The NE region of the country has been swept up in one humdinger of a heat wave the past couple of days. Temps reached record-breaking status, opting to stubbornly hover in the mid-nineties way into the evening hours like an aging mistress that has long wore out her welcome. As front runner candidate for the Temps Are Too Damn High party, I have used every waking hour in my days to complain about the heat to anyone who will listen. As if my friends, neighbors and colleagues have been living in a plastic bubble this whole time, playing Scrabble with George Costanza (the correct answer is "Moops") while cool central air pumps throughout it and not suffering right along with me. But I've never used logic as an excuse not too rant. And rant I did! To anyone that would listen, which (because of the dangerously humid air quality that's been going on outside for 23 of 24 hours in the day) meant I had to take my complaints to Facebook and le Twitter like everyone else in the city. And when that would no longer satisfy me, I decided to just take it out on my television and yell at anybody on the screen that appeared not to be drowning in a pool of their own sweat. Trapped inside my own apartment, I settled on some brainless reality programming, namely an E! special on the 40 most epic reality t.v. moments. The program covered everything from the time the Real (Ho)usewives of New Jersey fought to end Apartheid in South Africa to the now classic episode of Cash Cab where Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the cab, opting instead to call "shotgun" on host Ben Bailey. What's that you say? None of that really happened? Well it certainly needed to because as the years tick by, reality programming has pooped out some really crappy ( <---see what I just did there) concepts. These include a show about swamp people, a guy that horse-whispers naughty kitty cats (not as exciting as it sounds) and like thirteen different shows about ugly and/or fat people that repo cars for a living.
|Hey, we can't all be supermodels.|
I know what you are going to say: Reality T.V. is for the brain dead lemmings of the world Why don't you get a real hobby and stop feeding into the machine? (I added the wimpy whiny voice you make on my own. Did I get it right? I'm sure I did.) Everybody has their vice and for me it's reality television. I am a little ashamed to admit though that until recently, I thought these shows were 100% authentic. Pardon me for being naive but I appear to be the only one out there who still thought that reality television was somewhat...well... real. Sure, I've long known that the sun-kissed cast of Laguna Beach were reading from scripts and that some of the contestants that frequent dating shows often make the rounds auditioning for everything from the ABC's the Bachelor to MTV's the Real World all in an attempt to get their "brand" out there. But producers wouldn't fake my shows, right? I didn't realize just how finagled the story lines of some of my favorite guilty pleasure programming can be. I recently started catching up on The Real Housewives of New York Season 4 (I know, I know) and while Bethenny Frankel was the only reason I chose to watch the show in the past, I decided to give the ladies from the city that never sleeps another whirl. Big mistake.
|See if you can spot which one's the "bitch" in this photo, boys and girls.|
Here's a hint: it's all of them.
No sooner had I turned the Bravo program on was I being bludgeoned over the head with catty back and forth that reminded me of how I used to treat people before I grew up and graduated from middle school. Arguments about absolutely nothing had brought the cast to a new low. Jill is still the resident Mean Girl that doesn't get why everybody hates her. Luann (who I refuse to refer to as the [dis]Countess) is insufferably condescending while at the same time classless and Kelly...? Well, lets just say if crazy ever had a baby with insane it would look just like the leggy mother. She's that bonkers. Even the usually fun loving blonds, Sonja and Ramona were giving me a migraine. I won't even get into the whereabouts of Alex and her o so slimy husband, Simon. They creep me out too much to even discuss. I'll just say, not since the Adam's Family has a couple infected me with such a strong case of the willies. I decided to turn the ladies (and Simon) off and read a good ol fashioned book instead. Later that evening, I went online to read the program recap over at Entertainment Weekly and the subsequent reader comments of which there were several. Including:
SheG Fri 7/1/11 01:54 PM
This season of Bravo's RHONY is the worst ever. I agree w/the poster who said the clean house/hording show was better because there was some real emotion. I kept clicking away from the show to see what else was on --a true sign of the beginning of the end. Jill's an insecure teenager, Luann is a very mean snob, Kelly belongs in a padded cell, Ramona is Ramona, Sonya is desperate to find some type of financial employment, and Alex/Simon are boring. Bravo needs to reboot this show w/something completely different. We, the audience, know so much of it is staged, but give us some credit, these storylines are BORING and RIDICULOUS. It's like they are trying to make it Sex in the City (Morocco really?? and yeah, Luann we believe you arranged and paid for the trip -- right.) I'm so glad HBO has Game and Thrones and True Blood -- I am going to wean myself from these ridiculous scripted reality shows. The fantasy shows w/real actors are so much better.
I sat there shocked. It had seriously never dawned on me that the producers of the RH franchise would actually stoop so low as to write and plot out the content of the season. I mean sure, I figured they arrange certain cast members to be at the same events at the same times and they steer the dialogue by asking certain inflammatory questions in their one on ones but to actually create an entire faux reality for women who (let's be honest) don't really seem like they need help in the how to be fake department?! For shame Andy Cohen! For freakin' shame! As I sat there staring at my computer, having my Aha moment it dawned on me, other reality shows could be doing this too. The commenter mentioned shows like Clean House and Hoarders. Shows that showcase real people with real problems. Or are they? I thought, maybe none of this is real. Maybe the whole concept of reality programming is not so real after all.
|I always knew Latoya was just a figment of my imagination!|
Maybe it was the heat coupled with the fact that I just don't like being lied to but I started to get really pissed off. As I flipped through the channels, I stopped on a repeat of E!'s The Soup. At a certain point I actually screamed out to my television; "Joel McHale, you're a freakin' liar. These people are not real! None of them! There's no way that lady hoards her own leg-hair shavings! Nobody does that!". I passed out after that in a fit of vodka and V8 Fusion-flavored rage. It was a good thing too because not only did I need the nap, when I awoke, I was able to formulate the following theories on some of today's most popular reality shows.
TMZ is either the worst show on t.v. or just a mildly funny gossip show about semi-celebrities. I'm not sure which, I haven't come to a conclusion yet. This is the kind of show that you get roped into watching when you are taking a nap on the couch, waiting for a Family Guy rerun to come on. You never intend to watch the entire episode but then you start thinking about how much easier it would be to just sit there and watch it versus grabbing the remote all the way on the other side of the couch. The show is somewhat funny on the level that these "reporters" are on the beat to get the scoop on whether Bill Nye the Science Guy would rather be a ninja or a chef. Really stupid, ridiculous stuff like that. And though it doesn't sit well with me that TMZ was the American "news" source to break the news of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Amy Whinehouse, the reporters in the "newsroom" don't really seem like bad people. I would hang out with some of them, even. Well, if they weren't social parasites and all. Could it be possible that they aren't real people at all? Is the surfer blond guy a Shakespearean thespian deep in character? Does Hollyweird really think Americans are so dumb that they could get us to watch actors talk about other actors? I sat there dumbfounded with my theory that the "staff" at TMZ (with the exception of Harvey I'm a Lawyer Levin) are really hired actors for a show where they faux-react to not so interesting stories about whether or not Audrina Patridge saw the last Harry Potter movie or what Gary Busey likes to eat for lunch (Pepperoni pizza lunchable with the fun-size Butterfinger.) To watch it at this angle the show seems pretty pointless... and not even that funny. If these are real people, I wonder how that pretentious black guy with the locs feels about stalking celebrities for a living.
|Ninja is the obvious choice.|
Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is either a stark look at addiction or the worst improv troupe in the country. I really don't want to believe that the "celebrity addicts" on this popular VH1 show are just acting addicted but it wouldn't be the craziest thing Hollywood's ever done to us. I wouldn't put it past network execs to pull the Brooks Brothers wool over our eyes and allow these stars to reignite their careers by acting out their (real or exaggerated) addictions on the small screen for oohs and aahs. I mean real celebrity addicts live in around the clock denial about their lifestyle and would never agree to do a show like that, right? No, I don't want that to be the truth. On the other side of the same coin, I hope that if these addictions are as they have been depicted that the actors on the show can get help. Especially with the recent deaths of Winehouse and Ryan Dunn in the news. The thing is, I've seen addiction in real life and something about these folks just isn't gelling.
|And since when did shooting your older boyfriend's wife in the head make you a celebrity?|
Bummed as I was at the revelation that some of my favorite shows may not be anything close to real at all, I can't say that I blame the networks. They are only giving us more of what we clamor for; decadence, back-stabbing, pettiness and fabulous shoes. How this is any different than an episode of Dynasty I don't know. O well. For now I will continue to watch the trashy reality shows like Basketball Wives and the RH franchise and take comfort in the fact that I can now act like a glib douchebag when my friends make statements about the actions of the characters. You didn't know this was all fake? Darling, where have you been?
So do you have an opinion? Do you even care if these shows are real or not? Did they have any credibility at all to begin with for it to be lost? Sound off.
--- Vanity in Peril