How is Reality TV like Genre Fiction?

I was scanning the blogs I have come to read semi-regularly, and one of them had a post about Reality Television.

Now, I don’t watch much reality TV. I don’t like the Survivor-type shows, or the Bachelor shows, or the ones where they try to screw up peoples’ lives. I have to admit that I am even enough of a prehistoric antediluvian (if those words don’t mean the same thing), that I don’t watch American Idol.

I do however like a good many of the “fix-up-your house/yard” shows, and will watch Dancing with the Stars with the fella. (He also likes Iron Chef–which I have to admit is sometimes fun.) Still, I’m just not a big reality TV fan. So when I read this post about how writers like Reality TV, I thought “pfffftthh–yeah, right.” I do see how other writers might like it, but frankly, I think Reality TV is far less real than the scripted stuff, because People just Don’t let out their real gut-deep stuff. We hang onto our secrets.

Anyway, one thing said hit me.

The plot takes the viewers on a journey, from the opening credits of the first episode to the closing credits of the finale. The number of episodes and even types of challenges might remain the same from season to season but, couple it with the characters, and the story becomes something a bit different each time.

And suddenly, I had a rebuttal for those who complain about how genre fiction always has such a predictable ending. (Although, it’s usually only romance that gets those kinds of complaints, sometimes one gets them for other sorts of genres.) Reading a romance or a mystery novel is about the Journey and the Characters, not the ending.

Admittedly, the folks who sneer at romance and other commercial fiction also usually sneer at Reality TV–but regular, scripted television shows are the same. Except in that case, you even have the same characters facing the same kinds of challenges. Characters discover a crime. Characters solve a crime. The end. Then again, those folks sneer at pretty much all television. I tell ya, it’s almost like you’re flat not supposed to enjoy anything at all.

These are the same people who get all shocked when you talk about reading something Just For Fun. Who think you must read Edifying Fiction (or strictly non-fiction).

Well, phooey on that. By the time you get out of school (and some of you are taking longer about that than others), life’s too short to spend time reading a book (or watching television) unless you Enjoy it. Don’t think you “ought” to read this or that. If you like it, then read it. If you don’t, then don’t–and don’t apologize to anybody for it.

No wonder there are so few readers left–when so many in the world are sucking all the FUN out of reading!

Okay, I will get off my soapbox now. I’m just frustrated today, I guess, by all the people who seem determined to suck the fun out of–reading, if not life…

No writing this week. I did get all my revisions in the computer for the Old Spirits partial. I printed out the first couple of chapters of New Blood to read at ApolloCon. Never did put that on my website, did I? Sorry.

I’m hoping I won’t have to go look after the parents before Sunday afternoon–Mom had surgery that was more extensive than we expected (still relatively minor), so… I’m pretty sure I’ll have to go up sometime, though, because I’m not sure just how competent Daddy is with the looking-after.

OH. And the boy wrecked his car. Nobody hurt. Something of a slow-mo crash–low speeds. The other person got a ticket, but his car isn’t drivable, and this is the third time it’s had front-end damage. (I don’t think we’re counting the tree that fell on it…) We may have to get a new car. But for right now, we’re dealing with being a 2 car family with 3 drivers. He dropped me off today, and will pick me up, but I’m leaving the island tomorrow, so he and his father will have to deal with car issues then.

3 Responses to How is Reality TV like Genre Fiction?

  1. Good luck at ApolloCon and with your mom, Gail. Sorry about the car snafu. It’s always something, isn’t it?

  2. First of all, I hear you on the reading for fun bit. I can still remember an incident in high school. I got to class a little early, so I pulled out a book to read (in fact, I think it was an Anne McCaffrey Pern novel). On of the guys in my class came in, gave me a look, and asked which class I was reading it for. The look of incomprehension on his face when I said it wasn’t for class, it was just for fun, was priceless (and a little dismaying).

    As for reality tv, I love it. The dancing shows, like So You Think You Can Dance right now (but not the singing competitions, since I have low tolerance for amateur singers). The job shows (America’s Next Top Model, Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, Shear Genius, Project Runway). The general competitions (Survivor, Amazing Race).

    The only ones I avoid, really, are the dating shows and ones that involve humiliation.

    Anyway, they are the junk food for my brain. Just like reading something light and fluffy. Sometimes I want something much more serious, but fluff is also good. Especially at the end of a long, exhausting day when you can’t concentrate on a plotline.

  3. I do understand how so many people enjoy the reality shows. I started catching the Black Gold oil rig shows and have really enjoyed them. It does crack me up though, when they put subtitles up for the guys with the Deep East Texas accents. :)

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