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The Unreality of Reality Television

19 Dec

December 19, 2012

There is nothing real about reality television. That is why shows like Keeping Up with The Kardashians are not called documentaries.

There is nothing real about reality television.

Dave Hester of Storage Wars is suing the show for seeding valuable items in the “locked and unopened” storage lockers they bid on. (http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/12/11/torage-wars-star-dave-hester-says-show-is-fake-suing-report-says/)

TLC’s new show, Amish Mafia, is actually a “recreation” using actors, although the network claims the stories are real. (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/amish-mafia-taking-care-business-amish-country-135820402–abc-news-tv.html)

TruTV, ironically, airs all kinds of “reality television,” but they are so far from reality that they had to make up yet another term. Now Operation Repo is known as “Actuality.” And yes, Operation Repo is scripted. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Repo)

Breaking Amish featured one cast member who was not Amish, and another who was not what she claimed at all. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/breaking-amish-rebecca-divorced-video_n_1999071.html)

I was watching an episode of Storage Wars Texas, which is a Storage Wars spinoff, when I saw the following scene. A cast member bid on and won a locker. He went inside to see what he bought but there was a large screen in the middle blocking the rest of the locker. He went up to it and peered through one of the slats and a huge grin crossed his face and he yelped for joy. There was something good in there, of course. So what was the problem? It was filmed from the reverse angle. In other words, we saw him open the slats and grin from the other side of the screen, from a camera angle from the back of the locker. There was already a camera in the back of the locker set up to get that shot! And “set up” is the right term. Obviously the producers and directors and camera men and the bidder too knew what was in the locker and worked to create the best shot they could. So where is the reality?

I’ve written a lot about so-called reality television, predominately American Chopper, but I also recapped a full season (the only season) of Scrappers. I live in the exact area where that show was filmed and took a lot of nonsense from people writing in to defend the “reality” of the show. (https://bmj2k.com/2010/09/23/scrappers-mail-letters-from-people-who-love-scrappers-and-hate-me/) Trust me, I know what was fake on that show.

Then there is Hardcore Pawn, a show I wrote about once and only once yet is one of my most popular blogs. (https://bmj2k.com/2011/07/18/my-review-of-hardcore-pawn/) One of the most popular searches that lead people to it is “why do they always wear the same clothes?” The answer is because the show is heavily edited. What looks like happens in one day really often takes place over weeks and weeks. They need to wear the same clothes during filming so you don’t notice the editing. Do they get a lot of weird people? Yes they do. But their producers search out many more to come in.

Long Island Medium is a classic fake, with a scam whose history goes back centuries yet people still fall for it. Do just a little research, you can do what she does with a fair bit of success yourself. I’ve done it, you can be a medium too.  (https://bmj2k.com/2011/10/24/my-review-of-long-island-medium-3/)

Watch any Real Housewives– they are all acting for the camera. Situations are clearly and obviously set up. Most reality shows look fake because they are fake. Period.

Somehow even The Apprentice, a show I wrote about many, many times and I am sure I will write about many more, is called reality television. How? (https://bmj2k.com/2012/10/17/the-celebrity-apprentice-all-stars/)

Deadliest Catch is the show I consider closest to reality. The job is so dangerous anyone would be insane to let the producers direct the action, and the captains have too much money on the line to allow it. But a show like that is also heavily edited, and much of the personal drama amped up and exaggerated.

So I for one am glad that American Chopper is over. Am I biting the hand that feeds me? No, I never hid my disdain for that show. But if anyone writes to this blog again defending anyone on reality television again, I want you to include your latest medical reports because you must be nuts.

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12 Responses to “The Unreality of Reality Television”

  1. zathra December 19, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I watch very few ” reality ” shows. I watch Ghost Hunters, ” DESTINATION TRUTH “, ” Fact or Faked “, ” Haunted Collector “, etc., purely when I want mindless entertainment & cotton candy for the ” little gray cells “.

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    • bmj2k December 19, 2012 at 9:00 am #

      My problem with Ghost Hunters is that while those guys may be sincere, they know just barely enough to know just a bit too little about what they are talking about. Sometimes I do think they’ve stumbled across something yet other times I find them laughably naive.

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      • zathra December 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

        They had one member – a tech guy – who thought that EVERYTHING was ghosts. Kind of like the people who see satellites, meteors, etc., & think they’re extra – terrestrial space – craft.

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  2. Jim December 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Don’t forget “Moonshiners.” When I caught a part of what turned out to be season 2, and it wasn’t showing the “cast” of season 1 in prison, I figured there wasn’t any real white lightning being cooked up. Turns out it’s another re-enactment type show.

    I saw a commercial for Storage Wars New York last night (unless it was a nightmare). It’s becoming the Law & Order of auction shows!

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    • bmj2k December 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      I had the same thought about Moonshiners. If it is real then the network is aiding and abetting breaking the law and someone should be in jail. I saw the Storage Wars New York commercial too and I guess being a New Yorker I am perversely interested in what they find. If they find Judge Crater I am calling shenanigans.

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      • zathra December 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

        Remember ” Intervention ” on A&E ? & ” Family Plots ” ? ” Family Plots ” was fairly interesting. It got cancelled when it was found that the owner of the mortuary ( Rick Sadler ) was unlicensed.It was a reality show that I actually liked.

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        • bmj2k December 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

          Intervention still on? I always wondered why anyone would air their family’s dirty laundry like that. Family Plots I never watched, just not interested enough.

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          • zathra December 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

            I don’t know about Intervention. I thought Family Plots was weirdly good. One episode had an employee delivering cremains to a ship, & he was prone to sea – sickness. 😉

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  3. T E Stazyk December 20, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    The only reality show that’s real is Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. How’s that for scary?

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  4. Michael Skrzenski December 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I am a huge fan of “Survivor” which prides itself on being first hit reality game show…far from reality but I enjoy it nonetheless…The whole “reality game shows” is another category that is total BS.

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    • bmj2k December 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      when that first started I was interested- stick a bunch of people on a nisland and see what happens. But that wasn’t it. Silly competitions, contrived immunity, cameras amping up the friction- what’s real about any of that? The show may not be rigged and the outcomes may be real but I don’t call that reality.

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  5. Michael Skrzenski December 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    ..And all these “Living-the-American-Dream”, “reality” shows like “Gold Rush”, “Bering Sea Gold” are now so far from reality it is beyond insulting.

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