March 23, 2011

Asking the Impossible

I very rarely watch TV shows when they are first broadcast. They make you sit through commercials, they come on at a set time that may not fit your schedule, and you have to remember to actually tune in. I haven't watched a show with any regularity since the cancellation of Arrested Development until this season of History's reality show Top Shot. I would be remiss to not mention that I regularly watch The Amazing Race with friends, but I don't think that counts because it's not something I would do on my own. This is all not to say that I don't watch shows that are currently in production. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Dexter are all great and I watch them as soon as they come out on DVD or Blu-ray.

The interesting thing about both Top Shot and The Amazing Race is that their formats don't require contestants to game each other because players aren't voted out. You could be the scum of the Earth and treat the other teams like crap, but as long as your team doesn't check in last you have a chance to win The Amazing Race. Top Shot is similar to this, but with a twist. The team that loses the team challenge then votes two team members to compete to see who is booted off the show. This creates a dynamic where being friendly or in an alliance is rewarded, but it isn't required. A team could vote for someone every time, as long as that person wins the elimination challenge they are still on the show and able to win. Skill is paramount.

My problem with both, and reality television in general, is that the producers are asking me to judge and root for people that I don't know beyond what happens to be filmed and edited together. In the real world you are a jerk to do that.

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