As I was flipping through the channels tonight (this is the phrase people use when they don’t want to be embarrassed at what they were watching), I caught about 15 minutes of one of the new reality shows called For Love or Money. Apparently the formula of this show is that 15 women vie for the eligible bachelor and then can either reject him and take a million dollars, or keep him. The catch is that he gets to weed them out according to his own interests.
The little that I watched of the show was, of course, absurd. What was noteworthy enough to write about here was that there was nothing noteworthy about the show. How ironic it is that so-called “reality” TV shows are all plugged into the same formula. The original novelty of the “unscripted” TV show was its unscriptedness. Now it appears the networks have realized that real life is boring and needs a little scripting of its own to make it interesting.
This makes me think again about the nature of leisure. People seek reality (they must or the networks wouldn’t have put 20 new reality shows on in the summer) even in their leisure. Perhaps reality TV shows are a way we try to compensate for the fact that we usually aren’t really living when we watch TV. At least, we think, someone is really living. But the formulaic nature of numerous reality shows betrays the fact that it isn’t reality at all.