A few months back, I wrote a post I never published about how I think the term “reality show” is thrown around a little bit too liberally. Most of the shows we watch that are dubbed as such are really just game shows. Amazing Race? Game show. Survivor? Same thing. Real World’s a reality sow. So is anything Dr. Drew does. Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post, but it is related. This whole trend of voting people off of shows and sending them home has been bothersome to me since Survivor hit so many years back and Road Rules felt the need to adopt a similar concept.
I understand that you need to get rid of people in competitions for money and even for dating shows, but any shows that purport to help people grow or learn should keep people around for long enough to “fix” them (yeah, I know that the odds of someone getting real help on a reality show probably isn’t the best, and also that these competitions also usually involve some kind of financial prize. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be removed from such shows, but I don’t think it should necessarily be a requirement. If Ray J likes all the girls on his show equally, let him keep them all. If all of the Next Iron Chefs really kill it, keep them around and see how they do next time. People will screw up. Sometimes several at a time. Just watch any Real World/Road Rules Challenge for the proof (the last episode of The Ruins saw four people head home, two who broke the rules, two who lost challenges).
So, I was happy to see three different reality shows that recently launched, all with the mission statement of helping people out in various ways, which are not falling prey to the same old boring format that every other reality show seems to subscribe to. First up, Bravo’s Chef Academy. The whole idea of this show is for people to learn how to cook with this big time chef. They’re not necessarily trying to be big time chefs, just to learn how to cook. Each week they’re given a lesson and a test on that lesson and they either pass or fail. If you fail three times, you’re out of the school. This format feels a lot more organic than the same-old, tacked on one you’re used to whether you watch cooking competition shows or not. Plus, I like the main chef guy, he’s fun and dude LOVES Columbo.
I also checked out a VH1 show called Tough Love. It’s the show’s second season and features a matchmaker taking a bunch of lonely women in and teaching them how to find a man. I’m sure the actual show synopsis is more concise and less offensive, but you get the idea. Anyway, since the point is to teach these women how to break out of their shells and learn how to attract the opposite sex, it would seem counter-intuitive to dump them once a week throughout the season. So far, they haven’t said anything about eliminations and I didn’t watch the previous season, so I’m not sure what the deal is. I could see him kicking out some of these broads who are clearly stuck in their ways and not listening to his advice (ladies, calling yourself by an alias and forgetting your dates name are surprisingly not-good when dating).
The third and most obvious non-elimination show is Dr. Drew’s Sex Rehab on VH1. As you might expect, this shows features several people who may or may not be celebrities who are dealing with sexual addictions. While in the program, they must abstain while also going through the therapeutic process. But, if they don’t, it’s not like they’re going to get kicked out, even though I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to punch a few of them in the face.
So, I’m hoping that this branching-off from the formula that’s been brainlessly pounded into every reality/game show of the past 10 years. People give the genre a lot of crap and a lot of it is deserved, but hopefully we’ll see some imagination put into this things that doesn’t involve making people eat strange things.