What has happened to network and cable TV? I used to enjoy watching comedies, dramas, and documentaries, but since the advent of MTV, the airwaves have been inundated with reality TV programs. Are the Nielsen Ratings accurate? Do more people prefer not to watch quality, albeit political and controversial writing such as David E. Kelly (Boston Public, Boston Legal, the practice)?
I'm guilty of sometimes watching Kimora Lee Simmons, America's Next Top Model reruns, or Dancing with the Stars, when I should be writing, revising, or reading one of the books on my reading list.
It'd be easier to turn off the TV, or tune into another channel. I like watching National Geographic and Animal Planet, but oftentimes the cat fights between the aspiring models, world travelers, and personal assistants to the aforementioned celebrities can be more entertaining than watching a brown bear or jaguar hunt prey in the wild. The only deaths on these reality shows are emotional and spiritual, unlike the inevitable end when a bear or large cat claws a gazelle or deer.
Reality TV has a traffic accident quality to it. I laugh when incompatible people try to make a love match, cringe at the drunken displays on balconies or rooftops, and avert my eyes when housemates plot and scheme against each other. There seems to be an endless supply of people who'll submit embarrassing audition tapes, post on YouTube, or stand in line in the freezing cold or searing heat.
I think the only reality show that's yet to air is a Creative Writing Show, that would pit would-be short story writers, novelists, screenwriters, and poets against each other for an agent and two-book publishing or studio production deal. There's a similar concept online at Gather, and of course every November there's National Novel Writing Month.
My main gripe with reality shows is that they're duplicates of each other. Are there no original ideas in Hollywood and New York? Tyra Banks created her profitable franchise, and I've channel-surfed through several shows that pit female and male models against each other, the most ridiculous being America's Most Smartest Model, where one of the penalties is eating sugary, fatty foods, which would ruin a model's physique.
Then there's this show, Flipping Out. What can be said about shows on Bravo TV? Obviously there's an audience for these shows, but why do they proliferate? Every original show has its detractors and copycats. How many home improvement, cooking, designing, modeling, hooking up shows can we watch? If we're all watching TV, we're not doing anything after we're home from school or work. Sitting in front of the TV only adds pounds to our bottoms and inches to our waistlines. Wait, there are fitness and exercise shows when we're too fat to move from the sofa, remote control in hand.