Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ON FUN ~ Keepin' It Real...

Last week, when I explained my reduced posting schedule so that I can enjoy other things in my life, such as watching Survivor, old pal Stacy suggested I share my thoughts on this season's show.

I remember when Survivor first came on the scene. I honestly thought it would be a fad - not just Survivor, but the entire "Reality TV" scene. Boy was I wrong. It has been on the air for almost 11 years now. The original Reality TV show, The Real World - on MTV - began almost 17 years ago. Those original seasons seem fairly quaint now. The producers, participants and viewers hadn't yet figured out that there was a golden "formula." The rich person, the lovable naive one, the hard knocks fighter, the brainiac, the goofball, and of course, the minority/gay person to see how everyone else will react to them. It isn't all that different from high school cliques when you think about it.

Reality TV started as basically a sociology experiment. Make a documentary more interesting by manipulating the environment and activities to ensure that action worth watching happens. Put people under stress, in contact with people outside of their comfort zone, from places they've never been, from classes they've never experienced, with age differences they would usually avoid - and see how they get along, or don't. Convince them to do this by holding a carrot of prize money, scholarships or job opportunities in front of them.

With the success of the early Reality TV shows, more and more were created. Many were flops. Several others found their own footing in the niche and survived in mainstream. But what has also happened, is that Reality TV created a sub-segment of Me TV. Shows filled with people who just want to be on TV. They want to make a scene and be remembered - even if they will be ashamed of their actions when and if they grow up. And there are plenty of people willing to watch these shows. Like not being able to take your eyes off of the car wreck.

I tend to enjoy the Reality TV shows that are competitions or contests - like behind the scenes game shows. Survivor, The Amazing Race. I also like The Apprentice, even though it is generally just a bunch of annoying people - I still like to judge who should or shouldn't be fired. The Biggest Loser makes me worry for the contestants. I'm not sure that these people are given the tools to live a healthy life after they get the weight off. Some of them seem to be teetering to the opposite extreme of eating disorders, obsessed with ounces of weight.

Dancing With The Stars or American Idol are more like talent shows to me - reminders of Star Search. They end up more as popularity contests than judgments of the best talent for the right reasons.

I do have to admit though, I have my guilty pleasures on E! - I watch Real Housewives of Orange County. I have been watching these nut jobs from Season 1 and feel like I know them. I tried watching one of the spin-offs but it felt like I was cheating on the real thing. Even Andy likes the show. I suppose it makes us feel better to know we are better off than the rich and reality famous.

As for Survivor, it is tops for me. It has the mental aspect. Coming up with a plan, thinking multiple steps ahead like a chess game. It also has physical challenges. Strength and determination along with that inner reserve of pure will that we are capable of when we want something badly enough. And finally, it has the social aspect. In order to win, you have to have treated people well enough to give you the grand prize even though you had a hand in voting each of them out before you. Lots of contestants make it to the end on strategy and strength, but they lose because they forget that in the end, a big key to success in our society, and Survivor, is how you make people feel about you and themselves.

This season's cast of contestants hasn't been all that inspiring, or smart. Too much of Me TV wannabes infiltrating a show better off without them. But I do have my favorite for the end. This dude named Judd - aka Fabio. He is strong. He is funny. He is sweet. And he finally seems to be coming up with a strategy. He hasn't pissed off anyone directly. So I'll be rooting for him on Sunday in the finale. Or Monday. The Patriots are playing Sunday night. I will have to DVR my Reality TV for reality.


Lisa said...

Oh I love the Real Housewives! Orange County is my fav still but I do like the New York one. I think those are the two that feel most like these relationships grew organically rather than they were forced together for good t.v.

Kaye said...

I sometimes hate to admit it but I love The Amazing Race. I never thought I would get so hooked on any reality show but this one just grabbed me. Maybe it suits the armchair traveler in me.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I love Survivor. This season has been very eh.

I can't cheer for Fabio in the end though because he was SUCH a whiny brat last night. "I wanted to see my mommy more. Why did you let Holly spend time with her husband over my mommy. I am going to whine for hours now. Wah wah wah."

I look forward to seeing him voted out.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I cut my teeth on Real World many years ago! Then it was Survivor, then I got burned out and a little resentful that I had to plan my week around it! We are back watching again, and actually participate in a pool each season. My kids have come very close to winning a couple of times). I absolutely LOVE Amazing Race and we also watch American Idol. Beyond that, we watch no other TV. (You know I have fantasies of being on AR but can't figure out who I could do it with.)

kayerj said...

Survivor is the only reality show I watch. My youngest daughter and I have a date each wednesday to watch it together. It's a fun thing we do together. I'm for Fabio too. I really liked Jane and I was pretty happy with her "putting out the fire" last night. I think she could have won it if she got to the final three. Too bad for her that the other's knew that too. I think Fabio will try to get Chase out on the next vote.

LJ said...

I do like me some "Survivor", and Hell's Kitchen, Amazing Race. those kinds of reality shows. The "Talent" shows don't appeal to me as much, although I must admit to like watching the beginnings of "Americal Idol". I'm a sucker for good train wrecks.

And although it could be classified as 'talent' shows, I really enjoy "So you think you can Dance", both the American and Canadian versions. These are very talented dancers who are just trying to make a living - and I love that. "Dancing with the Stars" on the other hand. No appeal whatsoever! I could care less if a celebrity could dance or not.

JCB said...

I also love Fabio. I just dont understand why they didnt band together last night and at least cause a tie by voting for Holly? I like most all reality shows - but I cant stomach the Apprentice. Donald Trump gives me the heebie jeebies.

Anonymous said...

We've been watching Survivor since the beginning too, good ole Richsrd. I guess I'm rooting for Fabio and although he really doesn't seem all that smart, he is likable. Used to watch The Apprentice but couldn't stomach Trump for too many seasons.
I'm addicted to Project Runway and Top Chef, both based on talents I wish I possessed!
Over the years I've watcheed lots of 'reality' but those are the three that have stuck. There is way to much ME TV out there making idiots famous. But I guess it's better than a sex tape!

Lin said...

My favorite is Project Runway because you have to be talented too.

I also like Survivor because I would not last past day 2. Folks could tolerate me for one day and then WHAM! I'd be gone. :( There is no way I could do Survivor--the lack of food and sitting in the cold rain would just get to me. I'd be really, really cranky by the end. And Amazing Race--oh, don't put me with Joe (my husband), it would be a cuss fest. And it would drive me crazy that you would be at all these cool places and you couldn't really enjoy it.

Kathleen said...

I'm a big Survivor fan also. A gal I used to work with was on the show years ago but voted off first. She gave us some good inside scoop on Mark Burnett and the way the whole production of the show works. I LOVED that Fabio/Judson won last night! P.S I am a Real Housewives watcher and have cheated on Orange County by watching NY, ATL, etc. I have to say that Orange County is still my favorite, maybe because it was first?