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Rethinking new reality television

January 26, 2013

What on earth has happened to television programming?

Sidelined by the icky weather since New Years and unable to focus on a good book due to a documented phenomenon known as Chemo Brain, I have been relying on what my Daddy calls the Idiot Box for entertainment.
I’ve decided his description is about right.

Old movies are my genre of choice on television, but occasionally the Three Stooges — too light — or Moby Dick — too dark — force me to channel surf. What I’ve found makes me want to go take a bath and wash my own mouth out with soap.   

When did reality TV take over the air waves and why hasn’t The Learning Channel (TLC) lost its license for dehumanizing the human race. Its moniker should be changed to the Trashy Lascivious Channel because it seems dedicated to depicting the raw side of life. It rolls out these shows loosely disguising them as “documentaries.”
Au contraire mon fraire.

Wasn’t the network organized by the government to provide educational programming? Instead of showing beautiful episodes of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly that you could watch with your children, it is bringing us in-your -face so-called reality with such titillating shows as “Here Comes Honey BooBoo”, “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, and “Extreme Cheapskates.” 

The latter appealed to my frugal nature at first but I was appalled to take a peak at an episode involving a woman who does her laundry while she’s showering, scrubbing it up in the dirty water left standing in the bottom of the stall. She has also lowered her water bill by relieving herself in a lemonade bottle and pouring the contents on her compost pile. Uh, Uh! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing much less than what I was watching.

Why can’t they bring us helpful episodes like how to toilet train your cat or tame a chipmunk. Or how to remove your own appendix at home…using pot holders, a turkey baster, and a pizza cutter. Now that would be worth watching. 

It’s not just TLC bringing us this non-stop warped reality, it’s on Bravo (also organized for educational programming), and The History Channel which apparently has developed a loose screw.  “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” isn't what I think of as history. It's kind of like labeling Cool Whip as a dairy product. 

The popular “Biography” series is now chronicling the lives of evil gangsters or women in death row in place of featuring great Americans and heroes down through the history of the world.   

Now, hold on. I know some of you love reality TV and feel it has its place in the line-up. 

Personally, I think this genre appeals to our inner Peeping Tom and I’ll be glad when the network moguls move on to some other means of shock and awe.   
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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