Being Real on Television

untitled1.JPGUntil some years ago, the craze for Reality shows did not exist. We were quite content with our dose of daily sitcoms and weekly soaps. But no one could ever miss the artifice of these shows. However, much as we ‘connected’ with them, we knew it was all cleverly written, skillfully enacted and craftily directed. The (often unconscious) realization of how it was all a part of a mechanical process, whose main aim was to make profits, could not help but steal away some of the charm of these shows.

Then suddenly, reality shows invaded our primetime viewing and, before we knew it, we all were a part of the crowd and loved every minute of it. This new kind of reality TV was on a mission to make overnight stars. So whatever talent you had – a liking for music, a zest for dancing, a quick wit or ideas that can make money, now you could be on TV. And you could be a star. What’s more, even if you don’t have the above-mentioned talents, you could still be on TV. And you could still be a star. Be it a search for singing stars or couples who would set the ballroom ablaze, reality shows are not just getting more and more popular but also more and more varied.

What makes us love these shows is that they really get us involved. When we see a contestant laughing or crying, winning or losing, we think: hey, he is not an actor, this is for REAL! So we pick our favourites with great zeal, keep our fingers crossed (when not voting for them) and place bets on who is going to win. Surely, no other kind of show can boast of such an involvement at a personal level.

It is a matter of debate whether the winners of these shows can live up to the huge expectations from them. Some believe they can while others believe that most of them eventually fade away. Nevertheless, there is no denying that when it comes to grabbing their fifteen minutes of fame, no one can beat the reality show contestants. Till the final results come out, we are all in a state of nervous anticipation and safely forget our good old TV stars.

Of late, however, these reality shows are beginning to resemble their non-real counterparts. All kinds of extraordinary things happen on the sets and we hear rumours about how it was all a put on. These incidents may be few and far in between, but they deal a huge blow to the image of these shows. No matter how much it is hidden, there is a growing feeling that reality shows are becoming more and more unreal. These incidents may be few and far in between, but they deal a huge blow to the image of these shows. We must remember that the USP of these shows is that (we believe) they are completely real. It is a small wonder then that we are put off by anything that happens to look ‘fake’ on these shows. Surely nothing can be worse than a ‘false reality show’! I would surely pick a daily soap any day.

While there is no doubt that the craze for reality TV is far from over, it is also true that most of them end up walking a thin line between reality and fiction. Since these shows want us to give them more than just our attention, they should remain true to themselves. And as long as they do that, the viewers will surely be hooked on completely.

Ipshita Ghosh