TV Guide: The magic of reality TV

2013-01-27 10:00

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Ever since my dad came home with a small white box with silver antlers and lots of fancy buttons and moving pictures from a world I had never even imagined, I have been addicted to the magic of television.

I use the word ‘magic’ loosely. The range of content available on the small

screen varies from the most brilliant to the utterly futile.

There are just too many TV shows that have diminished my faith in the judgement of commissioning editors.

Do not get me wrong. Choice is wonderful. The strides that TV has made since those early days when TV was a novelty only enjoyed at hours regulated by the state means everyone can be entertained just the way they prefer.

Nothing defines this “liberation” of TV like the advent of reality TV.

Pioneering shows such as Survivor, Pop Idol and Amazing Race still have the same appeal today as they did when they first launched.

Their staying power lies in the portrayal of real people in real-life situations.

This model has been replicated, to my great delight, into quality shows such as MasterChef, which I am hopelessly addicted to.

I am not sure though that reality TV should have crossed the divide into reality “soap opera” shows though.

Thanks to the democratisation of TV, we now live with the uncomfortable knowledge that there’s a sizeable audience out there genuinely interested in Toddlers & Tiaras, a series so successful that it spawned its first child reality beauty queen in Honey Boo Boo.

Then there are the Kardashians – loud Armenian females who speak like Fran Drescher on helium, they have morphed into the biggest reality soap opera on screen.

Just by virtue of going about their daily lives, it would seem, is all the talent they are blessed with.

I would be willing to bet a few episodes of my beloved Big Bang Theory that there is a negative correlation between the hours spent watching the Kardashians and the rate at which brain cells die off. But I love it!

The Kardashians are like a family on Khumbul’ekhaya. The only difference being that the Kardashians are more tragic because they seem to genuinely believe that airing their dirty laundry on TV is glamorous rather than dysfunctional. But I shamefully admit to watching with glee.

But all is not lost. There are still a few highlights on my TV viewing calendar that do not feed my disturbing need to watch personal disasters unfold.

The motion picture and television awards season is but one.

Watching the beautiful and actually talented exchange compliments and pat each other on the back as they celebrate in the most glamorous fashion their achievements in continuing to inspire and entertain millions, reminds me of the real reason I got addicted to my dad’s small box.

And just as I did in the early 80s, I continue to be mesmerised by it all.

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