Monday, May 2, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Reality Based TV: What's Your Opinion? (by Melissa)

There was an EXCELLENT show on MTV... I am trying to remember the name of it. Something like "If you knew the real me" I think.

Anyways, the kids I knew that watched that show were STUNNED with the stories they heard. Not that they weren't aware that bullying and peer pressure happened. Of course they were. But the nature of the teenage mindset is to be intrinsically motivated, so oftentimes they don't see past their own struggles and maybe the struggles of the friends and loved ones they care about the most.

It was eye opening to them to see that the jock might have a drug or alcohol addiction. That the popular kid might have a mental illness. That the quiet kid might actually be suicidal. That socially perfect doesn't mean they have their stuff together and life is gravy.

So, in some regards I think reality TV can be educational, or at the very least socially eye opening. Is it always or even most of the time? No, most of the time it is purely for entertainment value and the fluff can't even be deemed semi-educational or slightly realistic. And that's not horrible really, we need entertainment, as long as this "reality" tv isn't hurting people. But we can't turn our nose up at the fact that some (maybe very little of it, but indeed some) reality based tv can have an educational and good purpose to it.

Admittedly, I am an  American Idol addict. Ever since I was a young girl I loved to sing. In no way am I a wonderful singer, but like many people I sing in the shower and sing to the radio.  Watching American Idol allows me live vicariously through the contestants my dream to be onstage and singing for an audience. The dream to be recognized from being an everyday person to becoming a star.

The problem I have with this is the judges and the voters. Probably because I tend to not agree with them! Having a love/hate relationship with Simon Cowell for years made it hard to watch the show. But honestly, you don't realize what you had until it is gone. Now we know that his judging style was harsh and rude but at least he had the decency to be honest in his opinions. Currently the judges are perfectly pleasant, and will tell a tone deaf person they are absolutely wonderful, if a little pitchy.

Where has the reality gone in American Idol? And don't even get me started on the voters. How can they consistently vote for people with very little talent and not vote for the ones who have real talent? Is it a popularity contest or a singing competition? Where is the reality aspect of American Idol?

Obviously it works though if I spent the last few minutes writing about it and WILL be tuning in to watch regardless of my opinion of the show being sub-par at this point. What can I say? I am hooked. Reality, or semi-reality wins.

So, what is your opinion of reality TV? Love it? Hate it? Is there any educational value to it at all? Is it purely fluffy entertainment programming? Are people on these shows being exploited for their issues (think Intervention, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, Hoarders)?