Reality television may seem like a recent phenomenon but that statement is only accurate if you consider 40 years to be recent.
That’s right. The precursor to reality TV as we know it today is arguably the groundbreaking documentary “An American Family” that was filmed in 1971 and aired on PBS in 1973. It had all the makings of a hit TV show: lovely setting (Southern California), family drama (wife asks husband for a divorce), and great controversy (their son was openly gay). The Loud family was filmed for more than 300 hours and their footage was edited into 12 episodes.
And while reality TV really hit its stride in the 2000s, the same elements still exist in almost every reality show. There is usually a fabulous setting, like an extravagant house, always drama, and certainly controversy. People seem to eat it up whether it’s rooting for their favorite hometown singer in “American Idol,” or watching a trainwreck as bachelors and bachelorettes hope to find true love under the bright lights of television cameras.
With the popularity of all of these shows, it’s not unthinkable that reality TV shows might be created with mothers in mind. I’m sure most moms out there have tuned in to watch an episode of TLC’s “A Baby Story” while dabbing the tears away. And whether you were watching more TLC, reading the tabloids, swooning to “Dancing with the Stars,” or picking the hottest Halloween costume, you are sure to know most of the drama surrounding the famous multiples mom, Kate Gosselin.
Now, reality television is hitting the blogging world too. Project Mom Casting is a new venture that aims to find online moms that have a story that will translate well to the small screen. What kind of story? That’s the big mystery.
But the biggest question is: would you want to be a part of reality TV?
I won’t lie. I once had dreams of being a movie star. Did I say a really good actress? No. I said a movie star. I’m sure I could psychoanalyze my childhood to figure out why I felt the need for fame, fortune, and the requisite plastic surgery. I actually did love acting and stayed with it all the way through college. I actually minored in Theater. I can’t say it’s helped me much in life except to say that I do tend to be a bit theatrical and I always know my motive for any scene.
But reality TV is not acting. I mean, it’s not supposed to be acting. I actually watched quite a bit of reality TV when the genre came into fashion. I always loved game shows and so watching competitive shows like “Survivor,” “American Idol,” and even “The Bachelor” helped fulfill my voyeuristic tendencies.
However, we digressed. Big time. I watched “The Real World” for years. I don’t know if the show got more ridiculous or if I just got old enough to realize how stupid they all are on that show. I am proud to say I’ve NEVER been a fan of “Big Brother.” But I knew we truly hit rock bottom when I saw shows like “Joe Millionaire” and “For Love or Money.”
It became obvious to me that what we were seeing was FAR from reality. We saw media whores that wanted fame at any cost. We saw producers so desperate for ratings that reality was often staged and mostly cleverly edited.
So why would any of the intelligent, funny, passionate women in the blogging world want to be on a reality TV show (e.g. Project Mom)? Yes, I’m considering it. I don’t know if I have a compelling story. I know it takes drama to get ratings. I suppose I could discover my evil twin that was separated from me at birth who went on to marry a circus freak in Romania. Would I want the intrusion into my daily life? Would I want to risk the potential editing that could occur to make the story more “interesting” at the cost of my own personal integrity? Depends on how much they would pay me.
In all seriousness, I view reality TV today as a platform. It’s a platform for the viewing audience to see you, remember you, and hopefully fall in love with you so you can quit your day job and soak up your 15 minutes of fame. And if the end result is a couple of unflattering photos of myself being published? Well, that’s not a far cry from reality anyway.