Why is reality TV so unreal?


Let’s be honest. I never did like reality TV at all. Never. Ever. Not for a moment. The idea that TV can be real repulses me.

When I was tiny and growing up in the middle of India in the 80′s TV had just started making inroads into Indian households who gathered religiously around the TV every Sunday morning to watch Ramayana or Mahabharata or dance and whistle when India scored another century. That was entertainment!

We kids were still just discovering cartoons. I still remember my shock when I had realized one day that it was not really playing for real somewhere, but it was careful programmed and recorded. That is why the word – program. If it is programmed, how can it be real? I don’t think I understood then or even now!

Anyways, I continued to miss the bus with television shows. While the country was hooked to KSBKBT and such serials I happily kept to myself rather than get involved in fake show with fake people in even more fake and absurd situations. I have been told Baa lived up to 109 or so and Tulsi was married some 3-4 times and even had kids which she didn’t know about or something of the sort – I still wonder how!

Hop-skip-jump and we arrive to in 00′s where reality takes over and people still love their TV sets – even more as they are now slimmer, flatter and wider. Improves perspective, no?

So now we go a step further and say we are bringing you live action and reactions and still manage to keep you in emotional upheavals that will keep you coming back for more! Are our audiences and producers so naive that they believe real life is so over melodramatic to be completely over the top? Are are pseudo celebrities so bored that choose to act in “reality” shows?

With the recent roster of singing/dancing/comedy shows and the love (or is even that fake!?) showered by fans upon it I wonder do we even understand the difference between real and reality anymore. Or thanks to years of mindless TV viewing we now perceive better-than-real-reality as an antidote to our tiny tired lives which may not hold too drama but just too many struggles. Is that really entertainment then? What about all the news channels (barring a few) who try to dish something as serious as news with high levels of melodrama and entertainment/eyeball value? Why do we even need so much entertainment?

That is precisely what got me thinking about the way we humans behave and do what we do. Why do we watch what we do as a nation? Can something as simple as an idiot box (is it even that anymore?) make us so idiotic? It might be true, we are the company we keep. Why is there a need to own 15 minutes of fame when no one can remember half an hour after the show who you even were?

From where I come from a weekly television serial could still bring and keep the family together. Today we may have a TV set in every room, with a show targetted at each and every family member and yet we are so drawn apart that we look for reality elsewhere except within our homes and hearts.

What do you think?

P.S. : Just by the way, what really got me thinking about all this was chancing upon the promos of a particular musical reality shows which happened to feature my-up-to-that-moment-favorite singer. He sadly is no longer my favorite. Doing reality shows is just too wannabe for my taste. I am better off with Raghu Dixits of the world!

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