Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reality TV Prognosis: Bleak

For many years now, I’ve been slowly losing my faith. Not in matters of God or humanity, but in television. Ever since I was young, I turned to TV for solace, comfort, and a sense of continuity that remained unshaken. Every Saturday morning, there were cartoons; as certain as the rising of the sun. The Dukes of Hazard were always there, ready to slide into their car through the window and do an unnecessarily long car jump for my amusement. It was the way of things. As I grew up, my choice in shows differed, but the quality and nature of the shows remained somewhat constant, with only subtle changes in the use of vulgarities and butt cheeks. Then one day, the gods of television entertainment decided to begin the most horrendous, idiotic, mind-numbing programming idea ever: Reality Television.

At first, like most people, I was drawn into this world of voyeurism with childlike curiosity and excitement. Watching real people living together in a real house was so Real World! I didn’t watch it religiously, nor did I really pay much attention to it…but the show didn’t bother me, because it was ONE show on ONE network (MTV) on ONE day of the week; so I could avoid it, if I felt the need to.

Then, all of the sudden, some yahoo over at the networks decided that reality TV was going to be the next best thing, since humans found fire. He/She then decided that they would deluge the American people with nothing but new reality shows; each one designed to out-shock the one before it. Before we knew what hit us, shows like Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, and Fear Factor were all that were on television…and that’s only to name a few. Every week, it seemed, I would hear about new shows that tried to shock and degrade their cast for the entertainment of the masses. Eating bugs and betrayal were the new morals; crushing your opposition with whatever means necessary to win became the new maxim. Family values, friendship, and caring came a very distant 2nd in the hierarchy of lessons that television began to teach us.

My faith in television waned, and eventually dissolved completely, until I found myself telling people who asked me if I had seen who got fired that week on The Apprentice my new motto: “I don’t watch TV much, anymore.”

Holy crap. Never before, would I have muttered such a profanity as to say that I didn’t watch television. My companion throughout the years had betrayed me, and I was forced to find other ways to occupy my time. Books, games, carefully prepared dinners involving spices and herbs…anything to fill the void. Of course, I still own a television and I had a few shows that I watched on a weekly basis: but slowly those became distant shadows; memories of a long-forgotten time in which “Must See TV” became “Reality Week”.

I do not watch reality shows. I find them to be degrading, idiotic, and worthless. I’ve also always known that this opinion is the minority…too many people watch this crap, or else it wouldn’t be on the air. Money, money, money…sell, sell, sell. Until people stop watching, no end will come to this phenomenon that has sucked dry the intelligence and character of the evening television lineup.

I honestly began to think that this trend would become more than a trend; that it would become the new programming norm. I worried that perhaps my children would only grow up watching shows starring morally corrupt and repulsive people like Paris Hilton…all hope would be lost.

Then, suddenly, my faith slowly began to restore itself: a simple poll on CNN showed me that reality television might slowly be dying off. The poll was on the new American Idol finale…something that used to be top of the ratings, and something that people couldn’t wait to find out. But today, the polls show that people are beginning to feel the way I’ve felt since the very first Temptation Island aired all those years ago: people are getting bored of reality TV. I will let the poll, speak for itself. I have not altered the numbers, nor have I added my own “flair”. This is how it was, when I voted this morning:

Will you be watching the “American Idol” final?

-Yes, avidly: 14% (16905 votes)
-Just the last 10 minutes: 11% (13243 votes)
-Avoiding like the plague: 74% (87872 votes)

YES! 74% of the American public doesn’t give one crap about who wins American Idol this season. That is HUGE. With numbers like these, the dawn of a new age in television, without reality shows jamming up the schedules, begins to peak above the horizon.

I’m sure that it will take almost twice as long for this reality trend to die, as it did to spawn it. But the fact that there is now HOPE that they will die out, is enough to make me giddy to the point of dancing.

Will we ever survive the onslaught of Reality TV? Will it ever dissipate completely? Probably not…but I’m guessing that someday, somehow…they will become back-burner shows, with a minority cult following that will rival Pro Hockey.

One can hope.


Elizabeth said...

Amen, brotha. I don't watch television much, either.

But at my advertising agency, everyone discusses the new tv spots and shows. Sometimes I feel like I should watch it every once in a while just to get caught up. Well, I caught a minute of FaciliDate last night and I wanted to vomit.

However, I've heard good things about shows like "Arrested Development." I keep meaning to check it out.

Greg said...

Uh...that's 74% of CNN viewers that avoid the AI Finale.

They had over 500,000,000 votes, and the ratings were the highest ever for the show.

Sorry, bro...unfortunately, that shit is here to stay.