A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends from school and her husband went on a game show which just aired in Australia. When she first told me she was going to be on this show, I was excited for her because it was exactly the kind of thing she loved doing – the fun, excitement, challenge, being in the spotlight and of course, the chance to win some cold, hard, cash. At the time, I told her I didn’t want to know the results – whether they won or lost. I said I wanted to be surprised like everyone else when I watched it. Then as the air date got closer and I started seeing the promotional ads appear on my TV, I started getting anxious. I sent her a text message in the morning that said: “If there’s even a remote possibility I might have a heart attack while watching you on TV tonight I need to know the ending NOW!!!”, to which she replied, “You need to watch. Heart attack guaranteed!”
Then it was showtime! I turned the TV on, sat and waited patiently as the host (not my favourite person on Australian TV) talked through the introductions and explained how the game worked. Then came the categories for the questions. They could have lost the lot in Round 1 which would have made for a very short show indeed but thankfully they didn’t. There were 8 rounds in total and I got increasingly nervous with each round. I was playing along. The worst part about these game shows is the long dramatic pauses. They always annoyed me – the long pause as they made you wait for the big reveal, and then just as you thought they would show you the answer, the host would say dramatically: “we’ll show you the answer when we come back after this break!” I can tell you exactly what I wanted to break at that moment! To cut a long story short, the show did not end in my friends’ favour and I nearly had a coronary from the anxiety (for the record, I would have lost the lot, too). Indeed, I should have taken heed of my friend’s warning: “Heart attack guaranteed!”
Whilst millions of people are addicted to game shows and reality TV, I am not one of them. I won’t deny ever having watched them on the odd occasion but they have never made me want to rush home to watch. Game shows and talent shows can provide some entertainment when you see genuine talent or if you actually know or have some sort of emotional connection with the participants (like I did with my friends). But they have never been able to hold my attention long enough to see them through an entire series…or the next. There have been shows where I may have watched the freshman year out of curiosity, but subsequent series have been harder to get excited about.
To me, reality TV is like a slap in the face of the many talented writers out there. I am a big fan of fiction writers, on screen and on paper. Those of you who have read my previous posts, or have read my fanfiction or are following me on Twitter will know this already. Of course, game shows and talent contests have been around as long as television has existed. But the flood of reality TV has become almost unbearable since the Hollywood Writers’ Strike in 2007-08. I love a well-scripted show, whether it be comedy or drama and this applies equally to the small and big screen. After all, if I am going to invest time and money into something, I would like to know that somewhere someone has put in a lot of effort into thinking about the words and stories that are expressed rather than some opinionated person’s judgments on another person’s talent (or lack thereof), or in the case of reality TV shows, some editor’s manipulation of the truth. Yes, reality TV is not as real as you may be led to believe.
So if you are a fan of game shows and reality TV, or some blurry combination of these (is The Farmer Wants a Wife reality TV or a game show…who wins?), leave me a comment and let me know why and what you love about them. Perhaps I have been missing the point completely? And if there is no point to those shows, then why should I spend time watching them? If you are like me, and don’t watch them or only watch them occasionally, leave a comment and support my case 🙂