With the recent surge in reality television, I have decided to create my own
hit series called "The Communicator." I need someone to be in charge
of my phone decisions. So every time a telemarketer calls, urging me to move
my phone plan to another galaxy, I will transfer them directly to The Communicator.
At that point, I would hope the telemarketer would be told that I'm locked
into a contract until the year 2348, but that it was OK to call back after
Sure this sounds like a pretty crummy job, ranking up there with an electrical
outlet tester or a professional pencil sharpener. But it will be on TELEVISION,
which of course means the excitement and drama of the tryouts to be on the
show, as well as the actual job, will be immensely overdone and vastly popular.
Even though reality television, in itself, seems a bit of an oxymoron (if
it's on TV, is it real-i-ty?), I definitely laud the producers who earn excellent
ratings with their respective shows. And some of the shows are really intriguing
and so addicting that if they came in a bottle, you would see a huge surgeon
general's warning, complete with a skull and crossbones symbol that closely
resembles Simon from "American Idol."
Reality TV is nothing new; the first show aired more than
30 years ago on PBS. According
to the Web site, "An American Family" was
a 12-hour documentary broadcast in 1973 about a middle-class American family.
The ratings were great, but controversy surrounded the show due to its portrayal
of marital tensions and the lifestyle of the oldest son, who was possibly the
first openly gay person to appear in a TV show.
While the program was short-lived, "An American Family" set the
stage for the current wave of reality TV. From
wordIQ, there are three basic types of reality TV: the docusoap ("The Real World," "The Bachelor," "The
Newlyweds"); the hidden camera, I GOT YOU! show ("Candid Camera," "Punk'd");
and the game show ("Survivor," "American Idol," "The
Apprentice"). It's actually frightening to see the entire
list of these shows, almost as if you would think they would run out of ideas. But they haven't
even come close! Apparently, they (meaning the aliens, er, producers who come
up with these things) are even working on a series where people play golf.
I wish I could say I was making that up.
The Orwell Project contains the most comprehensive coverage to reality TV,
including the latest news, show descriptions, a message board and even casting
calls. I considered listing my new show here, but I figured just advertising
in a column should suffice. I'm also thinking about casting for a reality series
that is about making a reality series. Isn't that like looking into two facing
So what is so extraordinary about a reality television show? Why is it so
mesmerizing that even the "Golden Girls" can't compare? I've watched
approximately half of the shows on the list, but I've never followed any of
them. The closest I came was back-to-back episodes of the second "Survivor" season
and one-and-a-half episodes of "Joe Millionaire." But after a quick
survey of friends, I found I was definitely in the minority. I would say three-fourths
of them had at least one favorite reality show and a handful of others they
Among the favorites:
American Idol: Is there anyone on the planet who has not watched this show?
I'm not sure what is crazier: last year's third-place finisher Kimberly Locke
hitting No. 1 on Billboard charts, or the fact that we had a family duet
competition, Idol-style, on vacation a few years back.
Eye for the Straight Guy: Home decorating/personal makeover shows appear
to be the newest reality niche. This one does the trick because girls can
appreciate the design work and guys might get a clue how to impress girls.
Survivor: It's startling that this show has survived for so long, with TV turnover
equaling that of most professional sports teams' managers. The Survivor All-Stars,
the current series, was a great idea to bring back the favorites. One of
my friends obtained a passport in hopes of making the show, so hopefully
there will be a few more seasons.
The Newlyweds: This might be the most realistic thing on TV. The nice guy
follows the pretty girl around and watches her make the decisions. While most
people seem to think Jessica is just a dumb blonde, I don't because she's making
more money than me just walking around her house!
So what is your take on reality TV? What are your favorite and least-favorite
shows? Email me at
and give me your opinion. Next month,
I'll put together all the comments about this phenomena. Unfortunately, true