Reality TV – the ultimate oxymoron


I keep seeing reality TV shows pop up all over the place. They are a producer’s dream. Cheap, easy to produce – just find a theme, a bunch of people you can exploit, mix it all up and wham you have instant ratings. The first reality TV shows were sorta amusing. But now we seem to take perverse pleasure in seeing just how much public humiliation someone is willing to endure for some bucks or some fame.

Here’s the sad truth – reality TV, exploitative though it may be, get good ratings. Why? It gives us the chance to either feel better about ourselves because we don’t have these people’s problems or we feel worse about ourselves because we would never have the courage, nerve whatever to do what they did to get on TV. We may even feel both better and worse about ourselves for the same reason – because this is this “their” reality – not ours. No matter what we  feel though – we will feel something about ourselves and that is highly ego gratifying.

Now here’s the far sadder truth. Watching reality TV shows seem to be taking the place of our living real lives. We seem content to watch other people living lives – like travel shows about places we should go and see for ourselves or we watch 16 year old bratty kids have ridiculously extravagant birthday parties instead of marking the occasion with some meaningful recognition of the budding maturity in that sixteen year old.

Our virtual world occupies more of our lives than actually living does. Our real lives almost seem like interruptions to our virtual reality.

So let’s remember folks – reality TV is not possible. It is either real or it is TV. It can not be both. We would do well to remember the difference.

Judy Shapiro


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Judy Shapiro

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