And why we need it.
I am a theatre nerd. Look at the way I spelled theatre. I refuse to spell it differently, because you see, I am a theatre nerd galore. I was recently having a discussion about reality television shows and why I am so passionately against them. I understand reality TV, and why it exists. It is cheap and easy to make and you don't need writers and it sells. It sells lots. It is more than the current trend, it is the current mindset, and people are demanding more and more and we will get exponentially more than we are demanding because when consumers start asking for a cheap, easy to produce product adamantly, we will get it in spades. Now don't mistake this for me hating on reality television. I am not making a judgment statement on reality TV or those who enjoy it. It is a valid source of entertainment that some people enjoy and get to experience vicarious emotions and relational experiences through. It is a form of entertainment that serves a purpose.
The problem that I have is that reality television takes away money and time from dramatic, comedic, or romantic programming that I might be able to experience if it were being produced and marketed. I believe that we need to have these shows and movies in order to live the experiences that we don't have as a culture anymore. We get to live experiences that we would never have the chance to live. I will never get to slay a dragon, or marry a princess, or defeat evil aliens, or say goodbye to my estranged father after twenty years of him not being in my life. I get to magically have these emotions through the lives of characters that I relate to because of the writing, and directing, and acting, and music, and imagination. We can live lifetimes and loves and victories and sadness and defeats that we might never be able to bear or handle in our own lives. And more than life them, we really get to feel these emotions and life them in reality. Our brains and hearts get to have these emotions and it is a release, a freedom. Because we are free to feel, and experience truly, and live these lives and moments without being broken. Because on our own we would be broken. But we have the safety of these things being just a single layer separated from us. We are not in the experience after we turn it off. We only have it for as long as we need to feel, to triumph, to be broken, and furious, or lonely. We can be in love for just as long as we need to.
I don't blame reality television for destroying chances to have these experiences, but I hate the fact that every reality show produced takes time and resources from these type of experiences being created. I do not miss the fact that we get some of this in reality TV, but lessened cheaper, and more banal. The experiences that we get through theatrical production, when done well, are heightened and elevated and saturated and produced and beautiful and thought out and above this life and let us elevate our emotion and experience.
I don't want to discount what is a bit of a golden age of television that we are going through lately. Because with shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead (Thanks AMC for making amazing television!) Weeds, Dr. Who, and Game of Thrones. And awesome comedies like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Office, Community and Big Bang Theory, there are some amazing shows out there that are in the limelight of popular television culture. But the emergence and popularity of reality TV is being more and more widespread. I don't find as much value in reality TV, and I wish it wasn't as prevalent.
TV can do some great things for us, much like movies and theatre. They can help us live fuller, more actualized lived lives. We need them. I challenge you to live in the feelings that you have the next time you are watching a television show that you are thoroughly enjoying. It is a vital part of living. Get out there and watch, it can help you live your life.