Reality TV – Numbing Brain Cells or Expanding Our Horizons?

photo by autowitchI recently returned from an out of country vacation where I was nearly 100% unplugged. No Cable TV, no Internet and extremely intermittent cell-phone access. On my return to the U.S., facing a stiff case of jet-lag, I gave myself one full couch potato day to recover. Remote in hand, I again explored the vast terrain of cable programming.

Having been media deprived for nearly 14 days, I was struck by ‘option overload’. I had made it one full channel rotation – starting at 002 and ending somewhere in the channel 1999 range – and couldn’t make a choice.

I clicked back thru starting at the HD channel level; five movies, one Lifetime original and thirty-some reality shows. I don’t know, they were all a blur, but I think I remember things like Cake Boss, Donut King, Who the Bleep Did I Marry, Nanny Wars, Wife Swappers and even Hoarders as possible choices. Just when I felt reality overload setting in I happened upon one single scripted show – a rerun of CSI somewhere (Miami, New York, Sheboygan – I just don’t remember). And just then it hit me, programming is not and never will be the same. The reign of Reality is upon us, and its succession line ensures us a long, long rule.

I thought for a moment– “Is Reality TV expanding our minds or numbing our brains?” Are we heading down the road that the movie Idiocracy predicts as a society, or are we expanding our minds by gaining insights into worlds we could previously never have seen. I grabbed my ‘second screen’ and took to the Net to see what others thought, and am equally curious what all of you think about what Reality has done for programming. Here are my questions:

At the end of the day, I personally believe in Reality TV. I find it sometimes enriching, sometimes educational, and nearly always self-validating. In fact, it often makes me feel pretty good about myself! How about you?

Phil Macko, SVP of Sales for Megatrax

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