I watch way too much television. I admit it. You can ask my wife. (Just don't ask her during "Law & Order.")
Television should get out of the reality business 081209 SPEAKINGOUT 2 Capital City Weekly I watch way too much television. I admit it. You can ask my wife. (Just don't ask her during "Law & Order.")

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Story last updated at 8/12/2009 - 1:15 pm

Television should get out of the reality business

I watch way too much television. I admit it. You can ask my wife. (Just don't ask her during "Law & Order.")

I have favorite series and news programs, and I love old movies. After being on vacation recently, where I didn't control the remote, however, I realize there are lots of shows I never knew existed.

These programs are what they call "reality shows" - supposedly real people in supposedly real situations, though I suspect some of them are as authentic as Bernie Madoff's tax return.

One series, for instance, showed tattoo-smothered people inking the skin of customers, but only in the spots not already covered by metal piercings. And I had been embarrassed to wear my sunburn in public!

Another show had repo men - well, repo people, I suppose, though it was difficult to ascertain gender, even from reading their tattoos.

Their job was to steal cars from deadbeats who were behind on their payments. Every other word was "Bleep!" It was tough to pick a side in their dispute, so I went out to check on our vehicles in the driveway.

Another series shadowed police officers as they pulled over a car filled with punks, thugs, junkies, gangsters, hooligans, ne'er-do-wells and people with too many tattoos. Hmmm, this could be educational, I thought.

Just then, as the cop talked to the cameras, a body flew past him and crumpled to the pavement. A passing motorist had been watching the cameras and lights instead of the road and had slammed into a pedestrian.

That wasn't real; that was criminal - on everyone's part.

Another show swapped a city woman and a farm woman, making them live with each other's husband and kids. I thought that kind of behavior had gone out with the swinging 70s.

I saw about two minutes of a series about kids whining that their parents were too strict. A teenager complained that farm life was "hard," all the while sneaking a smoke out of sight of her parents (who were probably off doing her chores) but in front of the TV camera. Did she think her parents would never watch the show they were a part of? No, probably not.

Still, I count my blessings. I've never seen a minute of "Idle Americans," or "America Ain't Got No Lack of Talent," or "Dancing With Bunions," or "I'm Married but My Wife Is Out of Town So I'm Practically a Bachelor."

Though my record is unblemished on these song, dance and dating shows, I know they exist because they get mentioned so much on real news programs. It really ticks me off that I even know about Jon and Kate.

Maybe reality programming is popular because it's good; more likely, it's on the air because it costs less than shows requiring scripts, brains and class.

And it's everywhere. I used to be able to tune in to the history, food, science fiction and nature channels, but now even they are inundated with reality shows.

I could have told you it is dangerous to fish for crabs in the ocean, to drive a big truck across ice and to ask Donald Trump for a job. I could have told you a documentary about Sasquatch didn't belong on the history network.

The final straw, though, was learning that on the science fiction channel they have reality shows. Science fiction, reality. Has the TV world gone mad?

When I collapse at the end of a day with the clicker in my hand, I want to unwind and maybe be informed. I don't want to pick the next pop star, watch a drunken lout swearing at police or pick out my first tattoo. I get all the reality I need from life.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.