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Reality TV Onslaught

I'm not really into the reality television. I've watched a few shows, but I'm not what you'd call a huge reality television buff. It's possible that my distaste for the genre stems from my low opinion of reality in general; if I'm watching television, I want something as wildly unrealistic as possible.

However, that hasn't stopped me, in my role as internet television loudmouth, from being aware of the various shows. I keep myself informed, and I was able to participate in the April Fools Page last year, which seemed to amuse people who knew what they were talking about. I even watched most of The Amazing Race and American Idol the last time they were on.

But here's the thing. I recently got a new apartment which came equipped with a roommate. And while said roommate more or less shares my attitude toward reality shows, the two or three she watches are not the two or three I watch, and before you know it, there are fifteen reality shows cued up on the ol' TiVo. I realize the math doesn't quite work out there, but apparently there's some sort of synergistic effect going on. All I know is that I might end up watching the All-Star season of Survivor even though I've never seen the show before. Hey, here's a question: don't most of the people who used to be on reality shows hang out at the same Los Angeles bar? So won't that make the cast of this season not "a bunch of strangers" but "bar buddies"? It seems like that would change the dynamic considerably.

Two of the shows that are currently on that my household has been watching are America's Next Top Model and Celebrity Mole: Yucatan. Oh, and The Surreal Life. There was also Celebrity Poker Showdown but that's already finished. So I guess I'm watching three reality shows now. No, four: American Idol will have started its three-day premiere (or whatever Fox is calling it) by the time you read this.

Of the shows about celebrities, my favorite is Celebrity Mole because they're not playing for charity. Let's face it: Keshia Knight-Pulliam is not going to be able to live the rest of her life on her Cosby millions. So why not let the celebrities fight it out for real? Whoever wins can go ahead and give their prize to charity if they want, but as far as I'm concerned, being stuck for two weeks with Stephen Baldwin means they've earned their prize. The only time I'm interested in a celebrity's charity is on that poker show, when Nicole Sullivan and David Cross started sniping at each other over whose charity was more deserving.

True to its name, The Surreal Life doesn't make a bit of sense. So far I've learned that some girl from The Real World (which, like Survivor, I haven't watched because I'd apparently rather spend my time on fifth-generation ripoffs) thinks she's a celebrity and Vanilla Ice is always as crazy and violent as that time on MTV when he freaked out and scared Jon Stewart half to death. Oh, and Erik Estrada seems like a pretty centered guy. At least, compared to Tammy Faye Messmer and that girl from Baywatch.

Since America's Next Top Model has just started, I'm not sure whether I'm going to like it or not. Oh, I know it had a season already, but I wasn't watching then. As far as I can tell, it features young, fresh-faced girls being berated by Tyra Banks. So already it sounds like a success. I think the problem for me is that I don't have any great investment in finding out who the next Top Model is. I'm not even sure I know who the current Top Model is. It seems like this show is for people who read Vogue a lot. Incidentally, one of the commercials during the first episode was for a video game called SOCOM II, which is heavy on the guns and general manliness. I mention that because it seems like an odd thing to advertise on such a girly show. Presumably, someone is banking on the appeal of fresh-faced girls and snarling Tyra Bankses to pull in the same guys who watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion show.

And then there's American Idol. You already know what you're getting with American Idol: a few weeks of terrible singing and British-accented insults, followed by several weeks of kids prostrating themselves on the altar of pop culture fame, followed by an overhyped anointment, followed by a clip show. Personally, I think you could probably just watch the clip show and get all you need to know. It would certainly cut down on your Ryan Seacrest exposure.


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