Mindless TV

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2003

&uot;Enough already!&uot;

I shouted, as I watched a preview last night for yet another stupid reality TV show. The concept of voyeurism has taken the airwaves by storm and I can only assume the ratings are through the roof. Otherwise, how would we end up with a prime-time jewel like &uot;Who Wants to Marry My Dad&uot;?

How about &uot;Big Brother 4&uot; and &uot;Dog Eat Dog&uot;? And, don’t forget &uot;Meet My Folks,&uot; &uot;Race to the Altar,&uot; &uot;Survivor,&uot; &uot;Joe Millionaire,&uot; and a newcomer this fall – &uot;The Restaurant&uot; (which by the way, TV Guide has given 4 stars). There is of course, the all-time winner of reality TV – &uot;The Bachelor&uot;!

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I am honestly ashamed to admit it, but I have actually watched some of this garbage. Desperate for a cognitive download after a long day at work (and absent of any alcohol in the house), I too have fallen prey to the seduction of these programs. In search of thoughtless TV, requiring no intellect or commitment on my part, I succumb to the siren-like appeal of reality-based programming.

Who in America can honesty say they did not want to know whom Krista would bestow with the final red rose? Would it be the GQ accountant or the super-hunky, tall, dark and silent fireman, Ryan? Heck, I’m even embarrassed I remember the names of these shows and the people in them. To think that I, who at times can’t even remember my own name, can actually recall of random individuals I saw while channel surfing six months ago is appalling.

Americans have become so enthralled with this type of programming; we plan our lives around the green sheet. I guess the networks hoped the concept of &uot;appointment TV&uot; would come back into popularity, and clearly it has. Dinners stop, phone calls end, chores go undone – all so we can tune in to the next episode of &uot;Who Wants to Marry My Dad?&uot;

Do we really care who this guy marries and why his kids are making the selection? Is he so desperate that he needs a team of network marketing experts to recruit potential mates? I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I want to see a 45-year-old man make-out with 12 different women in rapid succession just so he can determine with whom he has &uot;chemistry&uot;? Where I come from we have a name for that sort of thing – though I won’t type it here.

Based on my observation, nothing offends us anymore. Jerry Springer and Howard Stern are still on the air, so why should we be at all shocked that forming alliances, harassing your enemy and betraying your mother with an audience of millions would be offensive? With new reality shows coming out daily, I wonder if we will need to have Academy Awards anymore. Certainly we won’t start giving &uot;everyday&uot; folks awards for portraying (and humiliating) themselves on national television.

As I sit here typing, I’ve seen commercials for two more reality shows, &uot;Cupid&uot; and &uot;For Love or Money.&uot; Seriously, we are living &uot;ED TV&uot; all the time. I think you would be hard pressed to find a non reality- based TV program any night of the week. In fact, I cannot seem to find a decent drama or sitcom on any station.

By no means am I endorsing censorship or the sudden demise of the reality TV concept. I’m simply questioning the value of living vicariously through your favorite TV personality, versus going out into the world and living life firsthand.

There’s something to be said for the real thing.

Rebecca Hill is the advertising director and a regular News-Herald columnist.