more on TV

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Side note: this is late and therefore somewhat irrelevant, mostly because I started it two weeks ago and then saved as a draft and promptly forgot in favour of exams. Whoops.

Apologies in advance for errors in grammar or sentences that read badly – lately it has been essays > sleep, as is the student way.

I had a tough time keeping my presentation down time-wise – there are a lot of things I could say about reality TV, and about TV in general. In high school, all I watched was the Family Channel; this is a result of having a much-younger sibling, a relatively sheltered upbringing, and only one TV. We weren’t the kind of family who sat down to watch a ‘family’ show together – as I have said before, it was more Doctor Who and movies, and less weekly episodes. So until university, I had little exposure to reality TV and traditional ‘family’ shows.

I really enjoyed Megan’s presentation on Modern Family – it’s a show I’ve watched a few episodes of, and while I think it’s humorous, the way it unapologetically mocks almost every character seems more mean-spirited than ‘funny’. Not that it’s a horrible show, but as we were saying in class, the only ‘forward-thinking’ thing it does is present an example of a same-sex couple raising a child.

Re: that show I mentioned briefly – here is a 1-minute clip of ‘Golden Gays’ if you have 60 seconds to be entertained by highly edited, potentially stereotyped, retired gay people in Palm Springs. This show was cancelled (I think – although I can’t find any proof of this on the Internet) and didn’t have a ton of viewers, but it did an interesting thing, shedding light on the lives of these people. But, having watched the show, it seemed to shed light in a slightly judgmental way, inviting viewers to laugh at the challenges these people faced and their dysfunctional relationships with each other.

I have a lot of questions about the ways TV allows viewers to access lifestyles and challenges that may be different from their own. Are these shows really intended to teach us anything? Are we meant to pity people who are going through difficult times? Are we really being exposed to someone’s authentic life? In my presentation, I expressed a lot of dissatisfaction with the fact that so many shows are obviously manipulated by producers (to add drama, increase reactions, etc.). When ‘Breaking Amish’ was airing on TLC, I watched it in awe. While I was certainly learning new things about the Amish lifestyle, I have no idea if those things were true of all Amish people or even representative of the people featured on the show.

The critical eye is perhaps omnipresent, and our impressions are no doubt coloured by societal expectations and our own lived experiences. I’m not really sure where this is going, but what I’m trying to say is that although ‘reality TV’ claims to portray the real, it doesn’t seem to be quite there yet. However, in the last 5 or 10 years, the genre has begun to blossom (not to imply that all its developments have been positive), and no doubt it will continue to grow and expand in the coming years. Maybe one day it will actually show us something realistic … rather than a manipulated faux-drama that abuses the lives of real people.