Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Fantasy of Reality TV

During college, the Real World seemed like a guilty pleasure--people my own age indulging in a life of excess and debauchery.  Those earliest seasons of the Real World may just be tame compared to what is scripted as "reality" tv now. 

There seems to be two options in reality tv today--Real/Informative and Dramatized.  The basic tenents of a television show make some scripting necessary.  You will have a shooting schedule and you will edit the tape to make the episode interesting.  I mean, no one wants to watch even 30 minutes of caulking or sod installation.  So even the programs that are real, have been pieced together to accentuate the entertainment value.

And then there are the overly dramatic, not real shows.  If looking at these shows individually, the argument could be made that they are harmless because they are just like scripted dramas or comedies.  The problem is that when anything is presented as reality, it becomes a standard by which we can measure ourselves.  We want more money, more things, better things, a different lifestyle.  We begin to long for the indulgences of others without regard to our own lives.  It's a Cinderella complex--magically we transform ourselves into a made-for-tv lifestyle. 

Why do we need to watch the lives of self-proclaimed desperate housewives, those who may or may not have been Amish but certainly have a closet full of secrets, or best of all a series devoted to a so-called Amish mafia?  We have become a society that seeks to tear down any aspect of our society that may have redeeming qualities.  Every aspect of society has problems but glamorizing them does not help to move our society forward and certainly not closer to God.

These glamorized lives can have devastating consequences. Broken marriages, suicide, criminal charges, emotionally damaged children, lost jobs, and drained finances are just the beginning.  I'm not suggesting that we all watch home improvement and cooking shows only.  Why not start by leaving the drama and scripting to the writers who create real dramas and comedies? 

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