Thursday, May 12, 2011

Television in Reality

Ell-Leigh Says:

Last week a friend of mine, (who it was I literally cannot remember, my memory is clearly going in my old age, har har) started to rant about his deep dislike for the shows of Chris Lilley, the Australian TV writer-producer-performer-comic. His shows were all just based on stereotypes and were poorly performed, he complained. The reaction from the group was a sudden tense awkwardness, as if someone had made a racist slur or an ignorant comment about “the gays”. Another friend stepped in, attempting to clear the apparently murky waters by explaining that, 1, she enjoyed his shows and was looking forward to his new series Angry Boys, and that 2, aren’t stereotypes what a lot, if not most comedy is based on anyway?

I watched the first episode of Angry Boys on abciview this afternoon, since last night when it was on my sister had “bags-ed” the TV to watch Glee, a “feature length” episode she’d already seen, no less. I thought the show was spot on and am planning to watch the rest, but it does make you wonder where the lines are drawn when it comes to good taste, and who draws them anyway. Lilley’s comedy likes to balance right on the edges, so can we really blame my friend for disliking it, and vocally too?

Similarly, the battle of good taste rages on when it comes to the reality tv which now takes up so much of the time on our television schedules.

I dislike Masterchef. Perhaps it was all of the pressure and thus sweating going on in such close proximity to food, or the fact that I found all of last year’s contestants to be entirely the antithesis of captivating, or they just seemed like wanky jerks. I didn’t balance on the edge of my seat, waiting to see who would win the golden apron (I’m assuming that’s the prize); and I found all of the twitter action associated with the finale incredibly annoying. However, it would seem that I’m the one in the wrong; Masterchef is apparently very high quality, classy television to watch.

Seriously though, I love food as much as the next foodie. I go to the farmers markets to buy fresh produce, I have a mini-potted-veggie-garden on my balcony, I even know how to make my own vanilla essence. Just last night I created a beautiful vegetable casserole with - sorry to toot my own horn here, but – perfect herbed dumplings, all made from scratch. My kitchen bench is home to around 20 different cooking books. And I love watching regular cooking shows; but Masterchef simply annoys me.

This is in huge contrast with The Biggest Loser, for rather obvious reasons, but also because it doesn’t seem to be at all acceptable in polite society to enjoy watching it, despite how attractive the trainers may be. I have a love hate relationship with the show, which you can read about here. Despite Loser being equally tacky and cheesy with it’s competition show manipulations, I still manage to find it watchable, even though I’m much less interested in exercising and calorie counting as I am with cooking delicious food and eating it. Dare I mention this when the people I want to impress are around though? Heck no.

It seems that once a show falls off the cliff of social acceptability, it can never climb back up again in the eyes of the public, and how dare we enjoy a show which the cool cats of culture pooh-pooh, at least without doing it in secret. I suppose the only way to truly rise above the issue of only watching “culturally acceptable” television is to do so on dvd, watch it on the internet after someone mentions it or to cut television entirely from One’s entertainment schedule by replacing it with books (but only the good ones of course, don’t dare pick up a Dan Brown novel,) or magazines (only the well written ones though, no Cosmos or Cleos, here) or art-house films (but not the ones that are too mainstream, like Donnie Darko).

Or you could stop giving a crap. 

Lauren Says:

I specifically remember when I first really became aware of Reality Television as a genre and phenomenon. It was late 2001, after the end of the first season of Australian Big Brother, and I made up my mind. This Reality Television stuff, I thought at the ripe old age of twelve, it’s not going to last.

Obviously now after a decade of RT bombardment, I can admit to having been wrong on that particular count. Just when it looks like it could all be over, and the tired old renovation and makeover shows have come to an end, out pops a beauty like Masterchef which amps the whole craze up to a new level. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, now that my television viewing habits are no longer controlled by my parents I’ve become quite the Reality Television fan.

I’ve talked before of my love for The Biggest Loser, Masterchef and the Top Model franchise, the excitement and suspense wrought by these ‘contest shows’ being something I’ve found becomes quite addictive over the seasons. I enjoy watching lives ‘being transformed’ and seeing people face up to challenges and pushing themselves to find their limits. I think that it’s sometimes educational, but mostly entertaining, and I do find that there are times I am inspired to live a little differently because of the people I watch.

Viewers, I do think, do not take the ‘reality’ in Reality Television as a serious notion. At no point do they believe that everybody else in the world bar them regularly has to climb an ever pace increasing stair wall until their body gives up and the plunge into a swimming pool on a regular basis. It’s all for show, which is a very good thing, seeing as it is indeed a piece for an entertainment program.

1 comment:

  1. Lauten, your television viewing habits haven't been controlled by your parents for years....especially since we like to watch the same things anyway!


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