My Love/Hate Relationship with Reality TV by Emily Smart

Pretend TV versus Reality TV

Last Tuesday I was watching the end of season finale of ‘The Mentalist’. It’s a terrible, terrible, formulaic one-dimensional whodunit programme in the style of ‘Murder She Wrote’, but without aging author Jessica Fletcher solving crimes. Talking of JB Fletcher, isn’t it rather worrying that her home town of Cabot Cove has a population of about 300 people, most of whom have been mysteriously bumped off over the 12 year period the show ran? I’m only mentioning it in case you’re thinking of inviting the old girl for Christmas dinner. Anyway, the protagonist in ‘The Mentalist’ is the very pretty Patrick Jane. His ‘talent’ is his ability to manipulate witnesses and criminal behaviour via psychic tricks of the trade and hypnosis to find out, well, whodunit. It’s shockingly shite, but mindless, easy viewing and a bit of nonsense on a school night. As I waved goodbye for another season to Patrick and the CBI gang, I went to prepare for slumber, and didn’t get to bed for another hour. Why? Well I can only blame it on the dwarves. Seven of them actually.

Real or Fake? Seven Dwarves Living Together without Snow White

‘Seven Dwarves’ is a reality TV programme about, well seven dwarves who all play dwarves in panto in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and who share a house for the panto season. It truly is gripping viewing. I sat watching most of the magnificent seven getting absolutely plastered on national TV, dancing badly in crappy nightclubs, hiding a trifle (don’t ask) and playing bingo – ‘Ryan has never been in panto before and neither has he played bingo’ – the narrator actually said that in a serious narrator’s voice. Have I missed something? I can only equate this to the Victorian style freak show. What next I wonder, ‘A Day in the Life of the Bearded Lady’ or maybe ‘Bob, the Real Elephant Man.’ The worst thing about it all is I couldn’t stop watching. And laughing. Fair play to the makers, they have actually got a great mix of ‘dwarves’; there’s tranny dwarf, hard nut dwarf, cheeky chappy dwarf, alcoholic dwarf. My favourite is young lad dwarf who is paid to dress up as an oompa loompa on stag nights. He is handcuffed to the stag all night, complete with green wig and orange face and it’s his job to get pissed with the groom as they go from pub to pub. He told us that he has to be uncuffed and go home when he can’t walk any longer. Brilliant, I wonder if at 5ft 1 inch I could make a living doing that?!

I Don’t Need to Look at your Bits when I’m Eating!

Given the proliferation of reality shows from ‘X Factor’ to ‘Big Brother’, from TOWIE (‘The Only Way is Essex’) to MiC (‘Made in Chelsea’), it’s a wonder that we haven’t all had our 15 minutes of fame on the box. It’s getting ridiculous given the sheer quantity of reality programmes that are available to view and frankly I am getting a bit fed up with the people I invite into my lounge every night via the TV. No stone is left unturned in the TV programme makers desire to shock, and reel in a large audience, whether it’s unusual medical conditions like primordial dwarfism or children with serious behavioural problems. Over-sexed people, under-sexed people, transvestites, hermaphrodites, blokes that wear nappies and are bottle-fed, dominatrices, the list goes on. Why do we find it so engrossing? And more to the point, why am I always eating dinner when I change channels and see oozing pustulous gargantuan boils on people’s private parts on ‘Embarrassing Bodies’? Who would actually want to be featured on that programme? ‘Hello doctor, I’ve got the most embarrassing medical issue ever which can only be cured if I can show you, a film crew and a TV audience of 20 million people. Shall I drop my trolleys now?’ Can you imagine standing at the photocopier at work the next day after showing your fine china to the world? Awkward.

I’m getting hysterical now. It’s time to let it go. Walk away. Move on. Or remove the television. But then I’d miss Patrick and his supercilious smile, his know-it-all attitude and his smugness that sometimes makes me want to punch him in the face. Now there’s a thought: ‘Killing the Mentalist – one woman’s journey to hunt down Patrick Jane.’ Gotta be a ratings winner!

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