Friday, July 22, 2011
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS: Gordon Ramsay Has Too Many Shows and the Real Housewives Need to Go Away!
This week's IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS is going to be a short "pontification," so to speak. In recent years, I have noticed a massive decline in our culture. Yes, I said it, a decline. On almost every channel (broadcast and cable), network programmers are moving further and further away from the imaginative towards the "realistic." Reality Television has wedged its way into our culture like a termite that just refuses to be exterminated. And it is for a very good reason why this is so: It's cheaper. With Reality TV, networks don't have to pay writers and actors (what networks consider) exorbitant salaries and union fees that most frequently cause producers problems. Both the Screen Actor's Guild and the Writer's Guild have notably gone on strike or threatened to do so in recent years, becoming a major detriment to TV production in one way or another. Reality TV is a producer's slap-in-the-face answer to a troublesome actor or writer who is not contributing to the commerce of a project.
But Reality TV has gone beyond a behind-the-scenes drama and the network politics in response to the nation's current financial state. The multiplying amount of shows (either competition, pseudo-informational or just following around some celebrity or faux-celebrity) have gained their sufficient fanbases enough to guarantee them more than one season (or set) of episodes. Which translates into no end in sight to the array of reality shows anytime soon and it makes the stakes that much higher for fictional programs (as far as ratings go!). But with so many shows, the networks tend to sacrifice their (supposed) art in the name of commerce (meaning quantity wins over quality!). I mean its a regular Baskin Robbins 31 flavors when it comes to the different types of reality shows on TV these days. There are: shows dealing with people's disturbing addictions, shows dealing with weddings, shows dealing with fashion advice or style competitions, shows showcasing a business with a "quirky" staff, shows about spoiled 25 year-olds who have forgotten they are not in college anymore (that's assuming they ever were in college!), shows exploiting teenagers or children, shows with singing and dancing competitions, shows with cooking competitions and shows following people who are famous JUST for having money (or, as I like to call them, faux-celebrities!). Jeez, just writing this list has made me tired, and I don't even think I've covered half of the reality shows out there. (And by the way, it's up to you readers to figure out which particular reality shows I was referring to in the above list!)
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm guilty of it too. I have found myself watching (and being fascinated by) some of these shows and I don't think I'm going to stop any time soon. And I know by writing this measly little column, it isn't going to wake up some network executive and all Reality TV shows will soon be no more (despite what the title of the column says!). I do, however, wish that we as a culture would "wake up" from our Reality TV "coma," and return to the type of shows that got us watching TV in the first place. Already so many fictional programs (both Primetime and Daytime) have fallen victim to the Reality TV entrenchment. Let's not lose too many more and inspire more writers to step forward with their creations, just like the TV writers of my generation have inspired me.