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Arts in Review

Channel Surfing: Reality… really?

Reality television is technically unscripted programming that features allegedly ordinary people. Those who are not professional actors are considered ordinary, suggesting actors carry some sort of extraordinary status. There are different forms it takes, sometimes game shows, sometimes voyeurism, often it holds some kind of a challenge with a cash prize of sorts because only idiots would compete in stupid challenges (Minute to Win It, anyone?) for nothing. From its ground breaking roots in the big series Survivor and Big Brother, reality TV has branched off into communities, niches, and homes that viewers would normally not want to enter. This cheap, both in cost and quality, programming offers just about anything deemed just ridiculous enough to become addicted to.

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By Amy Van Veen (Contributer) – Email

Reality television is technically unscripted programming that features allegedly ordinary people. Those who are not professional actors are considered ordinary, suggesting actors carry some sort of extraordinary status. There are different forms it takes, sometimes game shows, sometimes voyeurism, often it holds some kind of a challenge with a cash prize of sorts because only idiots would compete in stupid challenges (Minute to Win It, anyone?) for nothing. From its ground breaking roots in the big series Survivor and Big Brother, reality TV has branched off into communities, niches, and homes that viewers would normally not want to enter. This cheap, both in cost and quality, programming offers just about anything deemed just ridiculous enough to become addicted to.

Whether you want to watch people bake unbelievable sweets on shows like Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, and Cupcake Girls, or you want to watch the aftermath of people who have for too long indulged themselves on such sugar-overloaded treats like Heavy, 600 Pound Mom, the big hit The Biggest Loser, and the UK’s Supersize vs. Superskinny. Such shows can either induce nausea and disgust or lead to emotional attachments made through that glowing screen in everyone’s living room.

For those who want to see the gritty details of life’s progression from love to marriage to new life, there is something at every stage. First comes love thanks to The Bachelor and twin sister The Bachelorette, Dating in the Dark, and Rock of Love 2 or Rock of Love Bus or need there be more? If the love train hits a rough patch, though, people can always indulge themselves in watching relationships that are far worse than their own, thanks to shows like Cheaters and Tool Academy. After love comes marriage and, more specifically, the I Do’s. Wedding dresses, wedding cakes, wedding planning, wedding weight loss, and wedding plastic surgery: there is a lot involved in becoming man and wife, and from the comfort of a couch, anyone can watch it all unfold thanks to drama ridden shows like Say Yes to the Dress, My Big Redneck Wedding, Platinum Wedding, and its spinoff Amazing Wedding Cakes. The most horrific train wrecks that are impossible not to watch, though, include Shedding for the Wedding where larger than life couples compete against each other to lose the most weight before their big day and Bridalplasty, which is fairly self-explanatory. After the heavenly nuptials, though, kids come into the picture with Outrageous Kid Parties, Kate Plus Eight, 19 Kids and Counting, and the truly disturbing Toddlers & Tiaras. Kids grow up, though, and they either seem to grow up to be on Beyond Scared Straight, where convicts tell the gruesome tales of criminal life to juvies, or Teen Mom. If the man of the house cannot relate to any of the above shows, there are always some more masculine options, like: Ice Road Truckers, Gold Rush Alaska, and Repo anything.

There are of course the celebrity classics following either Denise Richards or the frighteningly dysfunctional Hogan clan or even that rogue vixen herself, Sarah Palin. To top it all off, though, are those shows that cannot fit into any category no matter how hard one tries. Jersey Shore is in a league all its own with GTL and SBTS. RuPaul’s Drag Race definitely marches to the beat of its own drum. The Real Housewives are popping up all over the American landscape from NJ to Beverly Hills, OC to Miami. It’s only a matter of time before The Real Housewives Des Moines make their way into the picture. The ultimate reality TV all-stars, though, have got to be the Kardashian clan. No one heard of them until they enlisted the American public to keep up with them, and audiences are still puzzled by what exactly it is they do.

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