Oh brother, enough is enough

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - TIM MARTAIN

THERE’S no point com­plain­ing about some­one’s bad be­hav­iour when your ev­ery ac­tion ef­fec­tively en­cour­ages it.

Don’t com­plain about your puppy poo­ing on the rug if you cud­dle him ev­ery time he does it, don’t com­plain about peo­ple who treat you like dirt when you shrug it off and ac­cept it ev­ery time.

And it’s hard to com­plain about the flood of bor­ing, repet­i­tive, cheap, shal­low re­al­ity tele­vi­sion shows pol­lut­ing the air­waves right now when ev­ery­one seems to be watch­ing them.

Re­al­ity TV ex­pe­ri­enced a ma­jor boom in the early 2000s when TV pro­duc­ers dis­cov­ered what a cheap for­mat it was to make: script- writ­ing was min­i­mal, cast­ing was prac­ti­cally a vol­un­teer process, shows could be filmed with a tiny crew, and the only real ex­pense was post- pro­duc­tion.

But at some stage the cart started lead­ing the horse.

In­stead of re­al­ity shows like Big Brother ( pic­tured) be­ing about or­di­nary peo­ple in ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions, they evolved into celebrity- mak­ing ex­er­cises.

The big­gest blight on our screens at the mo­ment is the ubiq­ui­tous tal­ent show. As soon as one ends, an­other be­gins, they over­lap and com­pete on dif­fer­ent net­works and, hon­estly, I can barely tell any of them apart any more.

X Fac­tor, Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent, The Voice, then there’s the US and British ver­sions that fill in any gaps in be­tween.

That’s to say noth­ing of the seem­ingly per­pet­ual cy­cling of MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules.

We’re con­stantly be­ing ca­joled into car­ing about what­ever crowd favourite or lo­cal en­trant seems to be do­ing well in what­ever over- pro­duced spec­ta­cle is be­ing pushed hard­est by its net­work each week, while each net­work’s break­fast shows and cur­rent af­fairs shows wage their own cross- pro­mo­tional wars across other times­lots.

Then as soon as the hys­te­ria peaks, the win­ner is an­nounced and their con­trac­tu­ally ob­li­gated recipe book/ al­bum/ sex tape is re­leased, the au­di­ence for­gets about them and moves on to the next big thing. Wash, rinse, re­peat. FreeTV Aus­tralia re­cently re­leased its list of the top 50 pro­grams for the year so far and 23 were re­al­ity shows.

In fact, of the top 10, seven are re­al­ity shows, the re­main­ing slots were oc­cu­pied by the three State of Ori­gin matches in third, fourth and fifth place.

The num­ber one rat­ing show for the year so far was The Voice grand fi­nal win­ner an­nounce­ment, pulling in a na­tional au­di­ence of nearly 4.4 mil­lion. Sup­ply and de­mand, right? But hope­fully this spate of re­al­ity shows is also due in some part to the de­creased wait­ing times be­tween the US pre­mieres of big TV se­ries and their Aus­tralian pre­mieres.

With so much new pro­gram­ming kick­ing off this month and con­tin­u­ing into the sum­mer pe­riod, hope­fully the re­al­ity TV plague eases, at least un­til next win­ter.

I’m just thank­ing my lucky stars there isn’t a Tas­ma­nian com­peti­tor in the Big Brother house this year.

I’ll en­joy the eu­pho­ria while it lasts, next year we might not be so lucky.

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