Among the more popular sub-genre that lies within the reality television genre, the celebrity dating show is an interesting one.
For a few years in the mid to late 2000’s, VH1 dominated this sub-genre. Two of their more popular shows were Rock Of Love (2007-2009) and Flavor Of Love (2006-2008).
The concept was like any reality show dating contest, with the difference being that the man at the center of the show was a famous musician. In Rock Of Love, the musician was Poison front man Bret Michaels. In Flavor Of Love, the musician was Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav. Both men had around twenty to twenty five women vying for their affection. As the season wore on, one woman would be eliminated at the end of every episode until one was chosen as the winner.
If nothing else, these shows were mindless entertainment. Brain cells were not needed to watch the train wrecks that Rock Of Love and Flavor Of Love.
Do I recommend them? Not really.
Science and the ability to play with nature has always fascinated humanity. But there is dark side to science that sometimes creates more problems that solutions.
In the television series Orphan Black (2013-2017), Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) is a street hustler who finds herself at a train station the moment another woman takes her life by jumping in front of an incoming train. Eager to make a quick buck by pretending to be the dead woman, Sarah notices that she and the woman are mirror images of one another. What starts out as a quick con job reveals that she and the woman are not long-lost twins, but clones. As Sarah discovers the truth about the many clones, she also discovers that someone is making a concerted effort to kill these women.
Can Sarah find out the truth or will the secret forever remain a secret?
This show was one of the most entertaining, intelligent and provocative science fiction dramas of the past few years. It also helped immensely that star Tatiana Maslany played all of the clones in their various incarnations.
I absolutely recommend it.
The hero or heroine’s journey is a common narrative. For some, that journey is the rocky road from youth to maturity.
The television series Merlin (2008-2012) told the story of the young man who would become one of the greatest wizards in mythology. Starring Colin Morgan as the titular character and Bradley James as the future King Arthur, Merlin is initially a servant in King Uther’s (Anthony Stewart Head) Camelot. As time goes on and Merlin grows up, he will become a friend, a companion and a trusted adviser to the man who will be known as King Arthur.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this series, but the fact that it lasted four years says something about the quality of the program.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Many go into politics for altruistic reasons. Whether or not their reasons change over time is to be seen.
In the 2007 film Evan Almighty (a sequel to the 2003 film Bruce Almighty), Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) has changed careers. After spending years reporting the news, he becomes the news when he is elected to Congress. Sensing that Evan is a virgin politician, Congressman Long (John Goodman) is trying to pressure Evan to co-sponsor a bill that will allow developers to re-create the National Parks in their own image. Then G-d (Morgan Freeman, reprising his role from Bruce Almighty) tells Evan to build an ark. Evan is not exactly a believer in the instructions he has received. Torn between co-sponsoring the bill and the more than obvious signs from G-d, Evan has to make a decision. Should he save the world or co-sponsor the bill?
As sequels go, the film is not that bad. I also certainly appreciate the message about taking care of the environment. This film is the type of film that you might see in theaters or find it while flipping through the channels on a rainy weekend afternoon. But it is the best sequel ever? Not really.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Every genre has their own sub-genre. The reality television genre is no different. One of the more popular sub-genre within the overall concept that is reality television is the show about the personal life of someone who is rich and/or famous.
In 2004 & 2005 A&E included Growing Up Gotti on their schedule. The show took the audience into the everyday life of Victoria Gotti (daughter of the late crime boss John Gotti) and her sons. Set in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, Victoria was then a single mother trying to raise her boys while dealing with everything else that life throws at you.
While the show was mildly entertaining, I can look back and see that it relied a bit too much on stereotypes to draw the audience in.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The game of cat and mouse between the police and those committing a crime has been a standard narrative for years. The question is, how can a writer or writers make their narrative unique and different?
In the 1996 movie, Fargo, Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) has got himself into a financial pickle. He has embezzled money through his father-in-law’s car dealership. About to be caught by his father-in-law, Jerry cooks up a scheme to have his wife kidnapped so her father will pay the ransom. The kidnapping does not go as planned. This catches the eye of Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a pregnant sheriff who is determined to figure out who is responsible for the three murders in her jurisdiction.
What I like about this movie is that there is an almost sick sense of humor. Unlike other cops and criminals stories which are often just a little serious, this film has an undercurrent of humor that makes it stand out within the genre.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
It’s easy to stay committed to your partner when there is no one else around. But what happens when the temptation to cheat on our partner is right in front of your face?
That was the premise of the early 2000’s reality show, Temptation Island (2001-2003). Four couples, who claim to be committed to their partners are split up. The women are housed with single men and the men are housed with single women. Will these couples stay together or will the temptation to stray outside of their relationship win over?
From my perspective, this program was the lowest of the low, even for reality television. It represents how far some will go for their 15 minutes of fame, even if it means potentially cheating on your partner.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
One of the more underused narratives in the high school genre is the story of a student or students just trying to deal with life while trying to not get the attention of a teacher or principal.
This was the basic narrative of the late 1990’s/ early 2000’s television show, City Guys. Jamal Grant (Wesley Jonathan) and Chris Anderson (Scott Whyte) are normal teenage boys who go to high school in New York City. Getting in sticky situations that only teenage boys can get into, they hope that their antics does not get back to Ms. Noble (Marcella Lowery), the school principal who is tough, but fair with her students. But hopes often spring eternal.
The show lasted five years. It was one of those innocuous high school shows that was mildly entertaining and semi-memorable.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Sometimes, we meet our significant others in the most usual of places. That includes the set of a reality television show.
On the 4th season of the VH1 reality show, The Surreal Life, Christopher Knight (best known as Peter Brady in The Brady Bunch) met Adrianne Curry, the winner of the first season of America’s Next Top Model. He was nearly fifty, she was in her early twenties. That meeting led to a relationship, a marriage and the reality television show My Fair Brady (2005-2008).
To say that this relationship and marriage was tumultuous is an understatement. While their marriage ended in divorce in 2013, it was one of those reality shows that was somehow mind numbing entertainment.
Do I recommend it? Why not, it’s harmless.