For someone who considers his television a family member, such as myself, the summer season is a harsh, empty period of time. Fresh programming is at a minimum, leaving me to either rehash old broadcasts, scan the wasteland of hundreds of other channels offered by my cable company, or; god help me, just turn the ol' TV off. Lately, with the current trend of programming choices, I have been opting for the latter of the three, finding my entertainment in print form (crazy, I know). The primary factor contributing to this oustanding decision has been the broadcasters (and I suppose in turn, America's) infatuation with the 'reality' genre's subset of contest shows.
I cannot stand any of these shows. These are the ones where there is a panel of 'judges', be they celebrities, near-celebrities, ex-celebrities, 'experts' of their respective field, or just eye candy; observing some act or object, giving their two cents, and then turning it over to America and all their wisdom to choose a winner. I'm sure you are familiar with at least one of these shows: American Idol, Big Brother, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, America's Got Talent, Last Comic Standing, America's Best Dance Crew, Celebrity Circus ...etc. These shows are wildly popular, and for me, completely unbearable.
What makes me cringe at the thought of watching these televised messes are the fact that for every success or great performance seen, there are many more failures and catastrophes that go along side with it. I don't know if it is just something about my character, but I do not get any pleasure about seeing someone genuinely try and fail miserably, only to have it then critiqued, deconstructed and replayed again and again. My television is a medium of entertainment for me. It should make me happy, which usually, it succeeds easily in. Watching someone display his 'talent' and then get torn apart by 'judges' who seemingly know what the rest of us don't is not entertainment. It is watching someone else be miserable.
For most people, it is easy to see beyond this point. The show progresses and the losers are never heard from or seen again. Ultimately, a winner arises, and the show ends on a happy note. Everyone likes a happy ending. In the mean time, however, is a...