Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jo's Reality TV Show

Is it just me, or does this woman scare the crap frighten you too? Where on earth did the producers of the show find her, and how did she figure out be abusive to people and get paid millions of dollars to do it? Do the folks on "The Biggest Loser" really need to be insulted, shouted at and violently mistreated in order to lose weight? Have the producers figured out that this woman adds drama and some sort of a spectacle that would otherwise not be there without her? In the fullness of time, when folks look back at TV history, will this be remembered as television's finest hour?

What does it say about us as a society -- as a civilization -- if this is what we rush home from work to watch every night -- this is what we consider entertainment? Has anyone given any thought to what it might be doing to our brain cells? If some far-fetched conspiracy theorist wanted to come up with a conceivable theory of earth being taken over by aliens, it would be this: first saturate everyone with mind-numbing reality shows, lower the population's IQ points steadily and rapidly over a period of months and years, and then swoop down on the stupified inhabitants of the planet. The targets of the invasion will be so dazed, they'll think it's just another reality show.

TV really bottomed out with the Gosselins, believe me. And it just got worse when their marriage inevitably dissolved, and Jon and Kate became superstars of the entertainment tabloids. The biggest news story a couple of weeks ago was Kate's new hairdo. Can you even imagine? How many brain cells do you think folks lost following that train wreck? Were people challenged to think about anything or to learn anything new? Reality TV is like a drug, it stupifies people, and they can't get enough. They need higher and higher doses in order to get their fix. Well, there's even a reality show for that, with Dr. Drew Pinsky, where we get to watch people we don't even care about -- such as Heidi Fleiss, Mackenzie Phillips and Tom Sizemore -- overcome their addictions. And another 2,000,000 brain cells bite the dust.

Oh, goodness ...

Well, I am off to wash my bathroom and kitchen floors today. If I videotape it and send it to TLC, do you think they'll pay me to put it on TV? "Jo Washes the Bathroom Floor" - a new reality show, tonight at nine. Don't miss it...!

It couldn't possibly be any less boring that everything else folks are watching ... right?



Land of shimp said...

Well, I watch Top Chef when it is on, and The Amazing Race so I'm afraid I also indulge in some "reality programming".

There's actually a bunch of reasons that reality TV took over programming: money. They are cheaper to produce because script writers with actual talent aren't free, but that's a rant for another day.

I don't watch any "Watch these people behave in the basest manner possible!" type of shows. I frankly don't even understand them. I never liked the book The Lord of the Flies and I don't get any pleasure from watching people stoop.

However, I think the impact of reality TV is greatly exaggerated and whereas almost everyone I know watches at least one version, there do seem to be limits to how much temper-tantrums-by-adults they are willing to watch.

The other big story was how much plastic surgery a young woman was willing to inflict upon herself in the course of one day, probably so as to garner attention (that or she's mentally ill, and desperately needs help).

I don't have any answers, Jo. I think the popularity of those "candid reality" programs is that nine times out of ten, those people are behaving in ways that make the audience feel as if they are handling their own troubles well enough.

I think they make us feel better about what freaks we generally aren't, in our own lives. Or something :-)

*Waves goodbye to whatever Jo's mop is busily whisking away*

Yup, it does help to limit the dirt exposure, mop, hours quiet contemplation. We all need to clean out our mental cobwebs from time to time.

Maybe that's what reality TV does for some?

Cedar said...

It is a plot by the U.S. to distract the rest of the world so we can come and take your oil...

Nancy said...

Add to that the 20,000,000 people killed in wars, murdered, tortured, etc. - just in the 20th century - and I think the aliens would be scared to death of us.

TomCat said...

Canadian Blonde Beat-down, ready for prime time on Fox. ;-)

Actually, most literature centers around conflict in some form, often the inner conflicts we all have. Reality TV just takes that conflict theme and dumbs it down to a level appropriate for products of the US educational system.

Barry said...

I don't watch TV very often but when I do I'm no fan of reality TV. A surprising number of members of my family got large screen TV's for Christmas this year, but I can't see going to the expense until the quality of shows improves.

And I'm not holding my breathe.

Kathryn said...

I was going to say, "I don't watch these shows. I hate reality TV." The truth is i rarely watch them (only when at my ILs & feel i have to be "polite" & stay).

But we do watch the program "Living With Ed" on the Green Channel. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps because he is touted with being a "Green Celebrity" & is well-known & we wonder what passes as "green" in the affluent community. Some of the info on the program is interesting. Some of it is old school (CFLs as opposed to LEDs). Over all, we find him much more credible as someone "green" than Al Gore.

But the program seems to focus a lot on the issues between Ed & his wife on their life style. I never can help but wonder how much of the animosity is real & how much is scripted. Frankly, i find it pretty irritating.

PhilipH said...

Reality TV is, in the main, the pits of television. Cheap and nasty most of it, especially stuff like Big B[r]other, Slebrity Get me outta here crap and suchlike are just total rubbish - as far as I'm concerned, that is

However, as a lifelong ballroom dancers my wife and I do like to watch Strictly Come Dancing and 'So You Think You Can Dance' - together with Dancing on Ice.

Can you spot the connection twixt these three shows? OK, it IS reality tv, but some skill and real hard work is involved - so we DO give it our attention.

The rest you can stuff. Thanks!

Pouty said...

I watch the Millionaire Matchmaker and Hell's Kitchen. I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of being a millionaire or a top chef so I find them interesting. Those are the only reality shows that interest me in the least.

Brenda said...

Hahahahh..."Jo Washes the Bathroom Floor" I have had thoughts like you just expressed about TV shows...especially reality shows. I have never watched them, except for Dancing With The Stars and American Idol. And I am not hooked on them. I really don't care if I watch them or don't watch them. Most of the time I prefer not to. I don't like talk shows either, like Oprah, or any of the others. I really wish someone would come up with some decent shows to watch, because I do like TV.

Pouty said...

I don't like talk shows either.

jojo said...

I too, am completely fascinated by the folks who run home from a long work day to sit down and watch relity t.v. I don't understand what possible thing you could gain from's mind numbing, maybe that's it. I don't get it at all and I don't watch anything that is so moronic. And YES, that woman from the biggest loser is scarier than..I don't know what! I don't think I'd be the least bit motivated to do anything but cry if she was "helping" me to lose weight.
O.K., get back to your floors and I'll be looking for your new's got to be your turn by now!

JoMo said...

Well said! I haven't seen the biggest loser but I get your drift - how does abusive talk help anyone or anything?

It's bizarre in TV land. I know these shows are cheap to produce so that is a huge factor.

I know many people who go on these shows are lured by the idea of fame - I can't imaging anything worse - being publicly dissected, gossiped and lied about, followed around and generally ripped apart every time you make a move. Terrible!

Please Jo, don't let those cameras in to film you tidying up! Your technique will be headlines. Lol!

Have a great weekend!

TC said...

I might have commented earlier, computer weird. I hate reality shows, most are just as scripted as other shows just tackier with worse acting.
Now House or Lost?? Grays Anatomy is like # 1 though.

The Bug said...

I can't watch reality tv because I have a phobia about watching people make fools of themselves - I can't stand it!

However, if you were to start a show about cleaning floors then I think you could add a lot of punch by coming to my house & doing MY floors. Heh.

Russell said...

Simon was always the one everyone waited for on American Idol - no question. He was the star. Randy, yawn... Paula, well... when she was drunk it got sort of interesting... But it was Simon who everyone loved to hate.

I remember on The Apprentice the boardroom scenes kept getting longer and longer. They started out as about 6 minutes before The Donald said "You're Fired!."

It was not long before the boardroom scene got to be half the show. People seemed to like hearing everyone put others down.

Of course the same thing happened with Survivor. Tribal Council was popular to watch people roll their eyes and say bad things about each other.

With that said, I have not hardly any such shows for the last few years. But maybe if they got REALLY down and out and mean ....! Heh!!!


You have some very astute readers who have posted some excellent responses to your post.

Back in 1977, I worked for Nielsen and then for another sub-contractor to Nielsen who had the main task of gathering data about what TV viewers thoughts were. It was called D.A.R. (day after recall).

The results showed that back 33 years ago (essentially an entire generation plus 8 years), people remembered the 'glitz' - the 'glitter' - advertising that was colorful; had up-beat music, and in the various shows that were available back then (in the USA), those shows who had EXTREME displays of EMOTION, and/or were 'sensationalistic' in some manner or form.

Thus the real 'PROGRAMMING' of the viewer's MIND, was pretty much born, as the continued research now knew how to present commercials with high-interest appeal; how to draft scripts that would keep the majority of the viewers interested.

They also deteremined that most people who watched television TO EXCESS, had less than average IQ's, and normally about a 10th-grade education.

Given that was the case 33 years ago; the CONTINUED DECLINE IN OUR COUNTRY'S EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND QUALITY, now you can see why they've 'geared' their programming to reach the mind-set of a 12-year old.......

In 1967, I donated our single television to the Kalamazoo Mental Hospital, and refused to bring one back into my home until I married my current husband in 2000 (he insisted we have one).

What I now do is contain my viewing to PBS which is always educationl; informative - has many lovely musical programs, as well as historical programs.

I also watch the Food Network channel; only those shows that give me frugal ideas for cooking, and nothing elaborate or artificial.

I watch the History Channel; the Discovery Channel, and the Travel Channel because they teach me and show me things and places, that I might not visit in person.

I watch the Weather Channel to get the weather, and the local talk-show/news channel because it's 100% committed to our local community and its events and issues.

I believe people can use TV properly, just as they can eat properly for a sound 'diet' of both food and entertainment or information.

In all cases, it is the individual who has to decide if they want to turn the 'tube' on, but I can tell you we'll never have a huge screen (we have a 26"), and because of my own personal experience in my job capacity to engage in television research and the viewers' reaction to television advertising and programs, I know there has definitely been a very long-term effort to create the 'CAUSE AND EFFECT' situation, so that advertisers can control and direct purchases of their product; so that corporations can promote their services and underwrite their political choices, while the USA offers up some of the WORST news channels, and WORST TALK SHOWS, that are ALL GEARED TO CREATE A COMMON MIND-SET - it's easier to control a nation, if you can brainwash them via the television screen; movie screen, radio, and even I-net!

You wash your floors periodically; the 'boob-tube' brain-washes its viewers 24/7!!!

Belizegial said...



perhaps if you put in a purple ballerina tutu whilst cleaning the bathroom and kitchen floor, that would be worthy of reality tv.

I don't really know as I don't have cable; thus, I am not subject to the vagaries of reality tv.

I do like to watch American Idol and So You Think You can Dance, etc. when our local tv producers feel the urge to air them locally.

Happy Weekend!

Canarybird said...

Jo I've only heard about most of those reality shows, as the only one we get here is the Spanish Big Brother which I don't watch either. We do get some of the American popular series (House etc) but I can't seem to get interested in them.

I prefer the docu channels and some old movies. As we have satellite TV from all over Europe, including Cuba, North African countries, Korea and Japan, I like to see the news as it's reported in different lands and cultures. And any really good movie is always welcome as we don't use DVDs or have Netflix or things like that.

But if they make a reality show of you washing your floors, that would be one that I wouldn't miss! :-) I hope you get some snow soon on the mountains. I'm looking forward to watching the Olympics from Vancouver.

susie said...

Hi Jo,

I read once that tv was aimed at the IQ of a third grader (eight year old). I can believe it. We watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune because we try to beat the contestants to the answers. Other than that, it's NCIS and Criminal Minds. Used to watch numbers, but that comes on too late for us now.

Don't have cable or satellite, so we only get one channel where we live. Mostly the TV is off because it's too boring.

A.M. said...

hummm... I wonder who these people remind me of... they should tape our work.

Anonymous said...

I told my friend that I needed Jillian in my life, and she said she would make me cry. And this is probably true. I don't
lling at her Jillian taught her how to swim. Sure she yells and is abusive but it's kinda like what a drill sergeant does. You have to break people all the way down to build them back up again. The thing about reality TV is, it's not real. It's a blown up form of reality that everyone thinks that their life SHOULD be like, but really it's not. It's you cleaning your bathroom floor. My life could be on TV with a little bit of editing...

JeannetteLS said...

Some of these shows... sort of like colliseum shows in the fall of Rome. Pit people against one another... humiliate and surround them with crowds. We don't kill them off--we see how far they will go to demean themselves and others for a hundred grand.

Some are not cruel. THe dance competitions give me real pleasure sometimes. And I am fascinated by what a bunch of fashion designers can do out of stuff they get in a produce store, or how someone designs a beautiful space with stuff from teh Dollar store!

I've never watche Big Brother or Survivor. Watching people deliberately hurt one another? Nope. I Don't much like it. Watching people who are out of control lead out of control lives?

I do agree... money drives a lot of it. Cheaper to produce by far.

I miss the West Wing...

A Woman said...

Yikes!!!! I absolutely avoid reality shows, actually most TV. Coming home from a long days work, it's nice to get in the house, walk the dog, turn on jazz or classical music and cook something delicious for dinner. After that I may turn on the TV. I generally surf for movies, watch PBS or on weekends HGTV for the gardening shows. I do watch the news, but it is more times than not the most depressing period of the day.

It is funny that my TV does run all day while I'm away at work. I leave it on for the dog. Background noise helps drown out the exterior noises so she won't bark as I guess there is some use for reality TV or soaps. I haven't noticed any neurotic behavior by Mandy yet. Grin

Mia said...

When people talk about the best and most popular TV shows it's always M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy, All in the Family, Seinfeld, ER [the early years at least]. Nobody ever mentions "reality" shows.

Watching a train crash is entertaining for a minute but art will always outlive spectacle. Everybody knows the Mona Lisa. Nobody remembers the time Leonardo invited people to watch him paint while standing on his head.

One of the great things about living where I live is that we don't get most American programmes. I seem to hear about a new "reality" show every week but luckily I never know what it is.

SweetPeaSurry said...

I could not agree with you more on this issue. I'm a HUGE HUGE HUGE self-actualized TV junkie. I do not however gorge on junktv, aka reality tv programming. I could care less who wins the race, I could care less how many nappies octomom goes through, I could care less if so and so loses 1110lbs. I DO care however if Christopher Chase saves the person he's guarding, I DO care if the losties get off that crazy island, I DO care if a struggling dancer wins the chance to really reap the rewards of their hard work and determination. Okay ... the last one is technically a televised competition. And my one mind numbing vice? Hell's Kitchen. I love that show!

Zanthie said...

I LOVE IT!! The fact that you dispise reality TV :) I try to avoid it as much as possible, though I do have other indescretions (eg I am an avid follower of The Bold and The Beautiful)

...I hate MasterChef and Big Brother and all other alike shows, there really cant be that much drama in someones day to justify a daily TV show...The bitching and nastiness that people are forced to endure! No wonder people think you have to be a COW to be popular :)

Ok it is justified in maybe Keeping Up With the Kardashians (which I am still yet to watch)


A human kind of human said...

Why do people watch this dribble? As you correctly observe, there is nothing to learn from it.

Pauline said...

Jo - if you want to be even more worried, read The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt. It's a sobering book.

I didn't have a TV for twenty years or so and didn't miss it at all. Now that the cottage I rent has cable available I watch the news if it happens to be raining and I can't be out of doors. I'm always sorry. The square screen is best for viewing movies I can choose myself. (Though a reality TV show about the two of us avoiding reality TV might be fun ;)

kenju said...

I started watching the Biggest Loser when it first came on, but I stopped because of her. There is no reason for her to be as abusive as she is.
Simon Cowell has mellowed a little in the last season or two. I don't watch Top Chef because that guy is a menace to all.

Carl said...

Everyone... Turn off your TVs... Take a walk, read a book. Do anything else.

Alicia said...

I have to admit that I do love American Idol. I do rush home on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights to watch it. Not so much for Simon or Randy or Paula but because I love to watch people going for their dreams.

It's true that many of the auditioners (not sure that's a word)are only there for their 5 minutes of fame, but there are some truly talented people in the world that just need a break.

Carrie Underwood? Jordin Sparks? David Cook? Daughtry? Kelly Clarkson? These were truly talented individuals who just needed a chance.

But I do agree with you dear Jo that there are far too many people who want to be entertained by watching other people suffer, grovel and humiliate themselves. That's not for me and it makes me sad that some people seem to feel the need to watch others pain as entertainment.

Jo said...

Thank you for your wonderful comments, everyone. I responded to each of you individually, and then Blogger pooped out on me and ate my response. Arrrgggghhhh! *heh*

Have a fabulous day, everyone!


CarlaHR said...

I often ask myself why we have a TV and pay for cable when all we watch is the news and the occasional special on PBS. I often feel out of tune when people talk about some program they saw - but on the rare occasion when I have tried watching I really have a hard time relating to what I see. What ever happened to all the good shows we used to get - or is my memory selective?

libhom said...

You have more patience than I. I can't watch unreality TV long enough to offer any kind of critique of it other than I find it incredibly tedious.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I used to watch more TV...... then I started blogging and reading blogs and now I drag my laptop to bed. I sometimes feel like my life is a reality show and I am the star............ My show has low ratings, as no one seems to care about my haircuts!

Paula Slade said...

Reality shows are a much cheaper form of programming to produce than continuing dramas. However, with dramas you sometimes lucked out and got decent writing, acting and characters that you cared about. Frankly, I have very little use for what passes as "entertainment" these days.

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