Reality TV can be real predictable

It’s a no-brainer that T.V. has changed over the years, and even so since I was younger. My favorites have always been the comedies like “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and more recently, “The Office.”

            It seems that these laugh-out-loud shows have been taken over by a new breed in recent years. By now, I’m sure we are all familiar with reality T.V. shows. After all, they seem to have taken over primetime T.V.

            I remember getting my first taste of reality T.V. on American Idol when it began when I was just in middle school. Since then, there have been countless others. I question the actual reality of them, yet sometimes I find myself fascinated and on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. And that is exactly what the producers want!

            The most common trend I’ve noticed in a lot of these reality T.V. shows are the three-judge panel critiquing someone doing something. It seems that “American Idol” started the trend, and everyone is trying to follow in their footsteps to get some of the money and success.

            We have “America’s Got Talent,” where three judges watch people performing various acts to show off their talent. If the judges like what they see, the contestants move onto the next round, and if not, they get buzzed offstage.

            Then there’s “Last Comic Standing” where comedians perform, and again, are critiqued by three judges. America votes and contestants are sent home every week.

            Don’t forget “Dancing with the Stars,” where contestants perform dance routines in front of, you guessed it, three judges.

            The most recent one of these reality T.V. three-judge shows is “Master Chef,” featuring British chef and T.V. personality Gordon Ramsay. This so called “foul-mouthed cook” can be seen on “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” where chefs compete to be head chef at one of Ramsay’s restaurants. That show is currently in its seventh season.

            Master Chef, however, could be compared to American Idol. Instead of the contestants singing, however, each contestant appears in front of three judges with a dish they’ve prepared in hopes of moving on to the next round. They have to have passion and the dish has to be delicious. “Master Chef” premiered last week.

            All of these shows seem to have so much in common: Three judges (one of whom is usually mean), heartwarming stories about how contestants made it to the show to achieve their dream, and plenty of commercials intended to keep the viewer on the edge of our seat. (Did he make it to the next round or not? I have to know!)

            The thing is, as much as I have enjoyed Ramsay’s tirades and the countless other things we have seen on reality shows, I fear that they are becoming too predictable. I guessed correctly multiple times on last week’s “Master Chef” premier that the guy who had worked so hard to get to the show for his wife and child, who cried and told a heartwarming story about cooking being his passion would move onto to the next stage of the competition, and that the girl who made fish and mango tacos would be sent home.

            The point is, even though this is supposed to be reality, we may be running out of options to keep viewers watching. I may have been fooled with the dramatic commercial breaks again and again, but only so much time can go by before viewers can predict what happens and switch the channel. And how many more things can people do in front of three judges? We have singing, dancing, various other talents, comedy, and now cooking.

            These shows can entertain and try the same ploys to get viewers watching, staying on the air as long as their network allows. It’s not that there’s nothing there to enjoy, it’s just that it might run its course sooner than we think.

            I will have reruns of “Raymond,” and my “Office” and “3rd Rock” DVD’s when that happens.


  1. Megan, you touched on predictability in reality shows, and only the ones firmly entrenched like “Survivor” can get away with the same stunts year after year. I think what that’s led to is the reality show going farther out on the taste-and-quality limb to grab the viewers’ attention. And that’s unfortunate. There are also now semi-scripted “reality” shows, such as “Operation Repo” and “Southern Fried Stings”, shows which feature a cast of characters and mostly improvised scenes.
    Mrs. Ford also considered “Master Chef” so transparent that the shows lost her in the first 15 minutes.
    Hey, at least “The Office” pretends to be nothing other than what it is: a scripted reality show. Perhaps respecting its audience in that fashion is what really first attracted people to the show.
    PS: Ever see the original, UK version of “The Office”? If so, what do you think?

  2. Thanks for reading Mr. Ford. From everything I’ve heard about Mrs. Ford, she seems to have great taste in TV. We watch/watched a lot of the same shows like Snapped, Hell’s Kitchen, and Top Model.

    I like the office because I feel like it’s both unique and hilarious, and all the characters are so funny in their own ways. I have never seen the British version, but I think it would be interesting to watch it sometime.

  3. haha, foul-mouthed cook Gordon Ramsay. 🙂

    Fantastic title for a great article. You make a really good point. Shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” are entertaining exactly because of how ridiculous and melodramatic they tend to be, but I’m sure one day the novelty of that will wear off.

    That’s why I will always hold “Lost” close to my heart. In my opinion, that show was about as far from predictable as you can get. 🙂

  4. Yep, you’ve nailed the whole 3-judge thing (including the token “mean person”) squarely on the head. The odd thing about Master Chef is, you go in THINKING Gordon Ramsay is going to be the so-called bad guy, but nope…it’s Joe Bastianich instead. Surprise!

    BTW, The Office rocks. Even the British version.

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