watch much reality tv because I feel it’s not reality.. OK an example to my madness is “Big Brother” and “Survivor” I bring these two up because with Big Brother, you have everyone living under one roof and yet they all seem to get along, most of the times. To me that’s scripted because someon will be talking and then as if it were scripted the person talking gets cut off with a “that’s stupid” and yet they never finished their thought.

    Now with Survivor, my only qualm is how they heck do they always look so clean? How can that be considered Reality TV when they all look like the people on LOST?

    Going along with the bleeps in most Relaity shows just shows that us as a society feed off the language and profanity. HOw we wonder what was said, to a certain extent and to others it makes us cringe because the youngest generation is now starting to watch these Reality Shows and they pick up on so much.