Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Real Problem with Reality

For awhile now, I have been a reality TV junkie. I'm not saying I watch every show that's out there, but I am usually hooked to a few shows at a time. And, I have definitely had points in my life where I'm watching entirely too much reality television.

But, recently, I've phased off of a lot of it. I think I got tired of watching all the calculated deception on shows like Survivor and the unlikely long-term successes of The Bachelor (which, yes I have watched every season of that until this season, mind you!)

Lately, I've started pondering over what impact these kind of shows may be having on society. I know they are not MADE for deep-thinking, but I wonder what lasting impacts they will make. Take a show like The Apprentice, where the game is all about control and manipulation. What does that teach viewers really, especially younger viewers? On Trump's show, does the person who works the hardest, and has the most integrity and does the right thing typically win? Or is it the person who knows how to work people, how to deceive and how to use the system to their advantage that gets the prize in the end?

Let's say that the average adult can watch this for entertainment and marvel at how clever some of the contestants are in their scheming to get to the top. And, they can turn off the t.v. and walk away with their mind unaffected--in their own working world or when they face challenges in life.

But, what about our youth? Will they be able to view the show as just a competition and fun for viewers? Or the next time they are up for a promotion, will they think about to Episode 27 when Bill lied about his Grandmother dying to get brownie points and sympathy and used that to his advantage to get ahead?

Or am I taking this all too seriously all of the sudden?

Even with this, one show continues to reel me in and inspire me, and that's The Biggest Loser. I've even roped my hubby into watching this season with me. The hard work these people must go through and the life-changes they must make continue to motivate me to get on the right track with my own life. Their hurdles are so large that mine seem more like molehills to overcome, and that's helpful to me.

Last night, I cut off the show at the end feeling disappointed and disgusted, along with probably many other viewers. One player chose to down two gallons of water right before weigh-in and proceeded to purposely gain 17 pounds in one week (yes, that's not a type-o..I am still in awe of how one person could even physically do this) to gain advantage, get one of their new teammates (one who was particularly honest and inspirational) thrown off the show when it came to the final vote. And, this player will now have the edge next week when they drop the most weight after losing all of that water weight. And, worse than this, was the fact that the other players were not all appalled into voting him off--instead voting off one of the good guys on the show.

It really spit in the face of what this show has been all about from the beginning. The trainers were disgusted and embarrassed, as were some of the players. But, in the end, the water-logged player basically said "game on," and smirked in the face of those with dropped jaws.

What measures would you take to win in your life? At what cost is society paying to watch this sort of stuff each day? Will watching this sort of "reality" change us inside, unconsciously? Will we become more calculating in our lives without even knowing it?

I will still keep watching The Biggest Loser for now, because I believe what they are trying to teach people is good and the show has an admirable goal, but I will watch with caution and curiosity as to what these sort of shows are doing to our culture.
While we're talking losing weight and good health, I thought I'd mention a great cookbook giveaway and also get my chance in to win it. If you like Taste of Home magazine, Mommy Coddled is giving away one and a free subscription to the magazine of your choice. Head on over here and enter if you're interested!

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Blogger Thumper said...

Good, I wasn't the only one ticked off last night. And I was so disappointed that they didn't kick the cheater off.'s not the first time someone has used weight manipulation to his favor, but this is the first time someone did it with the specific intent to take out a particular team.

But the water loading...that was devious, unfair, and DANGEROUS. And I must admit, I won't see the remaining players who kept him on in the same light. I'll be rooting for the three that voted for him to be booted off.

12:37 PM, October 24, 2007  
Blogger Dipu said...

The spate of reality shows may get even worse come January, as there might be a writer's guild strike soon. That means no new scripted shows in development until it's resolved. Reality shows don't need writers and scripts (at least not in the traditional sense), so networks may have no choice but to fill airtime with a glut of reality shows...

11:20 PM, October 24, 2007  

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