The “Reality” Of Reality TV.

We’ve all seen them. Reality TV shows. They’re out there. They’ve become immensely popular. Now I’m not much of a TV watcher. I have too much life to live. But once in a while when I’m bored I will sit and push buttons on the remote just to see what happens. There are a lot of reality TV shows. There was one about a couple with 19 children. Think about that. 19 children. There was one about a couple with 8 children but that got boring when the 19 children came along. There is one about a Louisiana family that makes duck calls. There are shows about little people and shows about housewives. There is a show about Mormons and a show about the Amish. Any situation you can think of, someone can make a reality show about it.

I’ve always like wilderness. We take a vacation every year in the north woods of our state. We fish and kayak and hike trails and relax. So one day I’m checking out the TV and I find a couple reality shows that take place in Alaska. One is about a group of six guys who are gold mining. The other is about the Alaska railroad and the people who live “off grid” and depend on the railroad. I watched a few episodes of each and I’ll give you an idea of what I found.

One couple on the railroad show live in the wilderness of Alaska and hunt and trap for their food. They use the railroad when they have to go to town. It seems even in the wilderness you still have to go to town once in a while. So the man in this show has a hook instead of a left hand. It seems he shot his hand off with a shotgun. I don’t know how. He needs an operation to get all the shotgun pellets out which cause him a lot of pain. They built a cabin on their property that they don’t use and the wife wants to sell it and use the money for her husbands surgery. He doesn’t want to sell because he doesn’t want neighbors. But he really needs the operation so he changes his mind. This is the dilemma of the show I saw.

Now my problem is that I think too much. I’m thinking that they must be getting paid pretty good money to be on this show. I don’t think they would allow a camera crew, with all that entails, to film their lives everyday (especially when you don’t want neighbors) without getting some cash for it. It turns out I’m right. I did a little digging and found out that most reality TV stars get anywhere from $10.000 to $80.000 dollars an episode, depending on the popularity of the show and the network that produces it. So now I’m thinking, why doesn’t he just use some of that money to get his operation? Ah, but there’s the rub. They have to pretend that they’re not on a TV show in order for it to be “reality.” Which immediately makes it “not” reality.

Same thing with the gold mining show. These guys moved to Alaska to mine gold. They mortgaged their homes and cars and dumped everything they have into this project. On the show, one guy says that if this doesn’t work out they will lose everything. But, wait a minute. What about the thousands of dollars they get from the TV series? What about that money? This show has been on for several seasons now so these guys have got to be stacking up some impressive cash. But again, they have to pretend that everything is on the line in order to create drama for the show. So it’s not reality. It’s like watching a movie. You know it’s fake. But with a movie there is action, and suspense. There is blood and shooting and kidnapping and bombs. Or there is comedy and funny situations. Watching these reality shows and knowing it’s not reality is boring. A guy gets mad and throws a hammer. A piece of machinery breaks down and they all worry about paying for the new part. They dig for days and weeks and come up with a little gold dust. It’s not worth the time invested in watching the show knowing it’s not real.

So I think they have to spice it up a little bit, you know, to make it an interesting movie to watch. I think two of the miners should fall in love with each other. Really cause some tension between the rest of them. Or one of them turns out to be a bank robber hiding out from the police. Cops and shooting and stuff. Or maybe the guy with the hook could go all crazy and kill the neighbors he hates and then goes on the run. I’m mean they’re not really reality shows anyway, right? So why not make them interesting to watch?

I found out something else while digging into reality shows. Some of them, like the duck call makers show are actually scripted. Each episode is actually written and they follow the script. So they could write a script about the owner of the company embezzling all the money and running off to Tahiti leaving the rest of the family destitute. Why not? Their audience would probably grow like mad.

See what happens when you don’t have enough to do? You start watching TV and thinking about what you watch. It could make you crazy. Hey, maybe they could make a reality series about me going crazy from watching reality TV. I better find something else to do.

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