I think that it’s pretty safe to say that reality television has spread its tentacles into every sort of competition.
Making It aired on NBC from 2018 to 2021. Hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, a group of craftspeople faces off in hopes of winning $100k and being named “Master Maker”. Each episode contains two challenges. As with every program within this sub-genre, one contestant is sent home every week until the winner is crowned.
Though it is a reality show, it is not as mind-numbing and brain cell-killing as other shows. Though I am sure it is not 100% “real”, the participants have a genuine talent and seem to love what they do.
We all know, that in spite of ourselves, we still judge a person based on outward appearances. The question is, what do we do when our looks do not match what is expected or normal?
Dr. Pimple Popper has been on TLC since 2018. In this reality show, Dr. Sandra Lee helps patients with extreme skin conditions. Once the procedure is done, the hope is that they will be free of the anxiety that kept them from living a full life.
I have mixed feelings about this show. It has a carnival-esque quality to it, almost a way of using the “freaks” as a form of entertainment. Which is exactly what reality television is. But at the same time, these people want to live a normal life and are willing to expose themselves to millions of viewers to do so.
When an IP is successful, the expectation is that there will be a continuation of it of some sort. That does not guarantee, however, that it will be as successful as its predecessor.
Flip or Flop Nashville (2018) aired on Hulu. As with its HGTVreality showoriginator, the purpose of the program was to follow a couple who purchased, rehabbed, and then resold homes that desperately needed a makeover. This spin-off, it took place in Nashville. Formerly married couple (now business partners) Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins took on the task of revitalizing properties that needed much more than a cosmetic update.
As expected, there are unforeseen problems that may delay the project’s completion and drive up the costs. The hope is that when all is said and done, the house will be sold for a profit.
Like all reality television (and television in general), the program is formulaic. As much as I enjoyed the show and the buildup to the final product, it becomes repetitious and boring after a while.
I’ve only seen snippets of this show. That is all I need to see. Obviously, being reality television, I have to question what is “real” and what is scripted. I also have to question if participating is for the child’s benefit, or if the adults are living vicariously through their young ones?
It has been said that when we fall in love, we fall for the whole person, not for an attractive face.
The 2003 reality dating show, Mr. Personality, asked this question. Hosted by Monica Lewinsky, Hayley Arp was a single woman in search of a partner. The twist was that all of her would be significant others were masked. She was forced to get to know them without seeing what they looked like. As with all programs within this sub-genre, each episode ended with one contestant being eliminated until the winner was revealed and took off his mask.
I have to give the creators of this reality show props for creativity. They genuinely tried to do something different. Unfortunately, it lacked the spark that made its sibling shows successful.
Not everyone needs to live in a 3000-square-foot home with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, and a huge tract of land. For some, smaller is better.
The FYIreality showTiny House Hunting (2014-2017) follows homeowners as they search for properties that are a downgrade from their current or previous homes. As with its sister show Tiny House Hunters, the subjects of each episode are shown several homes that potentially fit their needs. By the time the credits roll, they have chosen their new residence.
Though the narrative is standard, what I find interesting is the realization of how small some of these properties really are. It becomes a question of how much one truly needs and what is important in terms of material goods.
For the most part, I dislike reality television. The manipulation by the powers that be makes me feel like I am being used for ratings. However, there is a certain segment of the genre that also pushes boundaries and opens doors.
The 2003 reality dating competition show, Boy Meets Boy aired on the Bravo network. Hosted by Dani Behr, James Getzlaff was the potential romantic partner of 15 men. As is standard for the subgenre, each vied for his attention and heart. In the end, he would choose one and perhaps walk into the sunset with him. Assisting James in the process was his bestie, Andra Stasko.
The twist is that some of the “mates” as they were called, were straight. If James chose one of the gay mates, they would win a cash prize and a vacation to New Zealand. If he chose a mate who was heterosexual and pretending to be gay, James would walk away empty-handed.
In a sense, it was progressive, given when it aired. Seeing the LGBTQ community as fully-fledged human beings was still a relatively new idea at the time. However, it was still a reality show, and questionable as to how “real” it was.
When we find the one that we will (hopefully) spend the rest of our days with, the hope is that we will get along with our in-laws. While that is the wish of every couple, that is not always possible.
The 2004 reality show, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, is based on this premise. Hosted by Claudia DiFolco, Randy Coy was then a teacher in her early twenties. She was introducing her fiance, Steven Williams, to her family. She believed that he was a fellow contestant. What Randy did not know is that “Steven” was played by actor Steven W. Bailey.
His job was to be as big an asshole as possible. If Coy was able to convince her family that their relationship was real, she would have won $500,000. But in order to do that, she had to play her part.
Obviously, the audience is in on the secret. Bailey was one heck of an actor, making everyone involved squirm. While it was mildly entertaining, I have to question why anyone would put themselves and their loved ones through this, just for some extra cash?
For most of human history, marriage has not been between one man and one woman. Polygamy was a common practice. Though it is not the norm these days, there are still men who are married to multiple women at the same time.
Escaping Polygamy is a reality show that has been on Lifetime’s schedule since 2014. It can also be viewed on Hulu. The program follows three sisters from Salt Lake City who escaped a polygamous group. Their goal is to help as many women as possible to do the same. They come from the FLDS and AUB Church, where polygamy is the norm and young girls are often married off to men who are sometimes many years their senior.
Though this is reality television, I feel like it is more “real” than other programs in the genre. What these women are doing (if they are being truthful) is allowing these girls to live on their own terms and not be forced into second-class citizenship.
It is interesting (to me at least) the many sub-genres within the world of reality television. For every viewer, there is a program to keep them glued to the screen.
Hotel Hell was on the air from 2012-2016. Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, the purpose of the show is to figure out why the hotel of the week is failing and try to fix it. As usual with this kind of show, the barriers include owners who are either stubborn or have their heads in the clouds, lack of processes, bad finances, etc.
By the end, the problems are supposedly fixed and the hotel is on its way to being successful.
Like all reality shows, it is entertaining. But, as a viewer, I have to ask what has been “scripted” and what is being presented as it was filmed?