I watch a couple of reality shows. As a writer, I should be supporting shows that employ actual writers but I just can't help myself. They are my guilty pleasure. I have two favorites - Amazing Race and Survivor.
Both shows just ended a few weeks ago and I was thrilled when the team my husband and I were rooting for actually wonthe Amazing Race. "The hippies", two friends who were smart and kind to the nations, pulled out a victory because they actually remembered where they went during their 59,000 mile journey around the world. One of the things I love about this show is seeing cultures in a way that the travel guides just don't talk about much.
Survivor is a very interesting study in group dynamics. Perhaps it's my psychology background, or the fact that I'm a fiction writer, but I am fascinated by the way people interact with each other. The challenges are fun to watch, and since the people who were voted out are the ones that make the final decision on who gets the million dollars, it's often hard to predict what people will end up doing.
But while they are called "reality shows", they really aren't a great look into reality. These shows tape hundreds of hours of, probably, very boring footage, and whittle it down to the 45 minutes we see on TV each week.
And I wonder - what would we look like to the world if the same thing was done to us. Imagine an entire week of your life - 175 hours was taped. And then some editors went through all the footage. They throw out all those hours you sleep, they toss the time you spend brushing your teeth, etc. What would be left? What would be the most interesting things people would find out about you? And what would be the most embarrassing things? You see, reality shows like to highlight the conflicts in people's lives. So even though you might have only had three fights with your mom that week, if they were aired back to back it would look like you did nothing else but fight with your mom.
So tell me, if an editor looked at your tapes, what kinds of conflict would they find? What kinds of wonderful things might they catch you doing? And how would those tapes look different if you knew you were being watched?