Okay, I've just come out of my reality TV coma, after spending 8 hours yesterday watching the first season of America's Next Top Models on VH-1. In my defense, I never saw the first season, and it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk yesterday. It was great to see what the show was like before it became so popular. The budget was definitely shoestring on this one, and Tyra's hair was relatively normal. Even Janice Dickinson was less annoying then she is now.
Now that summer is here, and the regular TV season is over, it seems like TV has been taken over by reality TV. There's Super Nanny, Nanny 911, The Cut, Blow-Out, Hell's Kitchen, Kept, Strip Search, Dancing with the Stars, The Real Gilligan's Island, Bridezilla's, Single in Atlanta, Real World/Road Rules Inferno II, Beauty and the Geeks, Average Joe Strikes Back and another series of Big Brother. And what's even scarier is the fact that I know all this.
When did Reality TV take over our television airwaves? It seemed to start so slowly. First there was the Real World, and then Road Rules on MTV. But then nothing, until one day Mark Burnett came up with Survivor and all hell broke loose. Networks realized that Reality TV shows cost nothing to produce, all you needed was a great concept. I could blame England for this, the country that gave us Monty Python, and Fawlty Towers, is also responsible for Big Brother.
Okay, I sound a little hypocritical complaining since I watch them, but as a former actress, I feel guilty watching shows that have put so many actors out of work. I'm not counting the Surreal Life, which has given a new lease to every former celebrity in town. They're addictive like Lays potato chips, you can't seem to watch just one. Frankly, I prefer the ones where contestants are actually working towards something like Hell's Kitchen or Project Runway, shows where the participants lives are goiong to change because they'll be living their dreams.
As opposed to a show like the Swan or Extreme Makeover, which I think actually harm people. I've given up on The Bachelor/The Bachelorette although Charlie's season was pretty entertaining. Loved the fact that the women had to sleep in bunk beds in tiny rooms, and that they actually got to leave the apartment when they weren't on a date instead of being sequestered like tubercular patients or a jury.
What really gets me is that people seem to actually have careers doing Reality TV shows. I wonder is it just the fame (Andy Warhol's famous pronouncement that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Thanks Andy!), or not having to have a 9-5 job in a crappy office?
Now everyone has a reality TV show, Jerry Hall, Martha Stewart, Bobby Brown, Britney and Kevin. (Note to Britney, no one really wants to know about your sex life with Kevin! There is such a thing as TMI. Learn to keep some mystery. Eww! I don't need to know you that well. You just sing, and I'll listen to you on the radio.)
I have a confession to make: I once tried out for a reality TV show. Actually it was A Dating Story on TLC. I figured I'd get to meet someone interesting, and have a fun story to tell my friends and grand kids. I sent my picture in, and low and behold they called me. I think the fact that I was unemployed at the time might have been a huge detriment, but I tried and I didn't have to stand on line to do it.
It takes a cerrtain amount of chutzpah to audition for one of these shows, so I can't fault the contestants. You either have to be crazy or extremely confident to allow a camera to follow your every move, to let a producer edit you as they see fit. I raise my glass to you.
Still, it's clear to me after this weekend, that I need to get a life, get out of the house. So with that in mind, I'm off to a Taste of Times Square this evening. Bon Appetit!
Is there a reality show that you're addicted to? Are they cluttering the airwaves. Tell me what you think?