Column/Suffering from an overdose of reality

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 13, 2006

The latest offering in the slate of reality television shows focuses on an Alabama high school football team.

MTV’s “Two-a-days” followed last year’s season for the Hoover High Buccaneers.

The show just got renewed for another year.

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I’ve heard local residents say they think there should be a reality show featuring Selma city government.

Folks all across the country would be sitting with their mouths dropped open saying, “He did NOT just say that!”

I’m not a real fan of most reality television shows, but it’s getting pretty difficult to avoid them – short of just turning off the television altogether (which I realize isn’t such a bad idea).

First of all, how much of it is really real?

After 10 plus years of having this type of programming, how real can it be?

The folks on the show – contestants on most of the programs – have to know by now how to behave in order to manipulate the way they are perceived.

“Survivor” is one of the most popular of the reality shows. I’ll admit, I watched the first season and found it interesting. I haven’t really been enamored with it since.

With the challenges and immunity it’s more of a game show than a reality show.

If you really want to find out who a true “Survivor” is, take someone, give them two or three kids and a $7 an hour job and see how they do. The single mother who can manage on that is a true survivor.

Of course, no one wants to watch that. That’s way too real.

I’ll admit to being a fan of “The Amazing Race.” Each week, I get to go globe-trotting with the teams, seeing exotic places and learning a little about different cultures.

That’s at least interesting to watch.

We also have “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Skating with the Stars” and now the “Celebrity Duets” show.

And, then you have celebrity family shows with the Osbournes, Anna Nicole Smith, and now Gene Simmons of KISS, the Hogan family and the Carters (as in Nick and Aaron Carter).

What makes for an interesting reality show? “Dog, the Bounty Hunter” has an unusual slant. As does “Miami Ink,” which highlights tattoo artists.

One of the more interesting reality shows is “30 Days.”

Morgan Spurlock, who brought us the film, “SuperSize Me,” does this series, which puts someone in an unfamiliar setting for 30 days.

One episode had a homophobic man living in a gay community. Another focuses on a couple living in a commune. And in one episode, Spurlock himself tries to get by on minimum wage. After watching that you at least feel like you’ve seen the world from a different perspective.

My father was never much of a television watcher, but the shows he did like were either Westerns or comedies, like “Andy Griffith.”

I think he had the right idea. Keep it light, or completely unreal. Life in Selma is real enough without watching someone else’s dramas unfold.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.