The Predicability of Reality TV
In an article from Advertising Age about pursuing cross-media branding & product integration in Dancing with the Stars, I was struck by the following quotation:
One reason for the fascination with the reality game shows is that they tend to play out the same way, episode after episode. “Week in and week out, you know what a reality show is going to look like,” said Fred Dubin, managing partner-director of entertainment marketing and promotions at Mediaedge:cia, the WPP Group media-buying firm that works for both Macy’s and AT&T. “In a scripted show, while the characters are the same and there is the same basic storyline, when special episodes are going to run, that may change, and you don’t have that kind of volatility” in the reality genre.
Reality is predictable and formulaic while scripted programming is volatile and uncertain? Say what now? Sure, I get what he means – reality game shows have tightly constrained norms and formats, so expectations are managed & variables are controlled. But it seems like the whole selling point for reality TV was that these shows were by nature unpredictable – real people’s performances and actions don’t follow scripts and thus anything can happen. The parallel here is sports – yes, every football game will play out the same way week-after-week, with four quarters and regular events like scoring, turnovers, etc., but the exact combination & effect of these variables is unknown.
I’m just surprised to see such a quotation presented as self-evident without any challenge or questioning of the odd irony here. It seems like an acknowledgment that the “reality” in reality TV is ultimately less of a wildcard than a simple variable to be controlled & regularized by production routines. Whereas those writers, nobody knows what they’re going to do next!
Filed under: Genre, Television, TV Shows | 2 Comments
Tags: reality tv, television genre