The business of reality shows

Been thinking about the ‘reality show’ mania that is driving the India television scene currently. Not Indian only but worldwide. Not thinking as much but really appalled at the blind faith participants put in believing the ‘do-good’ side of a reality show that will make their life once and for all; that they provide a platform to showcase their ‘hidden’ talents (pile of shittake); at least that is what the TV shows and campaigns want everyone to believe. And the audience believing them to be real. I can vouch for sure if there is an editor given a live feed of my daily life he can at-least build a show that will have at-least 15 minutes worth of juicy entertainment in it. Or as Warhol said everyone is going to be famous for 15 minutes and for everyone the reality show is the portal to that dream.

TV shows are in the business of higher TRP ratings

I still find that people believe that the shows are a platform for showcase the hidden talents. Or as I would say What a pile of shittake. For what it’s worth, it is important to remember that TV shows are (in) a business business of TRP ratings a.k.a Entertainment. Repeat this mantra until you can understand what it means. It simply means that they will only choose to run a show if it has a higher potential for entertainment of the audiences – fair, square and simple for you. A show will choose a far lesser talented candidate if it can ‘milk‘ more entertainment from him as against a mightily talented one if he has zero ‘drama’ skills. It is as simple as that. The more the entertainment quotient in the candidates the higher chances of them getting a position in the show. I am hard-pressed to think of one talent show in India right now that is not a reality show, that does not project the emotions of the participants as one of the major points of its show.

And who are we judging really? Just a couple of years ago, we had every TV channel in India vying for a piece of the prime-time audience of mythological serials. Like the Hollywood movies where possible specimen in the biological chain has had a monster movie made out of it, we had mythological serials on every deity imaginable. Damn! at one time there were atleast 4 TV serials on Hanuman running on 4 different channels. And just recently we had everyone had gone scurrying building Celebrity-hosted quiz shows (Anupam Kher’s Sawaal Dus Crore Ka or that Neena Gupta’s Kamzor Kadi Koun or that Shekhar Kapoor’s quiz thing). Or how about remembering that times when every channel had a saas-bahu serial at prime time, which still goes on unabatedly? I am not even surprised at the predisposition of the channels to creating more and more reality shows – its chaotic, unscripted and as anyone who has been in the media business long enough will tell you, chaos is great entertainment. As for pathos, that’s the baap of all entertainment.

Pre-judged, pre-selected candidates (Of course do your math. Can 3 judges effectively select 2-3 candidates from 3K probables in a matter of 1-2 12 hr workdays considering they put in 3-5 minutes for each?) putting themselves bare naked of the editors to select, cut, edit and choose only the bestest, juiciest sound bytes for the whole nation to watch and to get entertained. Every possible type of moral story makes its way into the reality show. The hunk who gets thrown out in the early rounds(Well, woman/girls may fall for him in real life, but on TV, naaah), the budding romance between two averagely talented participants, the hardworking guy-next-door sweet looks kid who is going to be the superstart – the culmination of a dream of a average guy.

Or to quote Mike Wallace from the movie The Insider No that’s fame. Fame has a fifteen minute half-life, infamy lasts a little longer.” I think the sooner the participants understand that, the better off everyone is. Of course, as audience for what its all worth, it’s entertainment unplugged.

P.S: I strongly suggest reading Ben Elton’s books especially Chart throb, Dead Famous and Popcorn.


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