Let’s face it, Reality TV is generally horrible. MTV should change its name since it really does not show music videos anymore but instead has a long list of really bad reality shows like “Tool Academy”, “Bad Girl’s Club” and “From G’s to Gents” (which I actually like but still realize that it is horrible). Some of these bad shows are like watching a train wreck. It is hard sometimes to switch the stations. Other shows are so bad that they are easier to avoid like “The Karadashians” or “Real Housewives of Orange County” or “Jersey Shore”. Some shows are not even worth mentioning such as “The Surrreal World” and “I Love New York”.
But some reality TV is still compelling and the following titles are on my list of reality tv shows that don’t suck.
One of the best reality shows of all time is still “Survivor”. No matter where they dump off these people we are fascinated to watch as they live off of rice and fish (or sometimes bats and rats like James did with relish) for thirty days straight. The infighting is still real juicy and even after years the show still ranks high on the list of reality TV shows on the networks. When they go off to tribal council and someone gets blindsided, you realize that the trick is how the producers decide to edit the show. But as Eisenstein showed us many decades ago, every movie or TV show is created from whole cloth in the editing room.
Another in my short list of reality TV shows that don’t completely suck is the great and long running “American Idol”, which is arguably the best of the bunch. This is an amazing feat because in essence all it really is a talent show with lots of production value and better contestants for the most part. The best part of the show each season is the very beginning when people line up for hours and hours to be heard by the panel. These “audition” shows are great because you get to hear the worst and funniest singing in the world. People are hilarious and it is because they are completely deluded. This is where you can see just how crazy the general public is and believe me, it is frightening. But, like bad karaoke, you can’t turn away from it or switch the channel. Once they get well into the show it usually becomes more boring, but the beginning is golden.
Although reality TV had been around in one form or another for many decades, it really gained momentum during the writer’s strike in the mid 1990s. The producers had to fill up air time and that gave us a few really good shows, and dozens more that were horrible beyond words. Let’s just hope that the writers stay on for a little while longer. On the other hand, I would much rather watch “Tila Tequila” than “CSI: Miami” any day of the week.