Marty versus Reality TV

It's everywhere and yes I do watch it. MTV got my attention with THE REAL WORLD, which despite the name had very little in common with things that really happen, and later ROAD RULES, which I found more to my taste. And yes, I did indeed send in an application to the shows way back in the day. Since then reality TV has blossomed and is present on nearly every channel you can find. Some of it I like, but much of it leaves me could.

What I don't like is exploitative reality TV. This is the stuff you see with d-list celebrities or normal people for the sole purpose of giving the viewers a chance to see what a mess other people's lives are. These are things like WIFESWAP or the romance based shows like THE BACHELOR. Its all about the drama with no decent content.

The competitive reality TVs have their charm. I do like them a lot better. There's five of them that really stand out in my mind as good ones.

HELL'S KITCHEN. Looking past Gordon Ramsey's yelling at people and the drama of the competition, the viewer gets a good look at what goes on in a restaurant kitchen. Ultimately, this show is about cooking and the art of cooking. I like shows that promote art.

THE APPRENTICE. They show episodes of that program in business classes. Its very educational. I did enjoy the first of the celebrity seasons which showed off not only good business insights, but raised a lot of money for numerous charities.

TREASURE HUNTERS. This only went for one season on NBC but was really great television. Teams quested through numerous historical based puzzles and many locations across the country and even moving to Europe for a leg of the journey. This show was really educational along with being a lot of fun.

THE BIGGEST LOSER. Taking a drama out of the equation this show is all about one thing: making people healthier. Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper are really phenomenal at what they do. Even as a guy in relatively decent shape I have no doubt that they could reduce me to a sweaty wad of Play-Dough in about an hour. They give great health and fitness tips in every episode. Unlike the exploitative reality TV shows, this show highlights achievement instead of just gawking at failure.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. No surprise here for my regular readers (all five of you). This so is all about dance. It's educated me a lot in the art. I can't dance, but I love to watch it done well. These young people grow and learn every week and the viewer reaps the benefits of seeing truly wonderful performances. It has brought the art of dance to the mainstream and even elevated the art as the dancers and choreographers push themselves to be innovative.

You can probably spot the theme here. Reality TV is good when it makes lives better. Entertaining us is fine, but inspiring us is something to strive for.

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