Think Reality TV is losing steam? Think again. I was watching season 5 of Hell’s Kitchen the other night and thinking to myself – we will never get tired of these shows. Peep TV is hear to stay because it is fundamentally about the only thing that we are intrinsically, effortlessly drawn to: other people’s lives. Reality TV is the mass entertainment version of apes grooming each other. (And when Chef Ramsay calls people “fatty” and “stupid cow” it’s funny every time!)
The New York Times on the upcoming The Real Housewives of New Jersey makes what we like about these shows perfectly clear: “Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’ franchise, with its conspicuous consumption, may seem like the opposite of sensible, economy-conscious programming. But in the recession, this three-year-old series, following the lives of rich women interested in clothes, Botox and pinot grigio, is more popular than ever… The episodes rely on cutaway shots showing the reactions of the real-real people in the women’s lives: the cringe of a child, the frown of a disapproving sales clerk, the sigh of an overworked nanny.”
a scene from the upcoming Real Housewives of New Jersey
Also the LA Times show tracker column recently featured a MTV Reality TV show in the works called Bridge and Tunnel. Once again, the main course is embarrassment and gossip, with side dishes of yearning, desperation and humiliation: “He goes on a job interview in Manhattan. The banker dude he interviews with tells our young friend that he needs to lose the diamond stud earring and that maybe someone somewhere will let him work for free. And then our young hero mangles all sorts of words, like thanking the guy for his ‘construction criticism.’ ”
We are apes picking knits out of each other’s hair.