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The Real Deal

Reality TV is killing off braincells across the nation, but where has it come from and why are we a generation obsessed?

Written by . Published on October 25th 2011.

The Real Deal

WITH Halloween just around the corner, one of the scariest things gracing our televisions this month is not the annual showing of The Amityville Horror or the best episodes of Most Haunted, but a more horrific concept that seems to force the public into a trance, hypnotising the innocent and slipping subliminal messages into our everyday conversations. Scared? You should be. Reality shows seem to adapt and change to stay somewhat relevant, whether it be the fascination of an experiment involving severely eccentric individuals and their lives within four walls for a certain amount of time, or the happiness we get from other people’s mistakes when they sing out of key, the horror that is reality TV does not seem to want to budge.

However unhealthy it sounds, programmes like The Only Way Is Essex, which leave little to the imagination, have become a phenomenon.

We cannot escape it; reality TV has created zombies who seem to stop their own existence in order to watch others, braking away from their own reality to watch other peoples. Let’s take one of the more recent Channel 4 banal efforts with Made In Chelsea. The show allows us mere mortals into the ridiculously staged lives of the privileged, unbelievably dim, silver spooned socialites. Where is the likeability in that? “It shows how the other half lives!” says Fiona from Sheffield. Yet the scripted day to day lives of these young wannabes seems to be so laughable as it’s not how they actually live, we as a public seem to stay gripped, with many (who will stay unnamed) seeming to have more knowledge of the recent episode of Made In Chelsea, than knowledge of the recent ghoulish scenes in Libya. We are a nation of reality addicts; we willingly give into the takeover of our reality by a group of embarrassing bores. “I didn’t think reality shows could get worse,” says Pamela from Colchester, “What’s worse than reality? Fake reality.”


But however difficult it is to see, there must be a lighter side to watching unknowns awkwardly pretending to like or even hate one another, in order to be famous for five minutes. Is it the fact the public like tuning in to see the same familiar faces every week? However unhealthy that sounds, programmes like The Only Way Is Essex, which leave little to the imagination, have become a phenomenon. They are tabloid sensations and it is amazing how much of the public seem to love these characters, “I have no idea why I like them, I just find them entertaining.” laughs Samantha from Bristol. It is clear that a large part of the public seem to like the predictable scripted nonsense and aren’t afraid to admit it.  

Marriage material?Marriage material?

After glancing through the ever growing back catalogue of reality shows that have aired in the last ten years or so, my initial thought that reality shows were in demise was in fact completely wrong, and more than just an understatement. Reality TV was seriously scraping the barrel of being called entertainment even a few years ago. There was a reality show in which a dwarf attempted to find love with one of a team of six-foot models; there was another featuring a secret transvestite named Miriam; one sought to do the impossible and find Jodie Marsh a husband (unsurprisingly she has yet to find one) and another documented Z-list celebrities trying to become London cabbies. I could go on, but I fear this list may make current reality shows look ever so slightly interesting. 

The Littlest Groom: good things come in small packages?The Littlest Groom: good things come in small packages?

Perhaps we are not a nation that has been brainwashed, but a nation that likes to laugh at other people’s expenses; lives that are seemingly worse than our own, hence the term, ‘car crash TV’. Perhaps it is seen as somewhat of a relief from the mendacities of everyday life, yet surely everyone can see that reality TV is precisely that, mundane. Like the band N-Dubz, it could all be a conspiracy, how else would the majority of the public like shows such as Geordie Shore? Or perhaps it is the warm inviting colours of the opening titles and the bright fake tans on our screen that invite us in on a warm October’s evening. Whatever the reason, reality TV won’t leave our screens, however insane the concept (just see below).

Playing It StraightPlaying It Straight (or trying to)

Top Five Worst Reality TV Shows (we couldn’t even believe half of these aired):

Totally Jodie Marsh
Tabloid favourite and a mother’s pin up for not having plastic surgery, Jodie Marsh hit rock bottom when announcing that she was looking for a husband, through the willing MTV. Incredibly tacky and an obvious disaster. Subsequently working out badly for Miss Marsh in more ways than one.

Playing It Straight
Another shockingly awful premise. Who even thought of this, actually who even commissioned it? The show had a woman, who spent a certain amount of time with a group of guys, eliminating one off each time in order to discover which was the straight man.. Yes that’s right, the other guys had to ‘play it straight’ and try and trick her into believing that they were not gay. Hosted by June Sarpong, need I say more.

There’s Something About Miriam
Probably one of the most ridiculous, this show involved a group of unlucky men, all after the prize of beautiful model, Miriam. Little did the guys know that Miriam used to be a man. Revealed to the winner on the final episode after he had fallen in love with her. This is cruel TV at its worst, and completely unpleasant to watch.

There Is Something About Miriam: someone had a shock in the bedroomThere Is Something About Miriam: someone had a shock in the bedroom

The Littlest Groom
America gave us the four foot five man, Glen Foster, who tries to discover the perfect woman for him. After a few days of spending time with the women, Glen chose Zoe. Dull.

Who’s your Daddy?
Quite possibly, the worst of the worst. The reality show invites us to watch the bizarre idea that a woman was adopted was asked to pick out of a line of men who she thought her real father was. Ridiculous, we know, If she got it correct she would win $100,000. It was unsurprisingly cancelled after one episode.

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