I’m a Reality TV producer. I make the stuff. Oh, go ahead, scripted television snob, snark away, I’ve heard it all before. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll confess: we have created a Monster. But why are rational Americans surprised by Trump? Twenty years after The Truman Show sent up a cautionary flare about our obsessive self-regard, we are now living in a reality TV show -- a nation of over-sharers and approval whores, each of us our own pathetic little brand. We’re all producers shooting our own docu-series now.
So Reality TV has given us the worst president in living memory. There’s that. Still and all, I will defend Reality TV as a viable and ground-breaking storytelling vehicle right up until the day Trump drops the big one on North Korea and I’m out of a job. As a longtime producer on The Bachelor and its numerous spin-offs, I’m here to point out that it’s time to stop dissing the genre and acknowledge it as a powerful narrative delivery system that can hold its own with anything else in the streaming cosmos - I’m looking at you, Transparent.
Just as Balzac and Zola’s novels savaged the petit bourgeois of 19th century France, with its inflated self-regard, it’s frivolous customs and status-hunger, so Reality TV shows like The Real Housewives franchise do much the same. Reality TV is the new Comedie Humaine, television as 19th century French Social Realist novel.
This is not a popular position to take in Hollywood (first, you have to find someone who’s read Balzac). Read the rest