Reality and TV not a match made in heaven — Alaska, maybe
Updated: July 5, 2012 4:18PM
Reality TV has taken a strong hold at my home.
I’m not talking about the popular hits everyone knows about — “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race.” Although unscripted, those shows are as contrived as any other TV show.
I’m talking about real reality TV, like the shows on History Channel.
Right now “Swamp People,” which portrays people who live in the swamps of south Louisiana, is a favorite show at our house. The characters in “Swamp People” seem to have only one job — catching alligators in the swamp.
A close second to “Swamp People” is a show called “Deadliest Catch.” On this program, Alaskan fishermen catch crab in the Bering Sea.
Finally, there is a new can’t-miss show at our house. This one is called “Mountain Men,” and it focuses on three characters who live without modern conveniences, mostly, out in the backwoods of Alaska, Montana and South Carolina.
Everyone in my family is transfixed by these shows. They watch them every week to see what happens to the folks in the swamp, or the fishermen freezing in Arctic waters, or the mountain men traipsing around the snowbound woods of Alaska, Montana and South Carolina.
I’m going to tell you what happens, week in and week out, so you don’t have to watch the shows.
Each week the “Swamp People” try to catch as many gators as they can and fill their gator tags. Sometimes there’s a storm, or a poacher or a big gator bothering a community. Sometimes they catch little gators, and sometimes they catch big gators. When they catch a gator, one of the fishermen, usually Troy, plays the line until he yells “Shoot ’em,” to his partner.
That’s the show.
On “Deadliest Catch” sometimes they catch a ton of crab, sometimes they catch just a couple of crab. At least once a show, a crew member gets hit by the crab cage and almost killed, or almost falls overboard.
The mountain men chop wood, hunt deer or trap fur-bearing animals, all the time making sure they don’t get killed, or frozen to death, or starve.
Such is the banality of reality TV, week in and week out.
I can’t figure out why the shows are so popular, other than they are on TV. And it occurs to me that perhaps television can make any mundane and boring job seem exciting and dramatic.
I suppose if a TV camera followed pharmacists around all day and filmed them counting pills and filling bottles of cough medicine and then you edited it in a way that maybe they put poison in the bottle instead of pills, well there’s a TV show.
If you filmed an electrician all week and then stuck a commercial break in the program just before he was to touch a wire and maybe be electrocuted, I bet people would watch it.
Or if people filmed me scanning the paper and researching story ideas, then took a shot of me staring at the blank screen trying to figure out what to write, or if I could write or even spell a word correctly, well that would be about as boring as it sounds. But if I did it at Starbucks and someone spilled hot coffee on me 10 minutes before deadline, then I think we have a TV show.
Sweetheart, get me rewrite!