Reality TV: An experiment in narcissism gone terribly wrong

Flash back to 1992. Anyone remember season one of The Real World? Seven strangers picked to live in a house with no Jacuzzi and no fancy colorful furniture. The Real World. My introduction to Reality Television.  Let’s think of it as my gateway drug so to speak. In 1992, The Real World a low budget social experiment. Very low budget. In 2011, the Real World season 1 house is a crappy New York loft compared to the modern-day Real World house. This seasons cast would be stunned if they arrived at a house of that form (although it might actually be funny to watch the arrival of a new cast to a house with that decor). The cast mates did not look like your next Playboy bunny, or Men’s Health model. They were regular people on TV. Seven real people with real life problems.

Stars of the original reality tv show, colour
Image via Wikipedia

 

 

What happened to the concept of reality television. Over the years, reality TV has exploited the lives of  many, and narcissism is spreading faster than a California wildfire.

I admit, I once loved a good reality TV show.  I had a strange addiction (I do relapse at times) to watching other people’s lives, while my own was just passing me by. I wanted to be on the Real World, and live in a house with six strangers. I went to college I was used to living with strangers, I was ready to be made famous by MTV. Or maybe not.

 Nearly 20 years after season 1 of the Real World, now mostly every TV station has their own reality TV show. Reality fills up the programming of Bravo and E!. Who do I need to talk to about getting my own show over there? I am exciting to watch, right? The cameras can be on me right now as I type this blog. I can even drink a glass of wine while typing for added enjoyment.

The “reality” of reality television is that so many people are willing to do anything to grab a quick 15 minutes of fame. Once the cameras have stopped rolling, the next struggle is to actually stay relevant. Sorry reality TV stars, Americans have a short attention span, once your time is up, it is really up.  There are always more people available who want to take their place on television.

In similar fashion as video killed the radio star, reality television has killed the actor. Sorry real actors. Watching people yell, scream, and poor drinks on each other is a much more entertaining form of scripted television. What ever happened to the sitcom? Oh wait, they still do exist sometimes. From watching Real Housewives who aren’t really housewives, to Basketball Wives who have never been married to a basketball player (and most likely never will be), we have managed to take the time to care a great deal  about other people’s lives to see what drama they will bring us on a weekly basis. What would be on E! network if the Kardashian family never existed? Kim Kardashian’s wedding special is really a 2 part series. Really? Don’t we all know what happens in the end anyway. What could they possibly show for 4 hours? I wonder, maybe some good old-fashioned staged tears, and complaints about virtually nothing. People are watching. Okay you got me, I may even watch just to see what the big deal is.

Yet, reality TV did teach us a few life lessons, let’s see who was actually paying attention:

1. Virtually anyone can instantly have reality TV fame. An adventure filled life is not needed. If you have a lot of money, even better. Overdramatize every aspect of your life, and BOOM, you’re a star!

2. Talent is not a necessity to attract an audience. So all of you people looking for your hidden talents to become a star can now stop. Just come as you are and we will accept you.

3. A pretty face and a hot body (preferably one that has been enhanced by a plastic surgeon) can take you a long way in life. Or, at least to a second or third season. Substance is not needed. Again ask Kim, Kendra, or that Tila Tequila chick.

4. If your mom is super power-hungry for her own fame, even better for you! Anyone watch Toddlers and Tiaras? Mom’s start taking lessons from Kris Jenner immediately.

5. Love on television does exist, sometimes. If your can’t find love on the bachelor, maybe you will find it on the bachelor pad. Keep trying, reality TV love is out there for you. Okay maybe not love, but a real quick hook up and dramatic breakup for sure!

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My letter to ABC: Can we add diversity to the Bachelor?

Rant Blog:

Dear ABC network,

Why is the Bachelor/Bachelorette so white bread? No really why is it so extremely white bread? I just don’t understand. Do you not realize that there are people of color who exist in this country, so how come a minority is yet to be chosen as the next Bachelor or Bachelorette?

Bachelorette,_The

I saw the advertisement saying to apply if I want to be on the show, but why do I have the strong sense that I will not be picked because I am an African American female? Now, now  I am not trying to call your station racist by any means, although there are plenty of racial undertones for the lack of minority presence on your network  however, I would like to just see a person of color actually have a chance at love too. I understand what your argument may be, you have the token black girl for the bachelor every once in a while who never makes it past the first few rose ceremonies or, you throw in one or two Hispanic girls to play the role of the sexy Latina.  Sure that is all well and great, but can minorities please stop being the token, and play the lead role. Sure Ali chose Roberto, well it’s a good thing she likes Hispanic men. But really he was one out of how many Hispanic men have been on this show in all the seasons?

I will admit, I am not an avid watcher of the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, and it may because every season is like the one before, except names a faces change.  ABC network, a touch of diversity will not kill the show.

Sure you may have your hesitations, understandable.  VH1 does a good job of exploiting the roles of African American’s looking for love, and I am sure the madness you must have witnessed on Flava of Love, or I Love New York doesn’t help the cause of having an African American Bachelor/Bachelorette on a reputable network such as yours. But I can assure you ABC, there are a plethora of very smart, talented, goal oriented, African American and Hispanic individuals who can play the lead role, and even live in a house together without your show turning into the theme show for all things ghetto. Minorities do have an equal amount of class as White Americans, and can keep the dignity of your network if the opportunity is given in the appropriate manner.

So ABC, take a minute to think about it, diversity! Now I know the next Bachelor will probably be one of the men whom Ali sent home, so he will be another White man. But at least attempt to change things up a bit, add some more African American or Hispanic women. Please more than just the token one or two that are there to mask your hidden underlying form of racism. Let’s really show that America is diverse and give other ethnicities and chance to find love on the Bachelor/Bachelorette.

And hey if your ratings go down at least you took a chance to show America something different.

THE BACHELOR: ON THE WINGS OF LOVE -