This week, the seventh season of American Idol starts on FOX — only I’m not watching it at all. Nor am I likely to, even right up to the season finale (which I hope will also be the series finale). But then, I’m not a fan of American Idol or any other so-called (and I use that word strongly) "reality TV" shows that have already tarnished the industry’s reputation.
Shows like Survivor and The Hills, however popular they might be (unfortunately), not only present their warped image of what they claim to be the real world, but also set a bad example for everybody who watches that kind of crap, especially the younger audiences — in other words, a video nightmare disguised as a pervert’s vision of Disneyland. If I want first-class escapism (or even thought-provoking drama), I’ll watch reruns of classic TV shows like M*A*S*H, The Simpsons, and The Wild Wild West. If I want to be annoyed, I can get it in the form of somewhat mild criticism from my mother and older brothers.
For almost twenty years, I’ve been struggling to get into the entertainment industry without much success — and I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s felt the bitter sting of rejection. Personally, I pin the blame in part on the major TV networks paying more attention to those "reality TV" shows and less to the kind of programming that should be important — and the kind that does matter: the TV shows that reek of high-quality, like sitcoms, dramas, documentaries, and news programs. The kind that are not only entertaining, but also thought-provoking — the kind that have fired the imaginations of audiences for sixty-plus years, and the kind that they still talk about today. Honestly, who’s going to remember crap like The Bachelor or The Amazing Race ten to twenty years from now? Hell, I’m sure that everybody will forget even Richard Hatch and William Hung by then — and they’ll deserve to be forgotten, if only because they made jackasses out of themselves, not only on TV, but in real life as well.
There’s an upside to the "reality TV" craze that’s already dominating the airwaves — namely, the fact that like all other crazes, it won’t last forever. Hopefully, as the first decade of the 21st Century comes to an end, so will every "reality TV" show that’s already made a mockery out of the industry — and has already corrupted a generation of viewers who should be smart enough to realize that they present a false reality of the world that’s nothing like the reality that all of us have to face every day.
Who knows — maybe it’ll be up to guys like me to end the nightmare of "reality TV" and help bring forth a new era of quality programming. Hey, it could happen.
January 14, 2009