Reality TV is by-and-large terrible. It’s misleading, edited for dramatic effect, and – in many cases – scripted. Which makes it FICTION by the way, not reality. We’re inundated with the same formula for these programs: shoot endless amounts of footage of people doing relatively mundane things, edit it in a sensational manner, and splice in interviews with cast members who recall their “feelings” during various situations. Stations like TLC, A&E, Discovery, History, and National Geographic used to be known for quality programming. Now they carry an endless parade of garbage like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers and Tiaras, Say Yes To The Dress, Most Dangerous Catch, America’s Next Top Model, Parking Wars, Extreme Makeover, Ice Road Truckers, Restaurant Stakeout, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, The Biggest Loser, Jersey Shore, Bachelor Pad, Storage Wars, American Chopper, Survivor, All American Gypsy, Big Brother, Breaking Amish, and on and on and on. These are all just Jerry Springer with higher production values. And at least you knew Jerry Springer was fake (at least I hope you did).
To be completely transparent, there are some types of “reality” TV that I enjoy: some of the game shows (e.g. Wipeout), ones that involve building things, cooking, or performing (though I’m pretty sure American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor are ruining music and Dancing With The Stars is destroying dance), and programs that explore history, nature, science, technology, society, etc. Basically I’ll watch a show that engages me in such a way that I can watch people compete, learn something, or appreciate someone’s talent; there’s value in these things. But please don’t try to convince me that the shows listed above provide some sort of piercing educational insight into North American culture. They don’t. People like to watch a train wreck (it’s called schadenfreude) and you’re deluding yourself if you think these shows are anything other than repeat viewing opportunities. Which is why the vast majority of reality TV, like all trash, needs to be put out on the curb because it’s stinking up the place.