I have been watching a little more TV than usual lately. I don’t know why that is, but since I have mastered the art of my DVR system, I find it great fun to “tape” shows and then run through them at 100 mph skipping all the commercials and usually seeing a 60 minute program in about 40 minutes.
What I cannot understand is the absolute saturation I find of these “reality” shows. They go from the truly inane to the extraordinarily ridiculous to just plain stupid. This is a bone of contention between MOTNSO (“More Often Than Not Significant Other”) and me since he just seems to not be able to get enough of them. I’ll be off doing something during one of his weekend visits and I’ll come back to find him either with his nose in a book (he reads several at one time) or just plopped on the couch, clicker in hand, going back and forth between something terrible like Rattlesnake Republic and Storage Wars.
When we first met, I found it rather endearing that he enjoyed programs like Cash in the Attic and Antiques Roadshow…he was extremely enthusiastic when some poor person came in with the odd painting found in Aunt Millie’s attic to discover that it was an original Picasso. I could join MOTNSO in that; I always cheer for the underdog and if Aunt Millie’s nephew has been out of work or has a kid to put through college, I’m even happier. But since we’ve been dating for over three years, I no longer find it amusing when he would prefer to watch Deadliest Catch than Boardwalk Empire. (An aside here: I think Deadliest Catch is basically the same story ever week…they go out to catch crab, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Two crew members get into a fight. Someone has trouble at home. It’s cold and there’s a storm coming. There’s a birthday. Something always breaks on the boat which could mean “the end of the season.” It’s the same thing with the several gold mining shows. Sometimes they find gold, sometimes they don’t. Two miners get into a fight. Equipment breaks, which could mean the end of their quest. Etc., etc., etc.)
So, I became curious about reality shows and decided to do a little research. So where did I go? To the modern-day ”source” …that being Wikipedia. Whether it is accurate or inaccurate it certainly provided a (shockingly) thorough listing of “reality shows” and even categorized them.
I know you are sitting on the edge of your chairs to hear what I found out, so:
There are 69 “Docustyle” shows…this is including The Real Housewives of Orange County, New Jersey and Atlanta and of course, the infamous Jersey Shore. I have spent more time defending the real New Jersey Shore since that show first aired than I have ever defending anything in my entire life.
There are 70 “Dating” shows. All the Bachelors/Bachelorettes (which are aired in several countries) and Matchmaker shows not to mention a salty list of some x-rated titles that I never knew existed, nor do I want to know when they are on TV.
Sadly, only four reality shows fall into the category of “Science”…Mythbusters is a favorite among some of my grandchildren.
You can have a style “Makeover” (or your home, your car, your life) on any one of the 35 shows that air.
Hopefully, you will never appear on any of the 20 “Law and Order” type reality fests…and I don’t even think they listed America’s Dumbest Drivers among those, a MOTNSO favorite. “Military” themed shows are also included in this category.
History is relived in 18 programs, but there are only 11 shows categorized as “spoofs.” (My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance would be considered a “spoof.”)
Game shows? there are 63 “reality” game shows and “play-0ffs.” I never realized it, but Beat the Clock which I remember watching back in 1958 was probably the first of these. Wipeout, I blushingly admit, is one that I do watch, always yelling “OH! that’s going to leave a mark!” when the contestants crash into walls.
Are you ready for this? there are 119 talent search reality shows. You thought there was only American Idol and The Voice? Sorry, they are just the most well-known. Another bit of television history? You may remember The Original Amateur Hour and Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts from the late ’40′s and early ’50′s. They were the fore-runners of the big time. JLo was only a glint in the eye back then, but I think Steven Tyler was around. And CeLo was what you did when you looked under your bed.
23 “hidden camera” shows, 16 “parodies” (The Office is included in that list) and 39 “lifestyle changes” (What Not To Wear and The Biggest Loser are two of those) are also counted. I almost forgot to mention Hoarders and Extreme Celebrity Detox in this category. I’m not sure if the celebrity is considered to be the extreme, or the detox in that one. I’ve never seen it.
Now to my personal “favorite”…”Docusoaps”…OMG. I thought The Osbournes was absolutely hilarious the few times I ever saw it and I so loved going by their former digs when I’d take a visiting friend on the tour of Hollywood Stars’ homes in LA. But then came Jon and Kate + Eight. We all know how that ended. Not to mention Gene Simmons The Family Jewels, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood and The Simple Life, which was anything but “simple” since it starred Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton. Would you believe that the very first “docusoap” was This Is Your Life in 1952? I remember my Mom watching that and sometimes tearing up when they’d bring on some long lost friend to meet up with “the star.” I didn’t get it then, but apparently she was ahead of her time.
So, to go back to the title Really, Reality? I guess to some people it is. To me it’s just a waste of time when you could be doing something productive. Like surfing the net or playing Scrabble on line. Or counting how many reality shows there are on TV.