Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reality TV is Not Reality

[I'm bumping up this entry because another season of The Bachelorette has started.]

It should come as no surprise to any adult with any sense that "reality" television is not reality. News teams that attempt to give us reality for the sake of informing us quite often fail to provide reality (often by what they don't show) - so shows that are openly about entertainment certainly aren't going to be reality.

I bring this up now not just because another season of that joke, The Bachelor, has come and gone, but because comedian and podcast superstar Adama Carolla recently explained a few important things we didn't see on a recent episode of Celebrity Apprentice. As the article points out, since real charities will have to deal with real consequences as a result of how the show plays out, it is a little more important how producers manipulate the situation than, say, what happens on the latest Kardashian series or season of The Bachelor.

I like Adam's work. If nothing else, I would have liked to see him continue on the show because of the humor he brought to it.

"Reality" television is not reality. It simply features characters who are aware, and behave according to that awareness, that they are on a television show. What is that? Postmodern? Self-aware? There's probably a better term than "reality".

On Law and Order SVU, the character Detective Benson is not aware she is on a television show.

On The Bachelor, every single one of the participants is a character, even if the actors are using their real names or actual stage names, who are all aware they are on a reality show. Same goes goes for Survivor or Celebrity Apprentice or Storage Wars any other "reality" show.

Just as it is with other television shows, the writers, directors, producers, and editors can craft the shows to portray the characters in way the performers might not be like in their lives.

The difference is, more people are likely to realize that a character on a "scripted" sitcom or drama is not the same as the actor portraying that character. Yes, some people have had trouble with that, but I think fewer people have trouble with that than with "reality" shows. Since some reality shows record and entire season before any of it airs, the participants might have no clue what's being done to their character until it is too late to attempt to do anything about it.

See this previous entry on The Bachelor and this one as well.

[For what it is worth, producers and participants have pretty much revealed that the shows of The Bachelor franchise are somewhat artificial and "scripted" or a put-on, rather than reality.]

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