Is Reality TV Really Reality?

December 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Book and Movie Reviews

By Carolyn Weeks May

I never thought I’d like the reality television shows, so when flicking through the channels, I would always pass them by.  One night, desperately seeking for something relaxing to watch and after surfing from beginning to end and finding nothing, I started browsing the channels again and happened to pause on a program called Nanny 911. After watching it for a minute or two, I decided to finish watching the entire show.  I was delighted and went back for more.  Each episode found not merely one life being changed but an entire family being made new by parents learning how to properly rear their children. It was wonderful seeing Christian principles for raising children being applied in almost every circumstance.

Having watched Nanny 911 for several months, I soon found myself trying some of the other reality shows. Next it was The Amazing Race.  Gradually, I found myself watching more reality TV and less of the violent detective shows.  In the last couple of years, our family has thoroughly enjoyed Dancing With the Stars, America’s Got Talent, American Idol (everyone’s favorite it seems), The Swan and Biggest Loser.  Both of the last two shows focused on renewing people's lives by changing their physical appearances.

As anti-Christian as ABC can be, they still have a winner with Extreme Homemaker – Home Edition on Sunday evenings at 8:00 p.m.  This is a show that changes peoples' lives for the better by tearing down their old houses, which are always in total disrepair, and building them brand new ones. This seems to give each member of the family a whole new lease on life, and I have found myself with tears of joy many times, upon seeing their reactions when their new home is revealed.  The cast is likeable, fun, and they seem to delight in blessing the families they select for the home transformations.  Each one seems totally genuine and acts as if they have a heart of gold.  

However, I must question why it’s called reality TV.  In Extreme Makeover, the stars of the show pull up in their bus, get out with a bullhorn, and holler for the Smith or Brown or some other family to come out. The strange thing is that the family comes out acting totally surprised, but yet they usually have a microphone in the back waistband of their pants. How do they get the mike in their pants if they haven’t seen the crew beforehand? Odd isn’t it that somehow that modern device has just grown right out of their britches?

When you stop and think about the reality shows, do you ever ask yourself why they are called reality?  How can reality be captured when they have cameras and crew on hand at all times?  It’s hard to imagine people acting normal when they're on camera. I don’t ever watch, and don’t think anyone should watch, the Jerry Springer show, but there was a special shown about how it’s made and what the producers, writers and directors do to put on the show. All the people you see are called and told the show is looking for someone in a particular situation in life to be on the show, and they are directed to do the things they do. It made me wonder how much is real on any of these shows.  In the end, I decided for me it doesn’t matter, because several are entertaining programs without any vulgar language, profanity, unnecessary sex or violence and are refreshing to watch. Even if the viewer has to pretend it’s all reality, that’s okay. I still get tears in my eyes seeing people down on their luck being given an opportunity for a better life, so I’m sure I’ll continue watching the Extreme Makeover crew blessing these families beyond their wildest dreams.

About the Author:  Carolyn Weeks May lives in Georgia and writes spiritual poetry to encourage readers who are going through hard times. She has published a book of her poetry, Reflections of His Love – Inspiration for the Soul, which can be found at Amazon.

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