Quarter Lifer

Quarter Lifer: Re-Rant On Reality


Re-Rant On Reality

Some time ago I wrote a post on the horrifying programming choices being made by cable networks. As far as I'm concerned reality TV should be approached the same way I approach the red states: I can tolerate their existence as long as it doesn't fuck up my day. Well, since my original rant things have gone from bad to worse. I'd actually consider getting rid of cable all together, except the network channels are just as bad if not worse. I am sorry that I watch TV and possess an IQ higher than that of a german shepherd.

A&E and Court TV were at one time the first channels I'd check for some worthwhile evening programming. Now I can pretty much avoid these channels entirely since their programming is roughly the same shit every night.

A typical primetime evening on A&E involves a minimum of 2 episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter followed by at least 2 episodes of another reality show (usually Inked or Criss Angel, Mindfreak) and then some sort of hour long show such as Rollergirls or Intervention.

A typical evening on Court TV is not much better. There is some sort of 2 Cops episodes minimum rule they adhere to each night. Then there is the dreaded RED programs (see below for more on this fiasco). For approximately one hour you may on occasion get something watchable like Forensic Files or Body of Evidence. However, you will quickly pay for that hour of good tv because it is usually followed by Parco PI, Hollywood Heat (which so far as I can tell has nothing to do with crime) or some other equally dreadful show.

So I feel compelled to add some more irritations to the previous list I made concerning my utter disappointment with my formerly favorite cable channels (don't the people at these networks realize I pay for cable so I don't have to watch shitty reality TV 24/7?).

1) How many Swat teams does it take to change a lightbulb?
For quite some time I was confused about the new swat shows that have popped up. I couldn't help but notice that A&E and Court TV were advertising what appeared to be the same show, Dallas Swat. The networks aren't owned by the same company, so what the hell is going on? Then it clicked: THERE ARE TWO SEPARATE SWAT SHOWS.
What the fuck is that all about? Is it absolutely necessary that both Dallas Swat AND Texas Swat exist? Is there just so much swatting going on in the poster child for red states that we need two shows on two channels about the same fucking thing? Besides if they were going to invade Texas with video cameras to film shit, why not go with something much edgier & more appropriate for Texas? I'm thinking Texas Execution: Every week a new episode where we watch them flip the switch or inject the latest death row inmate for the amusement of the masses.

2) Marketing 101:
Am I the only one who remembers when Court TV's tag line was 'The Investigation Channel'? As in 'we put on shows that involve investigating crime'. My beloved investigation channel has now deemed itself Court TV: Seriously Entertaining. If I wanted to be 'seriously entertained' I'd drop acid & watch the screen saver on my fucking computer for 12 hours dammit!
Court TV's other new strategy is RED. Red stands for real, exciting & dramatic. Red is the weeknight corruption of Court TV from 7pm - 8pm central time. Do you know what they consider real, exciting & dramatic? The short answer is crap. Red involves such hot button shows as:
- Beach Patrol: Yep these bike cops live on the edge as they pedal through sand & surf to halt crime. Does anyone remember Pacific Blue? That piece of crap USA show from the late nineties? The one that kept Mario Lopez employed in between Saved by the bell & his lucrative game show host career. Well, trust me, it was better than this show.
- Hot Pursuit: Why do we need an entire hour devoted to car chases filmed with the equivalent of a webcam?
- Texas Swat: I've covered this one enough, more so than it even deserves.
- Las Vegas Law: Meet Parco PI junior. Much like Parco is a overly typical New Yorker, Bucky Buchanan is an overly typical sleazy Vegas lawyer type. Apparently if you get drunk or married or misplace your clothes while on vacation in Vegas Bucky is your man. He comes complete with the sleazy pimpmobile convertible (personalized plates & all) and a closet full of bad polyester suits.
I really think Court also needs to reconsider all the alliteration they are using in show titles too. Parco PI, Las Vegas Law, Bucky Buchanan - I realize somewhere there is a bunch of suits sitting around marveling at their own cleverness, but trust me when I say the rest of us don't find you people nearly as witty.

3) Rollergirls:
Roller derby complete with an accompanying musical tour (I have yet to figure out the connection between the two concepts). Again the film crews packed off to Texas for this abysmal excuse for a television show. Basically the show follows these terrifyingly butch women with clever derby names like Venus Envy & Punky Bruiser as they bitch about each other, get into cat fights, sleep with each other's boyfriends & make costumes all in the name of rollerskating. My irritation with Rollergirls started before the show even aired. Instead, the promo commercials for the show were more than enough to set me off. One of them actually had a scene wherein a nun was spanking the roller girls with a ruler in front of a chalkboard. Call me crazy but doesn't that seem more soft core than one usually expects out of A&E? I just can't even begin to put into words how much this show annoys me. It is probably second only to Dog the bounty hunter in it's stupidity.

Speaking of my favorite bunny hunter....Dog is the highest rated show on A&E averaging 1.6 million viewers per episode. As for Mr. Chapman? He is pulling in a sweet 100k per half hour episode. I went to college & I can't even find a job, but a high school drop out, convicted murderer, armed robber, white trash hick in need of a haircut can make $100,000 for 30 minutes on tv. Grr. There really is no justice in the world sometimes.

However, I should point out that right behind Dog is Cold Case Files (1.5m viewers). Doesn't that say something? Like possibly that there are a lot of us who still enjoy honest to goodness documentary tv about real people who aren't so unrealistic that the show needs to be called 'reality tv' for people to realize it is not actually some sort of sick joke. If these shows were even remotely legit they would in fact be called documentaries, as in a tv show or film that is non-fiction. Since these shows are not legitimately representative of reality they have their own little entry at Wikipedia.

Reality TV:
"a genre of television programming which presents unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual (if sometimes contrived) events, and features "ordinary" people over professional actors. Although the genre has existed in some form or another since the early years of television, the current explosion of popularity dates from circa 2000. Critics of the genre have claimed that the term is a misnomer and that what such shows portray is far removed from actual reality, with participants put in exotic locations and/or abnormal situations, participants sometimes coached to act in certain ways by off-screen handlers, and events on screen manipulated through editing and other post-production techniques."

Not quite the same as 'documentary' is it? (As a scary side note the wikipedia entry also informed me that reality shows currently account for about 56% of all American TV shows! Just shoot me).

I remember I started watching A&E when they used to show Evening at the improv. The improv had standup comedy that was the antithesis of comedy ala SNL. It was smart & interesting, but still made you laugh. It was ACTUAL entertainment. I continued to watch the channel for the documentaries on everything from crime to ancient Egypt. I'd revel in the Law & Order marathons or my Sunday morning ritual of watching Mysteries of the Bible. Those days are long gone as I now find myself terrified to put on A&E for fear that there is going to be a roller derby, a mindfreak or god forbid... a bounty hunter on.

To add irony to insult I have found myself watching a lot of (if only I were kidding) Spike TV. Yep, as in Spike TV formerly the first network for men. What started out as the anti-Lifetime network (ie - tv for women) actually has some good shit on. Gone is the wrestling, instead there is a plethora of CSI (the original) episodes to be watched as well as really good movies such as The Shawshank Redemption & The Firm.

Though my viewing habits may seem a tad stuffy I don't think I am the only one who feels this way. I'd rather watch a Caligula biography or a good Forensic Files over Fear Factor and Survivor any day. I also don't think canceling Growing Up Gotti & Airline, but renewing Dog the Bunny Hunter and Criss Angel, Mindfreak is a step in the right direction.
Hopefully, the networks will take a hint. Not everyone wants what is trendy or hot this month. Some of us still prefer quality over quantity.


Excellent post! Amen sister!

12:06 AM  

I Can't believe you hate Rollergurls!!! I am a little disappointed in you. It's hilarious, and shit made me think twice about job opportunities in Austin just so I can be a Rollergurl. Plus they are tough ass kickers, which is something I can get behind. It's better than a bunch of idiot women vying for a bachelor. The only other girls on Reality TV I even kinda respect are the 2 tatoo girls on Miami Ink and Inked.
I can't believe you hate my Roller-gurls....

3:41 PM  

Thank you Eric - I knew I couldn't be alone on this!

BEG - I love you dearly & I accept that you watch Rollergirls. I also accept that IV has a soft spot for the bunny hunter. However, I'd just feel better if these shows were on say Fox or the WB or some other channel I expect low brow entertainment out of. Anywhere but my A&E!!

11:54 AM  

Great post, though I admit that I really enjoy Rollergirls. Dog is funny once or twice just for the trash aspect of it, but it gets old really quickly. I'm more scared of his wife than I am of his mullet.

Now I don't exactly hold VH1 to a high standard, but their whole "celebreality" thing must be stopped. The Flavor of freakin' Love??? What the fuck is that? What self respecting woman would whore herself out to be Flavor Flav's girlfriend? Sure, Flavor Flav was the comic relief guy in Public Enemy, but reality TV has made him a parody of himself. I bet Professor Griff is just about ready to send out the S1W to bust a cap in Flav's ass right about now. And then there was Breaking Bonnaduce where we get to watch a former child star melt down under therapy. And what kind of losers are they going to round up for the next wave of Surreal Life? They're running out of Z list hasbeens.

4:05 PM  

I haven't read the blog here all that
thoroughly but assuming you're serious - Right on bra. I've fucking had it with Mexicans and Dog The Bounty Hunter holding me back from getting recognition here at Arby's. I've never met a Mexican, but if I ever do I'm going to tell him to get his criminal paws off Assistant Afternoon Shift Manager, stupid. Same goes for Dog. You know, I had some stupids tell me that he turned his life around like 30 years ago but I fear they're so stupid they are unable to see the forest for the trees in front of it. Anyways, boy I feel better about myself now, I don't know what's up with this ulcer though.

11:47 AM  



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