Reality Check

Have We Lost Touch With Reality?

Have you noticed how so many shows on TV are “reality-based”? Reality TV runs rampant with shows like those God-awful Kardashians, Donald Trump, American Idol, and Biggest Loser. People love it.

And it doesn’t stop there. They started making reality shows out of cooking, taxidermy, pawn shops, crab fishing, going to random people’s houses and buying their crap, hunting ghosts, hunting bigfoot, hunting chupacabras and hunting other fictional monsters…

Survivors, big brothers and sisters, runways, models, amazing races, people who think they can dance, people who think they can sing, people who shoot guns, people who make guns, people who live in swamps, people who cut down trees, people who drive trucks on ice, people who dig for gold – It is mind numbing.

I guess you can’t really blame the TV people for sticking with what’s working. Just like the music industry, all they want is to make money, they don’t really care about the quality of the product.

And just like in the music industry, the problem lies with the audience. For whatever reason, people still eat up reality TV like it’s going out of style, just like they gobble up mainstream radio like it’s something new and amazing.

So in regards to the current state of TV, how did we end up here?  I blame Allen Funt, COPS, Jerry Springer, and The Blair Witch Project.  Are you intrigued?  Confused?  Let me explain.

If you don’t know who Allen Funt is, well, that’s OK because most people reading this probably won’t either. He was the host of a show called Candid Camera which debuted way back in 1948. (click here for Candid Camera clip). Candid Camera was basically the video version of Allen Funt’s radio show called Candid Microphone. Doesn’t sound as good as Candid Camera, does it?

Candid Camera ran off and on from 1948 until 2004. But well before 2004, people got bored with Candid Camera. Sure, at times it was funny, but it had become too predictable. Viewers began longing for something different.

And then in 1988 John Langley and Malcolm Barbour went to FOX and presented an idea to the network about a camera crew following around some law enforcement officials. It was also around this time that the Writers Guild of America were on strike (again) and FOX was looking for anything to fill up the time slots.  And since the show required no writers, FOX went with it.

COPS first debuted in 1989 and has been running ever since. Typically, viewers watch the show because it is full of low-class, low-educated, and ill-mannered people getting arrested. It makes the viewer feel better about themselves.

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