Get Real

I hate Reality programming. Hate it.
February 1, 2001

I hate Reality programming. Hate it.

I don’t even understand why it’s called ‘reality’. At what point in my life will I run an island foot race with a fat naked man (á la Survivor), or be trapped in a resort with dozens of singles hell-bent on having sex with me (Temptation Island)? When – oh, please tell me when – will I be able to hunt my fellow man for sport (Manhunt)? None of this is ‘real’. At best, it’s unscripted drama, but it isn’t real.

However, it’s hard to argue against something when the response to your every objection is: ‘Ya, but it pulled in ten million viewers.’

It’s base. It appeals to the worst in human nature. I feel that much dumber after an hour of it"

Ya, but it pulled in ten million viewers. (And it cost peanuts")

CBS’ network competitor NBC is concerned enough about losing all those viewers that it has moved its two top comedies to run against Survivor II – its two top comedies to run against a ‘reality’ series. We’re through the looking glass here people.

And the worst part of it is that I can’t even watch the damn shows. If I do, I find myself getting sucked in, actually caring whether O-Town is going to get their record deal on Making the Band, or whether that naked fat man is going to win that race. An hour later, I switch it off, having had my trip on an emotional roller coaster and feeling a little unclean. It’s all so embarrassing.

And it shows no sign of stopping. Maybe it will be good for factual. Maybe it will make major broadcasters realize non-fiction is the solution to viewer fragmentation. Maybe viewers will migrate from reality to other forms of factual.

In the meantime, if anyone needs me I’ll be watching Antiques Roadshowon PBS, and doing my best to forget about that fat naked guy.

Brendan Christie


About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.