I'll admit it; sometimes I have to give into the urge and watch a little reality television. I'm not proud of it. In fact I would say it's probably my guiltiest pleasure. But every once in a while, particularly if I'm bored (or procrastinating) I just really want to find out what's going on with those crazy Kardashians, and sometimes I just need to watch Snooki get wasted and eat 15 pickles while shouting obscenities at The Situation and then proceeding to sleep with him on the Jersey Shore.
I understand that sometimes you have to watch a little bad TV. What I don't understand is why reality television seems to be the most popular genre right now, and in particular why reality competition shows are the highest rated shows each week. How can so many Americans watch these shows habitually? Do they not know that there are better things out there to watch?
The variety of reality competition shows is astounding. There are talent competition shows (America Idol, America's Got Talent), physical competition shows (Survivor, The Amazing Race), cooking competition shows (Hell's Kitchen, MasterChef), and even romantic competition shows (The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Love in The Wild). Two weeks ago, America's Got Talent was the highest rated show on NBC with 11.5 million viewers. And as if the category wasn't saturated enough, The CW is coming out with yet another talent competition show this summer called The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep or TN:FIAYD. Can you say that acronym five times fast?
If you look at what these shows are up against each night, maybe the argument is that there's simply nothing better on TV, yet I am still astounded at the sheer magnitude of viewers. Believe me I'm not judging a book by its cover. I've given many of these shows a chance, but the persistent issue I have is that they are all so similar. In the case of musical competition shows, besides the fact that they all have different celebrity judges, I see very little difference between American Idol, X Factor, The Voice, and America's Got Talent. Whenever I come across them on TV, I am prompted to immediately change the channel. I feel overcome with an annoyance comparable to hearing the same song on repeat all day. It's the same process, the same type of people, and the same routine.
It seems to me that shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men have almost become part of a niche genre. I realize that these shows aren't able to obtain as many viewers because they are on cable, but I still feel like they are under appreciated, and often under represented in the media. I love television because of shows like GOT and Mad Men, which have vastly creative narratives, beautiful art direction and costuming, and exceptionally talented acting. How could anyone even compare this to watching strangers vie for a bachelor's "love" or celebrities commenting on the musical ability of wannabe pop stars?
Even if we're not comparing these two types of shows, I still can't relate to the appeal of the competition format. As I stated right off the bat, I do enjoy watching the occasional reality TV episode, but I simply cannot get behind the repetition and monotony of reality competition shows. Sorry American Idol, et al. I think you're boring.
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