Exploitation with Reality TV

My husband thinks I’m cruel and that I have no heart. He asks for a pulse everytime we go thru this and see it on TV. My eyes start to roll and I slap my hands on my lap as an indication of, “Here we go again.”

Please……allow me to embellish on that last paragraph.

I’ve watched my fair share of reality TV: Minute to Win It,  America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and Amazing Race just to name a few.

In all of these contests, there appears to be one common, consistent thread: tugging on the TV viewer’s heartstrings.

I believe you know what I’m referring to here. Let’s think back to a Minute to Win It episode where, at some strategic spot in the show, the host will ask the contestants what they will do with the money if they win.

Here it comes.  Get ready to break out the kleenex:

1. We want to get married, but Joe leaves for Afghanistan in three weeks and we have no money for weddings rings.

2. We have no home, and live in a tent in New York. We share it with rats who we’ve named Hubert and Ashram.

3. I want to go back to school after I had to quit because my mom made me become a prostitute to support the family. Oh, there she is in the audience…HI MOM!!!

4. My family has never, EVER had a vacation and I’m 85 years old….TODAY.

5. I have to pay off my therapist because I have a compulsion to write personal checks at the grocery check out line. I’m still paying for my medical bills from all the beatings I’ve received.

6. My mom and dad have no legs and no arms. I was raised by wolves and need money to build a house…in the woods….with flap doors to allow my friends to come and go as they please.

We’ve heard it all, and I’ve become numb to it. I’m almost sickened by listening to peoples’ problems as they get all teary eyed about their Uncle Fred or their Aunt Filomina who witnessed a bank robbery and the robbers got away with their whole life savings. So, I’ve got………..A MINUTE………….TO WIN IT!

This is what I call a TV network’s way of exploitation. Let’s take advantage of the naivete of the TV viewer and really make them feel a personal bond with the contestant. I’m sure that Lois in Santa Monica watching this particular show will find some sort of connection with Joe and Florence from Montego Heights since they, like she, had to sell all of their sheep to save their farm from financial ruin. Cue Moses to part the Red Sea….

Am I just a cruel bitch who just can’t sympathize with these people because I’ve become complacent and unsympathetic since there is just too much of it on TV, or is there some rationalization to what I’m saying?

I think there are too many reality TV shows out there. What happened to good ol’ Variety shows? Carol Burnett, Laugh In, and Sonny and Cher. Perhaps I’m aging myself here, but I thought Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, etc. were hysterical. I still do.

It’s the slapstick humor that’s gone and replaced with people who need money, or fame, or both. Bring back the Three Stooges during prime time! Who the hell wants to watch Real Wives of New Jersey, Orange County, New York, Atlanta or DC?

These women are painful to watch. Is everyone this dysfunctional, or do the networks want everyone to think this is normal???  Who the hell walks around in 5 inch heels in their home 24/7 with full makeup while they are cleaning their kitchen.

Wait. That couldn’t have happened. These women don’t clean ANYTHING. They have people to do that for them.

I was flipping thru channels and saw some fight break out at a party, a baby christening no less, between two men. I’m guessing it started because these family members don’t get along. And, apparently, this whole “Housewives” series is exactly about that – not getting along, and the dysfunctional dynamic these different groups have.

Maybe watching this sort of entertainment for some people makes their lives pale in comparison to what they are seeing on television. Perhaps the pain television viewers call “life” goes away for a moment or two so they can indulge in others’ dirty laundry, or maybe feel a little more normal since they connect with what they’re watching on TV.

Are people that miserable?


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