I admit, I have never really understood the appeal of “reality” television. These highly scripted skits have similar production value and believability of your high schooler’s production of “Avenue Q”. Yes, I did religiously watch the first seasons of Survivor and American Idol and when I am really desperate for entertainment late at night, you might catch me watching a random episode of Auction Hunters or Pawn Stars. And yes, I will be forced to check out Comic Book Men when it appears. But the moment the focus turns to Chumley’s latest scripted idiocy or contrived foul-up, I check out. At that point the very thin illusion of reality completely melts away and you are left watching regular old, really bad TV. If that is the case, why not watch the latest episode of Up All Night. At least it has a cute baby to distract you from the slowly encroaching darkness of death. Yet, even in the cesspool of reality TV, I think there is a special ring reserved for the shows that TLC puts on the air (and Lifetime, which is essentially the kid sitting at the next desk copying off TLC’s test). For some reason, this channel has decided that the best use of their broadcast time is to televise child abuse. No longer is it enough to sit back and laugh at the revolting actions of “adults” as they interact with other “adults”, TLC has decided to make stars out of people whose only defining characteristic is that they are evil to children. Whether it is by deciding they want to personify the baby-making machine of “A Brave New World” or borrowing all of their parenting techniques from the “How to Raise a Stripper” guidebook, the featured performers know that the secret to their success and fleeting fame is their irresponsible parenting and the more awful a parent they are, the more attention they get. And oh how they need that attention. Apparently though there is an audience for these things. I have heard all kinds of rationalizations for why people would want to revel in a child’s televised misery, but not one excuse has made any sense to me. Then again, I don’t understand the appeal of “reality” TV.
This blog post is sponsored by Dunder Mifflin.