There's Reality, and Then There's Junk Reality

It’s time to ramp up the standards and stop promoting coarse social conduct.

The harebrained stunt Richard Heene pulled off on TV was the best reality show I’ve seen so far. A good number of non-unionized reality TV script writers would have loved to come up with the flying saucer-with-boy-trapped-in-it plot. Or did they?

Don’t get me wrong here. I, like the rest of the nation, was mortified about little Falcon’s safety, but in the aftermath of the official hoax it left a spotlight shinning directly on the obscure and dark side of reality TV. The tendency these low-quality programs have to attract nuts that would normally be cooped up in half-built homes is getting out of hand.

We don’t have to look too far to find examples of reality TV gone wrong: The Gosselin marriage disintegrated right before our eyes, and now the Heene family will likely be subjected to traumatizing consequences (especially the children) resulting from their foolish antics – all in the name of instant reality TV fame.

Is anyone responsible for the demise of these families other than themselves? I have a light suspicion that it’s a combination of shared culpability that cable TV, producers and we, the viewers, must acknowledge for fueling our latest small screen obsession with reality television.

Reality shows are at their best the equivalent of disposable television, and by their very nature create throw-away characters. Much like our country’s obsession with junk food, these mindless and superficial programs are only time-fillers and leave us little mental nutritional value. Granted, it’s impossible to continually pay for and produce quality programming, and a little senseless TV is occasionally a welcomed respite from the reality around us, but I‘m not lovin’ it.

Sure, there are successful reality shows like "Survivor," "The Amazing Race" or "Biggest Loser." which continue to provide viewers a healthy dose of physical and mental competition as well as the ‘common folk’ aspect we like to watch and relate to without much post-show fall out. Even shows mocking actual life situations like "The Office," "Parks and Recreation" and "Community" are preferable TV fare over the bizarre activities revealed in reality shows.

Unfortunately, there is a long list (and growing) of junk reality shows promoting the lowest standard of human behavior imaginable that could be putting our younger generation at peril from networks endorsing this sordid social conduct, and validating it for the millions who watch these brainless shows.

Post-Heene reality TV: It’s time to ramp up the standards and stop promoting coarse social conduct with shows elevating: “millionaires,” wife, husband, family or kids “swaps,” islands, little people, jungles, teens coming of age, voluptuous neighbors, communal living or anything to do with exceptions rather than the norm to socially acceptable behavior.

Kardashians, I am talking to you, too.

I don’t think anyone wants to go through an emotional roller coaster of any kind again because of a fame-seeking reality character — especially one exploiting children. We’ve already got 19 kids’ futures wrapped up in skewed reality TV between the Octomom, Gosselin and now the Heene children.

So TLC, ABC, MTV, Ryan Seacreast, etc, please get your acts together for all of our sake.