NPR flashback: Snooki and Real Housewives aside, nice sometimes works on reality TV
As I get used to life back in humid Florida after two weeks in the California sun, I'm kicking off the week looking back at an NPR commentary I never got around to posting in this space: a look at the mindnumbing state of reality TV.
It's a commentary which leapfrogged off a point I made weeks earlier, when I noted television loves to feature anti-bullying messages in news coverage, series plotlines and public service announcements, but also rewards the bullies who dominate reality TV shows such as Hell's Kitchen, Dance Moms and any number of Real Housewives.
That commentary drew a long essay from reality TV expert Andy Dehnart, who insisted jerks on reality TV are not bullies, because the people they abuse are tacitly agreeing to undergo such treatment by going on the shows in the first place.
I'm not sure that's true. Do the kids on shows such as Dance Moms or Toddlers and Tiaras really have a choice about participating in these drama-filled shoutfests? Do they even realize what they're getting into? And just because someone agrees to endure public humiliation and abuse for money, does that mean the person insulting them with anger-filled tantrums suddenly isn't a bully?
Not buying that one.
At any rate, that back and forth inspired another commentary where I looked for an example of a reality TV star who seemed to be succeeding without indulging some of the genre's worst elements, and I landed on Canadian TV star Mike Holmes.
Check out my analysis below: