Posted by: Admin | October 11, 2010

“Reality” TV is no longer for me


games of chance dressed up as "positive thinking"


I have a confession to make. I like watching TV programmes where people win life-changing amounts of money, or have a hidden talent discovered or lose a stone a week through extreme exercise. It cheers me up, cheering them on. Or at least, it did.

Son no. 2 – the musician – has nagged me for years not to watch shows like the “X-Factor” a) because they’ve “ruined” popular music by sanitising the music and manufacturing the acts, and b) because they are rigged. He has a friend who is a contestant on the current season and he tells me she is “scheduled” to go out in the semi-finals.


Let's all laugh at the fat people


So far, I have turned a deaf ear to all his pleas, choosing to believe that, on these programmes, dreams really do come true – because I want to believe it. I still believe in fairytales, Santa Claus and Disneyland magic.

The X factor franchise, owned by Simon Cowell’s SYCOtv, began in 2004 when it replaced “Pop Idol”. We Brits have always loved talent shows – who can recall Hughie Green and “Opportunity Knocks”, or “New Faces”? The X factor, however, along with “Britain’s Got Talent”, “Britain’s Next Top Model” (an American spin-off) “Strictly Come Dancing” etc are a whole new ball game.



a bit of harmless fun or a bear-baiting bonanza?


Last night, I watched the desperate guy with the decent voice for whom the show is a last chance perform. The producers had clearly decided to play up the desperation and styled him accordingly, thus setting him up for ridicule. I watched the camp duo in sparkly pink and lilac suits strip down to lycra cycling shorts and prance about, inviting us to laugh at the gay people. Then there was the fragile girl with the on-trend voice who got through despite dramatising a sore throat and failing to perform at her audition. I listened to the staged bitching between the judges and surfed the wave of frenzied crowd participation who whoop and screech at every opportunity and drown out the performance whenever anyone hits a big note. And I switched it off.

Bored. I’m done. The reason I enjoyed it – for the singing, the fun – has finally been obliterated by the bullying, the deception and the sheer nastiness of the whole event. Some – probably the 13 million plus who watch each episode – might say I’m exaggerating. Some – such as my son – might wonder what’s taken me so long.

So long “reality TV”, hello reality. From now on I’m going to read a book on Saturday nights.


  1. Hear hear! It’s vile and the nation is hooked on it. Glad to hear that sanity prevails in your house; I only wish that I was more widespread. I am used to being considered a bit odd (indeed, I may well be) for finding that kind of ‘entertainment’ distasteful. The format resembles a freak show and has replaced the gallows for the nation’s titillation. That is, if there’s not a disaster unfolding on the news channels.
    (please excuse the rant!)

  2. Rant away, my friend. There’s a trailer on the box tonight urging us to tune in tomorrow for live footage of the Chilean miners’ rescue. What are we hoping to see? A disaster? The men and their families sobbing with relief? When did we become so voyeuristic? It’s as if nothing has value any more unless it’s witnessed by as many people as possible.

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