I have watched with amusement the news surrounding Storage Wars star David Hester’s $750,000 lawsuit against A&E claiming the show was fake. It’s hard for me to believe he has any sort of a case. I’m sure he signed his life and rights away in his participant contract, and I feel even more sure that within that contract there is some sort of clause that mentions the producers may “enhance” the story line with editing or planted situations.
It’s a game we’re all playing. Producers control it in the edit bay, viewers control it with the remote.
Here is what is real about reality tv:
- They are actual humans.
- They (sometimes) have talent and dreams, and just being seen on Top Chef or Project Runway can change their whole life and career.
- Maybe they do have their own business (Duck Dynasty) or their own family (Sister Wives).
Here is what is easily manipulated:
- The casting is no accident. They’re looking for people who will rock the boat, or who will weep and wail when the boat gets rocked.
- The location. Ever notice that every single season of Real Housewives includes some sort of a trip far away? And that’s it’s always the most drama-filled, three-episode arc of the season? That’s the Survivor effect. Get them out of their element, with tensions already in place, give them some wine, reality gold.
- Editing. Unless it’s a long-winded rant where the camera doesn’t move, assume there has been some changes to a scene to paint a picture. Every single moment is fair game. You roll your eyes at a legitimate dig? You gotta be okay with that snarky look showing up at a totally different place in the conversation.
- Everything. The contestants emotions. The viewers emotions. The press. We’re living in the current culture of “Everything celebrity is fair game,” as wrong as that is for everyone involved.
The Gorilla has been into Amish Mafia on Discovery Channel this year. I can’t watch more than five minutes because it reads so fake to me. Almost anything that includes “dramatic re-enactments” will make my eyes glaze over. He also loves The Biggest Loser, which to me just feels like a two-hour commercial of people crying.
Then again, he can’t understand why I root for a fairly hum-drum polygamist family, or why I’m obsessed with Sarah Richardson even though we don’t share the same style.
It’s all just entertainment. Is Honey Boo Boo more low brow than The Kardashians? Does American Pickers have more value than Dance Moms? Maybe. Probably.
But you’re reading a carefully edited blog and your righteous neighbor spews her every indignant thought on facebook. So reality is relative. Always.
Want to see me get really huffy about "reality?" Several years ago I felt passionately about the coverage of Jon & Kate Gosselin's divorce announcement.