Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie – looking back

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A reprinted article I had published April 27th 2005

I’m a reality TV junkie. I know this is a taboo declaration, especially from a working writer in this town; however, I admit it. Shhh. Send me to a 12 step program, give me an intervention, but I can’t help myself…reality television is 100% addictive.

When SURVIVOR broke the barrier of reality programming five years ago, I eagerly watched as every day people outwitted and outlasted each other on some beautiful island oasis where they didn’t shower and seemingly split a tiny piece of fish and rain water among nine of them. True, craft services was only twenty feet away, but I was hooked completely. Call me pathetic, but I actually cried in anguish when the show’s beloved Colleen Haskell was ignominiously booted. Back in 2000, life was easier…reality shows were a novelty and there was still plenty of terrific television on which to squander my hours. FRIENDS was in its seventh season, and with Monica and Chandler’s looming wedding, all was good in my fake little utopian world.

Five years later, however, television is not as simple as it once was. Seven days a week, reality shows compete with long- standing comedies and dramas and, folks, I hate to say it — but the reality shows are winning. Ask any four out of five people walking down the street what happened on TWO AND A HALF MEN last night, and even if they saw it — you’d get blank stares. Yet, I can bet you that most of those clueless passersby know who American Idol contenders Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis are. And where does that put a reality TV show junkie like me? I predicted this! I said Trump would be a hit! I knew BIG BROTHER would draw a crowd. They’re pretty…They live in a house… They vote people out! So, where does that leave the future of television? I admit with shows such as WHO’S YOUR DADDY and WIFE SWAP, show creators are starting to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel, but give me real rather than fiction anytime. At least I don’t know where the plot is going. And I am going to keep watching…for now.

Note: I wrote Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie as an article for a media journal in 2005. Six and a half years later, it’s amazing how much has changed…and how much has stayed the same! I still watch a lot of tv, both reality and scripted; however, the only reality shows I tivo any more are America’s Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway…hmmm… three shows. Okay, and if I were being truly honest, I’d probably admit to watching The Biggest Loser, Pawn Stars, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Yeah…six and a half years later…I’m still a reality tv junkie!

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