New Year’s Reality Check


NoMoreRealityTV!I loathe New Year’s resolutions. Crap spouted by people who like to over-promise and under-deliver, just because it’s recently become a different year.

The resolve behind these big, bold seasonal commitments is easy to find and even easier to lose again.

A week-and-a-bit ago, I almost made one.

Not that I would’ve actually made one. But a week-and-a-half later I still have the same strong resolve to achieve my goal, mainly because the alternative is unpalatable – in much the same way that the idea of choking to death on one’s own vomit is unpalatable.

Because if 2015 taught me anything, it’s that I loathe Australia’s commercial television networks even more than I loathe poxy New Year’s resolutions.

Basically, thank fuck for state-run television. As cost-free viewing options go, without our Government-funded broadcasters I’d have nowhere left to run. Coz, in a nutshell, I can’t watch commercial television ever again.

The X-Files is being revived in 2016

It’s a bit of a shame, to be honest, because there are two or three shows on commercial TV this year that I’d probably enjoy (e.g., The ChaseHave You Been Paying Attention?, The X Files). Oh well.

Australia’s three free-to-air commercial TV networks dedicate hundreds of hours a week to so-called “news” and “current affairs”, which annoys the crap out of me, to say the least, coz to be fair Melissa Doyle, no I don’t need you to tell me four times in half an hour what’s coming up on Seven News at 6.

It’s just a cynical bid to bump up local content and snare extra positions on the weekly ratings chart, but even I have to concede that at least news and current affairs is real. However melodramatic or contrived the presentation, at least it’s more-or-less reality.

And, oddly enough, that’s the other thing the commercial networks chock up their schedules with to hit local content quotas – as well as being, hands down, the one thing I dislike more than the 24 hour news cycle: “Reality TV”.

 

Every Reality show axing has a secret. Soon after Nine revived it in 2012, they uncovered the secret of why Ten had killed Big Brother in 2008.

I’m not sure that label – which seemed so appropriate all those years ago – is even accurate any more, because beyond the first series of Big Brother and Australian Idol there’s been very little realism, let alone reality, about any of it.

Reality TV has no redeeming features. Each program in each genre is a copy of something else which, ultimately, has its roots in the earliest Reality TV concept of nearly twenty years ago.

High-profile judges have become a pre-requisite for talent quests and singing comps.

There’s nothing creative about any it. Reality is lazy, unimaginative, cheap – and, sadly, ingrained. It’s become expected now, in the same way that long-running drama and comedy was expected in the old days, when clever people actually put time and effort and creativity into producing quality Australian television.

Somehow, Reality viewers actually believe they’re being entertained by this bollocks, which is largely comprised of heavily edited footage, spliced together to present a contrived version of events surrounding people doing stuff. Usually mundane stuff. At times it’s clearly scripted and rehearsed. Even then, it’s still mundane.

MasterChef: another over-hyped heavily-edited slice of globalised mundanity.

But virtually every program under the Reality banner is now so far removed from reality that its hard to watch without laughing. Or gagging. And yet our networks still treat their loyal viewers with the same contempt, year on year, by providing a constant supply of reality schlock to gorge themselves on.

Year ago, it already seemed to me that things had gotten as absurd as they could get. It wasn’t just singing and hanging around with a houseful of strangers that had become a fly-on-the-wall prize-winning competition anymore, it seemingly anything you could think of, pitting Australian against Australian in a bid to win appalling amounts of prize money and experience the five minutes of fame attached to being crowned that year’s <insert name of Reality concept> winner. 16 years since the first real onslaught of Reality, virtually everything has been turned into a reality TV concept or, worse still, a worldwide Reality franchise. Thank you very much, globalisation.

Anyone remember 2006’s Yasmin’s Getting Married? Didn’t think so.

There were also more iterations of dating and marrying concepts than should ever have been legal (one of them was one too many); border security and highway patrol activities had also become Reality fodder; and there were – and still are – more variations on singing, dancing and cooking than you can poke a stick at.

Over the last 15 years Reality TV’s covered weight loss, travelling, restoration, modelling, makeovers, house-cleaning, wrestling, buying stuff (chiefly houses and antiques), selling stuff (also chiefly houses and antiques), identifying and valuing stuff (antiques again).

There’ve been Reality series about cosmetic surgery procedures, magicians, stand-up comedians, fashion design, being stranded in a jungle with a group of D-grade celebrities, running restaurants, running hotels, family life, life as sisters, life as BFFs… the list is as long as it is tedious.

A TV show about people having totally natural unscripted conversations about TV shows.

And in what’s surely one of the least-realReality  concepts of all time, even the time-honored tradition of watching television has been given the Reality treatment. About ten minutes of it was all I could tolerate, but I still haven’t decided if it’s truly appalling or just slightly ironic.

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