Reality Show

If you have watched enough reality shows — and honestly, haven’t we all? — you find that the common denominator for all of them is creating conflict where there is none. Or making a mountain out of a mole hill. Whether it’s over a set up game on an island in the South Pacific or a dancing show with C-listers, magnifying drama is the genre’s stock and trade.

Having hosted reality shows, I know first hand that the drama they amplify is actually not as interesting as the actual human dramas taking place.  But that doesn’t stop them. Since I’m not named Mark Burnett or Freemantle or Magical Elves, what do I know?

I wanted to apply the formula to my life and see how it works.

American Idol

Despite our best plans to hold Western civilization together realty shows, have become a part of our lives. Well, most of us. From the higher brow like Amazing Race, to those put-a-bunch-of-white-trash-girls-in-a-room variety, at some point we watch them. The Bachelor? No, never liked it. Blech. Talk about setting woman back.

But American Idol? Well, you see where I am going with this. And what do you think of Ellen so far? I think she’s fine.

Momversation: Are You Sick of Jon and Kate?

This might seem funny since we are hearing more about Michael Jackson than the Gosselins, or the failure of the G-8 to agree on how to fight global warming, or the US journalists held in North Korea.  But as a rabid consumer of pop culture, I can’t ever act too high and mighty. The crowd weighs in on whether we have had a bit too much of the prolific people from Pennsylvania.

They may have been eclipsed for now, but did you think they were a bit oversaturated?

Top Chef Masters: My Own Watching Party

Okay, I couldn’t watch it live. Even though I knew the outcome, it made me more nervous than I realized. We went over to Mark’s restaurant and ate, and I had a big glass of white wine (I like them dry and minerally). After the bunnies were in bed, and Mark came home from work, I watched it.

It’s funny since I have hosted reality shows, and I know how much of it is set up and made in the editing room, yet I was still drawn in to see my husband compete.

For those that didn’t see it, I think Mark did very well. He looked handsome, and he was genial and articulate. Which is why I think they used a lot of his sound bites. I also thought the New Orleans chef Jeff Besh came off as a very likable guy. I found the other two chefs were mumblers and a tad harder to understand, but nice enough.

Mark had been saying for months (It was shot a while ago) “I could have done better in the Quick Fire.”  Ironic that his flaw was forgetting the olive oil when I have learned so much about cooking with olive oil.

Stefano stava cucinando
Creative Commons License photo credit: BobbyProm

In the challenge, he had to tie one hand behind his back (they all did). I loved that they had him talking about his dad who was born with only one hand. And that they showed the sweet photo of he and his dad when Mark was little. His dad was pretty solid. He was a teacher. Taught special ed and drivers ed and painted houses in the summer to support his family… with one arm!

The shows goes a fast clip, but Mark was AWOL from home for two and half days. He said there was a lot of sitting around. And the judges’ deliberation that takes about 2 minute in the show? That took 3 hours. He and the other chefs did sit around and drink and wait… and wait.

While we watched, I would pause and ask him things like, “Was your fish overcooked?”  He said probably: “They say you are going to go, and then you have to wait.”  Ah the magic of “reality” television.

When it came down to just he and one other after the other two chefs were ordered to get their knifes and get lost, I said, “Do you feel bad when people are eliminated?”

He said with a smile, “No.”

The Reality Of White Trash

I was getting mic’d at work (the process of having a sound person attach a microphone to me), when I spied “Hogan Knows Best,” the reality show was playing on one of the TV’s in the studio. With over processed hair Brooke Hogan was heavily French kissing with some young blond boy who looked shorter and younger than her.  Anyway, it was gross.

Then there are the dark haired Kardashians (“Keeping Up With The Kardashians”). The family seems to be all hoochied up, and could Bruce Jenner have done more plastic surgery to his face?

So here is what I was wondering, “what’s with watching trashy people be trashy?” I can kind of get it when it was someone really famous, like Ozzy Osbourne, but who are these people? Talk about shows I want my daughter never to see.  I wouldn’t let her have a play-date at their house, why would I want her to watch them on TV?

Here are some of the things all of these shows have in common:

1) Contemporary architecture and furnishings– You will never see a reality show in an Arts and Crafts or Spanish Revival.  From the Bachelor on down they are always Mc-Mansions with no taste.

2) Calabasas– It’s the Lourdes of reality TV. For those of you not from LA, Calabasas is a nouveau riche paradise. White people commute long distances for their large new tract homes, “good schools,” and cookie cutter upscale shopping centers. The devil collects souls at the Starbucks.

3) People I don’t care about

4) Editing, Editing, Editing– I’ve hosted a few reality shows (“playing it straight,” “Perfect Partner”), the show is all made in the editing room. You can give someone “conflict” with one slow motion stare and the right music. It is not a myth, producers do coach people what to say in the interviews. It goes something like this, “So, would you say it made you mad when Clare walked in late to the party? Okay, put that in your own words.” Is this reality, I ask?

5) The tears are real– When contestants are eliminated and people cry it’s for real. I cried when hosting. Because you are lab rats, separated from your world and your only “friends” are the other people on the show, so people do get genuinely upset. I have stayed friends with people who were on my shows. So that’s legit.