Stephen Colbert coined the phrase Truthiness, defined as â€œa truth that a person claims to know intuitively from the gut or because it feels right without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.â€ Based on that definition â€œrealityâ€ television shows even stretch that broad definition to something closer to realitiness, â€œthe relative reality based on colorful characters and stupid premises without regard for the relative reality of either.â€ Or something like that.
TV producers make these shows because theyâ€™re cheap. Following Americansâ€™ general disregard for written communication, they donâ€™t need writers â€¦ or sets â€¦ or anyone to create and maintain a plot. They have about as much regard for true reality as Glenn Beck â€“ who has only a nodding acquaintance with truthfulness and who turns out programming that is a sort of steroidal reality show based on frequent mental breakdowns and outrageous lies does.
Do we really need three shows about tow truck drivers and two about self-described â€œhillbilliesâ€ who catch giant catfish with their hands? Or two about people who make millions buying crap from storage units? How about a plot based on an â€œextreme exterminatorâ€ or a meter maid.
The winners in my book are the Real Housewives of (Fill in the Blank) â€“ from New York to Rabbit Hash, KY. They star as outrageously jealous trophy wives who dress like middle aged Barbies, have very bad plastic surgery, and have the charm and disposition of drunken, pill-popping, pit vipers. No weave is safe from being snatched from a head and there are plenty of complaints at swanky restaurants about how their diamonds just donâ€™t sparkle as they should. They bleep out the word, â€œfuckâ€ a lot too.
But, the televised canary in the coal mine â€“ Ooo, a show about canaries, coal mines, or selecting newspaper for canary cages in coal mines, would be a surefire hit â€“ is an entire network of reality shows. Safely boring Court TV â€“ which used to show an endless parade of trials about women beating their former hubbies to death with asparagus â€“ is now TruTV, a spelling-challenged confection of, â€œnot reality, actualityâ€ shows. Actuality? Really? Are things so bad we have to invent more definitions for what were once perfectly useful words?
If TV producers upwardly mobilize themselves into the 1% by churning this crap out cheaply, the 99% eat them like candy saved from a hoarderâ€™s kitchen as an alcoholic eats chalk, smells skunk asses, and cowers from a bad case of arachibutyrophobia (the disabling fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth). But, everything has a logical explanation and this is it.
These shows are so popular because no matter where you stand on the socio-economic scale there is always someone on a lower rung. Everyone likes to feel superior once in a while so they look down from their perch at some poor bastard who hopes for fame and fortune, but gets only shame and ridicule (DAMN YOU DNA! I AINâ€™T THE KIDS DADDY!). Even the top .0003 percent likes to see Maury use DNA to sort daddy babies from momma babies and both babies from incest victims or lie detectors to see if that boyfriend should be kicked to the curb for serial cheating (and apparently indiscriminate fathering to boot).
For all of you who claim to never watch TV, you must be telling a little white truthiness. Someone has to watch all those 3rd-rank celebs and Bristol Palin cut a rug. Masterpiece Theatre is certainly no ratings juggernaut. Admit it, you like shows about blogging from a log cabin. Hey, a reality show based on the life of a â€œrealâ€ logger.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!