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It's all in your head

I was going to try to write a more philosophical post, but frankly, I'm feeling kinda lowbrow.

Reality shows. For someone who doesn't watch a whole hell of a lot of TV, I kinda like 'em. Mostly cooking shows, but also the Biggest Loser. (That's probably ironic.)

What I find intriguing is that a whole buttload of tape is shot, and then producers afterward try to construct narrative arcs out of the footage. But RL has no narrative arcs, so it's really interesting to deconstruct how they're spinning the story. Also, I think reality shows have value for writers in that they show how real people speak in an unscripted manner, and also they show more complex character-types than we see in traditional TV or movies because they are real people. They're complicated. And yes, through editing, someone's usually cast as a villain and a hero. But really, personalities can be a lot more nuanced on reality shows than they are in typical TV.

To vary from my diet of Hell's Kitchen and Biggest Loser, I ordered The Amazing Race season 1 from my local library. Now, caveat, I've only seen one episode (and PLEASE don't spoil it for me because I'm sure everyone else knows how it turns out) but if you haven't seen it, so far it's a riot. There are 12 couples trying to navigate to various destinations without computers or cell phones. One couple has a very intense, testosterone-driven alpha-male (obnoxiously so)...and they keep coming in second to the TWO MIDDLE-AGED GAY GUYS IN MATCHING OUTFITS.


I think there's a bigger lesson to be learned here about mental attitude. One team has a guy screaming and making himself crazy, and the other team just says, "Okay, let's use our heads...tra la la...here we are, yay! You're aweosme...no, you're awesome!" I think that's kind of like life. Sometimes we get worked up when it doesn't further our goals to do so, and we could quite possibly end up in the very same spot without bursting a blood vessel.

That is all.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 30th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
I like cooking reality shows and Biggest Loser, too. Haven't seen Hell's Kitchen. Do you get Master Chef?

Some parts of these shows drive me nuts. The parts where they have the contestants talking to the camera, I sometimes wonder if they're told what to say. But, yes, for the most part, it does give real dialogue. How people really behave toward each other. Big Brother was very good for that.
Dec. 30th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
Hm...I don't think I usually mind the talking to the camera parts. I think the narrator voiceover usually makes me feel more manipulated, and yet it's fun to catch them doing that.

I think I could find Master Chef but I haven't checked it out quite yet. My physical TV only gets PBS reliably, which I suppose is a douchebag intellectual's fantasy! Hahaha!

I will check out Big Brother.
Dec. 30th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
I don't know what PBS is. It sounds worrying/scary.

Most people will tell you Big Brother is a waste of space, yet it gets a surprising amount of viewers. We had nine seasons of it, I think. The the network decided not to do it again. Same with Australian Idol.

I liked those shows, though Idol was becoming tragic. At the beginning of the series they'd say, 'We're looking for a great rock voice.' and always end up with a great R&B voice. And look what American Idol found. After Adam Lambert, they should just cancel the show. They're never going to do as well as that again.

So You Think You Can Dance is great. Your one more so than ours.
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
PBS is Public Broadcasting System. A TV that gets only that is an intellectual's wet dream ;-)
Dec. 30th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
"Okay, let's use our heads...tra la la...here we are, yay! You're aweosme...no, you're awesome!" Ha ha ha! This is an excellent life philosophy, actually.

I have weaned my diet of reality shows down considerably over the years, but I think you're right - if you have a show where an editing team doesn't try to manipulate to the extreme, you see many more shades of gray in people.
Dec. 30th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Yes--in a way it feels like a good exercise in narrative to try to determine what the editing is trying to manipulate you to believe, as well.
Dec. 30th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
tra-lala, YOU are awesome!

Dec. 31st, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Ha ha, thank you!!!
Dec. 30th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
As a general rule I hate reality shows. Competition ones anyway, not ones like Hoarders which makes me feel better about my own existence.

However my daughter started watching Top Chef so by default I watched it and kind of got into it. Then there was the Next Iron Chef, which I watched and I do watch Chopped. As you can see, we watch a lot of Food Network in my house. This year however, season 17 or something my daughter wanted to watch The Amazing Race because she follows this Vlogger on YouTube (Kevin) and he and his Dad were in the competition so she wanted to watch Kevin and Michael. His Dad is hilarious. Anyway, they only made it to about round 5 but once I got into it, I did enjoy it. However those guys who start screaming at their female partners and treating them like dirt because they can't carry 300 lbs of bricks make me so furious. I'd tell him to shove a brick up his ... and I'd catch the first flight home. LOL

Sometimes it's so eye-rolling to see how they edited it and you know it was probably nothing at all like that. It's all part of the game to make it more dramatic. I don't care for that part of the shows. I enjoyed Top Chef Masters because these guys were already famous in their own right so there wasn't that edge of desperation and "I must win at all costs" attitude. They were more collaborative and if they screwed up they screwed up. I preferred to focus on the food and not the interpersonal drama.

Lordy, I wrote a thesis. For someone who hates reality shows, not bad. LOL
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Indeed, you seem to have a definite opinion about reality shows!

I think I like competition shows that take either talent or very hard work. There's something I like vicariously about people being successful.
Dec. 30th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
I love your summary of the first episode of The Amazing Race. :D

I probably had my tv on five times this year, to watch dvds with friends... It just does not occur to me to turn it on.
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
I think I might watch TV more if I still had satellite but it just didn't seem like it was worth the money to watch TV a couple times a week.

Then again I was selected as a Neilson rating household once and I didn't watch TV even once during the timeframe. Writing is kind of like my TV.

I love the gay couple on Amazing Race. No big surprise there, I guess.
Dec. 31st, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
I love The Amazing Race! Rule number one: never, ever travel with a friend/loved one for long distances in less than ideal situations.
I loved Kevin & Drew
And there is a reason TAR won the emmy all those years (except last year, Top Chef beat them) it's a good show and I love having the couples do insane tasks. A few seasons ago they went to Hamburg and sadly I only recognized St.Pauli - the red light district.
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
I wish the tasks were less structured, somehow. I guess I'll keep watching and see how it goes. As it stands, they don't seem to take much ingenuity. It's like, should we take a cab or a train?
Dec. 31st, 2010 08:09 am (UTC)
Keep watching, it's worth it. It was the first season and it has evolved over the years.
Dec. 31st, 2010 09:34 am (UTC)
I love the amazing race. They've been to sweden twice, and one of their tasks were to put IKEA furniture together! :) Together with Project Runway, it's my favorite show.
Dec. 31st, 2010 09:45 am (UTC)
I like Project Runway too, although I've only seen one season. I love that creativity and craftsmanship and personality and luck all combine to create the show. There's a haircutting show I watched a bit, too. That's kind of harrowing because you feel bad for someone who gets a haircut they hate!
Jan. 1st, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
Oh, this is my favourite blog post of the day. I don't watch reality shows myself (actually I don't watch any scheduled TV) but 'tra la la...yay! You're awesome!' is mental attitude gold. I love it.
Jan. 1st, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Attitude is so important! I used to work with this really cheerful teenager, and I remember once saying, "Oh GOD you went to the mall on CHRISTMAS EVE? It must have been SHEER HELL."

And he shrugged and said, "Yeah, it was crowded." Smiling, no less.

I kinda decided my self-talk and attitude could stand some scrutiny at that point.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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