Friday, August 10, 2012

Time for Me to Get a Job in Reality TV

Dear TLC (or Lifetime or Oxygen or OWN or Any Other Channel That Specializes in Highly-Edited Reality Television);

I remember back in the good ol' days of television (re: 80's and 90's) that you all had writers that would create storylines and characters. These people (with the help of great actors) could weave tales that would make us laugh, cry, feel good, or leave us hanging for months (I was not old enough- but still wonder to this day - who really shot JR?)

Television did not reflect our real lives, or even people we could meet in our real lives - it was our mode of escape, our way of relaxing after a hard day in the Real World*, our way of believing that somehow, someway we could really be anything we wanted to be

(Not to be confused with the reality show The Real World, in which marginally talented young 20 somethings would drink, walk in on each other in the shower, and make-out with people that they were not even dating. Watching The Real World in high school, I really believed that that was what college would be like. It wasn't.)

You have taken our module for escape and turned it into a distorted mirror for us to look at ourselves through. The problem is that I think you may be sending this program out to other countries and a lot of what I am seeing lately makes our country look very uneducated and very trashy.

My family does not have cable. Or satellite. Aside from the fact that we have a highly impressionable 4-year-old that mimics everything (just like her mother once did), it was a bigger expense than we really needed in our lives. We are able to get all of your content with our Hulu, Netflix, antenna (hooking it up old school, yo!) and internet connections. Total out of pocket per month is $18 bucks, far cheaper than any cable or satellite deals I have seen lately - and NO commercials (which, I have to tell you is amazingly awesome).

I don't get to see a lot of reality programming, but should something pique my interest either through my news feed (is it sad that this phrase belongs to Facebook rather than the Associated Press?) or through a blog - I will check it out at least once to see what the fuss is all about. Last night, the Hubs and I decided to check out Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo due in large part for the shock and silliness that it evoked on Facebook the night before.

Maybe we are a little too far south to really appreciate the humor in showing this family on TV. I could try to tell you that I don't know anyone like that Momma, but that would be a lie. I could try to tell you that I was shocked at people washing their hair in the kitchen sink or couponing so much dad-gum toilet paper. I could tell you that I was amazed to see a 6 year old eating cheese balls for breakfast (but she woke up after 11 so it's not really morning, right?). I could tell you that I was amazed that that woman had daughters more than half her age, but that wouldn't be true.

The reality is, I see those families everyday. They live down the road from me or shop at the Wal-Mart or work at the gas station. Those people are the South. They take pride in being country, having accents, walking barefoot. They love having room to run and be loud. Some of them have pigs for pets (who am I kidding here? I somehow acquired 6 friggin' chickens). We like mud and swimming in sink holes, 4 wheelin' and fishin'. It's what we do.

I know that you edited this to make this family look as gross and crass as possible. I know that because time and time again you have proven to us that reality TV is no more reality than the scripted television of my youth.

And, I guess we, as a nation are good with that.

So roll your teams of producers and cameras right on out here to the semi-rural South of Tiny Town. I'll take you out to the karaoke bars, to the university campuses, to the state legislature (cause we got it all in our little mecca).

I'll take you down to the ghettos and the sinkholes. I will show you what "no-zoning" regulations really mean when you see million dollar homes next door to the cheapest, ugliest shack of a house you have ever seen. I will show you how you can magically and unintentionally acquire animals and pests.

I will show you where what's left of the Occupy movement camps next door to my office and where the homeless people that want off the grid camp. I will show you counties that have the highest per capita AIDS rate in the country and the highest per capita drug use in the country are (and they aren't even the SAME county, but they all neighbor my home).

Call me up reality producers, I am living one heck of a reality and I think it's time that we start looking in a less distorted mirror.

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