“Reality TV has Taken Over.”

The title of today’s blog is something right out of today’s “Daily News” (NY’s hometown paper), wherein the resident tv critic David Bianculli highlights the reality of American television next fall (or already in effect) . Some commentary off the top of my head:

“Alias” – I had taped the season finale last night, but watched the last half hour, and still don’t get it. What the heck happened? Jack Bristow telling his daughter Secret Agent Sydney (paraphrasing): “I never meant this for you…” What?! And, ABC announced that the next season won’t be until January 2005?! What?! Being a lawyer, I can figure out the arguments about this decision –

– ABC will show all 22 episodes without reruns interrupting, from January to May.
– By buying time for the writers, maybe the writers can write up some smoother and better storylines.

– We have to wait until January?!
– I personally don’t mind reruns – it’s a way to catch up on the episodes missed. I mean, I know that the age of DVD’s means no one has to watch reruns unless he/she wants to, but being slightly-behind-the-technological times, I seriously do not mind reruns and I ain’t going to get the DVD’s very soon anyway.
– We have to wait until January?!

The reports on the upcoming NBC sitcom/”Friends” spinoff, “Joey,” sound very positive. But, keep in mind – “Joey” is looking like the only new sitcom coming up this season. Eh? Are sitcoms doomed? All the media hype bemoaning sitcoms’ end – from Entertainment Weekly’s roundtable discussion to every tv critic column I came across. And, of course, the reality show dominance – the benefit of being cheap (no need to pay for writers; no hand-wringling over plots when it’s all a matter of throwing disparate personalities together; and no need to cast actual actors); easily made (cameras rolling…); and rendering every viewer a sucker by sucking him/her into the storylines/conflict/gameshow winner.

Watching the “Simpsons” last night would suggest that the sitcom isn’t completely doomed, or at least if you go by the NY Times’ article about it. Gosh, the article was spoilers galore about the episode, but analyzed how such a cartoon/sitcom is written out and utterly dedicated to the idea of making a viewer laugh – what a lot of so-called sitcoms don’t do enough of (say goodbye to “I’m with Her”; “Married to the Kellys,” and the Jim Belushi show (I think) – sadly all on ABC, a show once known for decently silly sitcoms like “Three’s Company” What is the state of ABC? I don’t know).

On the bright side, “Arrested Development” will be back – an absurd show which is “they can’t do that, but they did” kind of funny (which, considering the time slot, I could never watch but always wanted to). On the negative side: there’s a whole load of “The Swan” and other dregs on in the meantime.

I wonder if the networks are putting themselves in a position set for failure – glutting the market with reality stuff (quite honestly, my life is reality, so why do I have to watch others’ so-called reality? TV’s my escapism, hello, Mr. Network Executive) – and what will happen the ratings won’t be there? Will the pendulum go the other way, to give us watchable dramas and comedies again? If so, when? (no, really, I want to know, because crappy syndicated television is hardly satisfying me – am I so desparate for non-reality tv that I’d watch “Andromeda”? Apparently – and that was a pretty lousy episode last weekend). Hmm. No wonder why I’ve been watching so much PBS lately. (well, not the “Colonial House” stuff – I haven’t watched since “Victorian House” – anything else would be almost derivative…) … More hmm. [better stop before I start sounding like Marge Simpson…]

0 thoughts on ““Reality TV has Taken Over.””

  1. It doesn’t matter if it is a sitcom or a reality-game show. What is important is to give opportunities to intelligent writers to show their stuff. They’re going to shorts or feature films, or even theater because its the same half dozen TV producers for all of the shows.

  2. Ah, but networks aren’t asking themselves, “What can we do to serve writers?” – their question is, “What can writers do for us to make more ratings which makes us more moola?” More intelligent documentaries, reality shows, docudramas, dramas, dramedys, and sitcoms (all the stuff along the tv range) are great – but they assume intelligence won’t win an audience – and sometimes an audience (well, the American audience anyway) proves that intelligence isn’t what they want either. Eh. And, yeah, we need new producers on tv to put better stuff on tv (new network executives don’t cut it, as ABC proved), and not just new writers – but changing the tv industry won’t happen overnight.

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