In Defense of Reality TV


Heather Havrilesky, late of Suck and currently of Salon, says thanks for that most-maligned form of boob tubery, Reality TV:

Lowbrow or not, all most of us want from TV is the chance to glimpse something true, just a peek at those strange little tics and endearing flaws that make us human. While the networks' safe little formulas mostly seem devoid of such charms, reality shows have the power to amuse, anger, appall surprise, but most of all, engage us. Isn't that the definition of entertainment?

Whole thing here.

NEXT: Kerry Got His Gun

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ad-free, instant access to Salon Premium home:

  2. Heather Havrilesky is Maureen Dowd but without the substance.

  3. So one could say she went from “Suck” to “Massively Sucks” or “Ultra Suck” or “order of magnitude increased suck.”

  4. That is fucked up.
    If you honestly want you entertainment to be “something true” you have a problem.

  5. I thought the point of TV was to escape the horribly depressing reality. Perhaps I was misinformed.

  6. I’m just going to say it. After months of listening to watercooler talk, I am confident that the demand for reality TV by the female portion of the population is more or less infinite. Women have brought this plague upon us. The infatuation with popularity contests and social games seems resistant to the standard analysis of marginal returns. The billionth apple is, in fact, just as tasty as the first.

    Thank God we have the NFL again.

  7. “I thought the point of TV was to escape the horribly depressing reality. Perhaps I was misinformed.”

    Comedy is tragedy happening to someone else.

    “Reality TV” is wildlife documentaries featuring human beings.

    I don’t know what explains those idiotic contest shows, though.

  8. I have to agree that critics and others are much too hard on reality shows. Most evenings, I play computer games and surf the web while my girlfriend (in the same room of our Manhattan apartment) watches TV, and I find “The Apprentice,” “Trading Spaces,” and Andy Dick’s hilarious “The Assistant” much less irritating than “Will and Grace,” “Friends,” and most of the films and dramas on HBO and Cinemax.

  9. Let us not forget that “reality” TV is only as “real” as the producers would like us to think it is.

  10. I say it’s spinach, and to hell with it.
    Green Bay v. Carolina tonight.

    That’s “reality”, baby.


  11. Yoko and me, that’s reality. Not some fucking football game.

  12. Howard Cosell got John Lennon to say that a football game made a rock concert look like a tea party. Sad, maybe, but true.

  13. There is nothging real about reality TV. What little I’ve seen is edited into quasi-scripted predictability. There’s always one contestant who comes off as more of a raging bitch than any real person can be (maybe not, no examples necessary.)

    There’s always some scandal halfway through, like the producers really didn’t know the contestant hads a drug problem or was in a porno movie.

    There is always one and only one romance.

    The ending is always supposed to be a twist, so you can guess that the real ending will be the exact opposite of what the producers want you to expect.

    If you want reality, you have reality. TV is not the place.

  14. I prefer old school reality TV, it’s called a documentary. What is passed off as real in these shows is anything but. It doesn’t bother me that much though, I choose not to watch it, but the Andy Dick piss take show is bloody hilarious. I wonder how many of the contestants in these shows look back and say to themselves, “jeez, I look like an arse…”. These people typically get what they deserve.

  15. From the article: As more and more contestants who appear on the shows have been exposed to other reality shows, the argument goes, their actions and statements will become less and less “real.” What’s to blame here is the popular use of the word “reality” to describe a genre that’s never been overtly concerned with realism or even with offering an accurate snapshot of the events featured.

  16. I have to admit that I like the Apprentice.

  17. I was watching the new Oscar De La Hoya reality show on Fox, and one of the 12 contestants who is white, was running the same tired line of racial bullshit about how white boxers have a tougher road to success then blacks and Mexicans, and I found myself wondering if Fox was encouraging this.

  18. As usual, Heather wishes our relationship with TV would be more like the relationship we have with, oh, real people on the street, at parties, in our homes, at cafes, in grocery stores, in bed, during crises. She’s one of the most annoying champions of TV power, and I’m not in the least bit surprised that Nick Gillespie would find her thin view of the world worth an H&R posting.

  19. Leave those Amish kids alone.

  20. I abhor virtually all of them but my guilty pleasure (is it confessions time judging from the posts?) was the first season of the Anna Nicole Smith show. That was literally a train wreck that was cringeworthy and shadenfreude (sp?) filled at the same time.

  21. Airline is best; The Casino is amusing.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.