Getting Real With Reality TV…

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The world is obsessed with Reality Television. I for one never thought it would last…I could not have been more wrong. Everything is trending towards total overexposure. Gossip, celebrity magazines, Twitter, Facebook…it’s all about me, 24/7.

If I had taken a deep breath and thought about Reality TV, I would have realized that it is just like the old fashioned soap opera’s which have been going strong for 83 years. Millions still tune in to, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful.

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Watergate

Digress with me for a moment…when I started at ABC, I wrote all the advertising and promotion for the ABC Sports shows and soaps. Watergate reared its’ ugly head. The Watergate hearings were televised, pre-empting regularly scheduled programming. Each network covered the daily hearings.

The backlash was so intense and vocal that the Big 3, ABC, CBS and NBC, had to go institute a rotation system. I literally received thousand’s of letters and phone calls from irate viewers. They were jonesing for Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) and Nick Davis (Laurence Keith) on, All My Children and desperate to see what Tommy Lee Jones was up to on, One Life To Live. The viewers were completely disinterested in the daily Watergate activities which always struck me as odd because Watergate was. in actuality, a soap opera and it was all happening in real time.

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People love gossip, train wrecks, plastic surgery, the lifestyles of the rich and famous, poor and stupid…everything that Reality TV encompasses. We recently traveled to South Africa. We were met by a local driver at the airport in Capetown. He inquired as to what we did in America. When he heard that my daughter is an agent, working in Alternative TV, he was overwhelmed and blurted out, “Do you know the Kardashians?!”

Seriously, we are in Africa, people are living in abject poverty, lacking basic electricity, Nelson Mandela was in a coma, Robert Mugabe,whose tyrannical reign continues after 3 decades, had just been re-elected in Zimbabwe and our driver was over the top excited about meeting people who knew the Kardashians…it was an ugly reality.

To be honest, I know many, many people, both male and female, who are addicted to Bravo’s Housewives series. The Housewives have individually sought representation at the big agencies as they drink the Kool-Aid and believe that they are huge stars and idolized in the real world.

They used to say reality is stranger than fiction…these days I cannot even tell the difference. The shows are softly scripted and the lines between reality and fiction are blurring.

Observation…the bullying on these reality shows really bugs me. We are all aware that bullying is a hot button issue. So many parents do not place restrictions on what their children watch on TV. What is the message being conveyed here? Basically, all the Housewives shows consist of brow beating, taking sides and consistently and voraciously picking on one another. Big Brother, Survivor, Million Dollar Listing LA and NYC, the list goes on. This is learned behavior.

Maybe it is time for change…read a book, workout, take a walk, watch 60 Minutes…that’s enough reality for me and these days, a NY Giants football game is as real and ugly as I can handle.

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