Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Changed My Mind...Kinda

I've never liked reality TV. I've watched bits and pieces here and there of shows like Survivor and American Idol and The Bachelor and even Fear Factor, when my husband had it on. I never liked any of them. I was disgusted by previews of such shows as Wife Swap and Temptation Island. So when NBC announced that they were going to drastically reduce scripted shows in the 8:00 hour and fill their schedule with reality, I wasn't very happy.

Unfortunately, the 8:00 "family hour" is pretty much gone. I mentioned The Cosby Show a few posts ago. Good, wholesome family TV. I suppose there's a lot of that on cable now. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon maybe fill the bill. But it's not the same when those shows are on all day long. There's no "event." Nothing to look forward to the way I can't wait for Supernatural on Thursday night.

But my kids feel that way about one show that's on network TV: Dancing with the Stars. I admit, I've got no problems with this show (though the costumes could be a little less skimpy sometimes). Celebrities are turned into real people. They have to be humble, because they're doing something they've never done before, and learning it at a competitive level. This isn't like a couple taking lessons so they can waltz at their wedding. The judges are tough, and have very high expectations. It's all about hard work and taking constructive criticism, good lessons for my kids to witness.

Competition is good for them to see, too. Nowadays they don't learn it so much. Sports are about having fun, and comparison between students is avoided at all costs in the classroom. But they won't always be able to avoid it, and watching GOOD competition is excellent. When I say "good" I mean the kind where contestants say things like "Don't get me wrong, I really want to win this thing, but it's been so rewarding, just coming out here and pushing myself to do something I never thought I could do," as opposed to the kind where people yell things like, "That bitch ain't gettin' MY money!" and lie and cheat and steal to win.

In fact, respect is a highlight of this show. Everyone displays respect for the other dancers, and there's a camaraderie that shows that competition doesn't have to preclude friendship.

I realized, when thinking about this, that the shows that have really meant something to my kids and to us as a family as "event TV" have always been reality shows. In the Fix was daily viewing for a while, with a funny, "incompetent" host and funny, skilled workers who turned rooms into amazing places to live. Now it's Dirty Jobs, with another funny, incompetent host and a pretty educational premise. My kids are fascinated by some of the jobs out there, jobs we never knew existed but have an appreciation for (mainly, that someone else does them).

Then there's the original reality show. Known to my kids as "AFV," America's Funniest Home Videos has been on since MY childhood, and the content is as funny and appropriate as ever. With REAL people who aren't being paid to be on TV, either.

So okay. Maybe Reality TV is okay sometimes.


Karmela said...

FUnny you should mention DWTS. I'm not so into it but over the summer, my family and I really, really got into "So You Think You Can Dance." They're too young to appreciate the judges' comments, but it was such a great thing for my little boy to be exposed to other men dancing. Something that average American men, for mysterious reasons, have decided that they are not good enough to do. When did this happen, btw? American men killed in the dancing arena up until the 70s. Then, the 80s hit, and then nothing. Maybe "Flashdance" killed American male dancing.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I read some of your blog posts on SYTYCD, Karm. You made it sound really exciting!

I'm not sure what happened. Seseme Street, for example, had boys dancing. Savion Glover now choreographs for Broadway. And of course there are plenty of male dancers in music videos, iPod and cell phone commercials, and on stage. I don't know where they're coming from, though--it's not from my kids' dance studio! LOL

I wonder if it's more that male dancing died because good dancing in general died. School dances in the 80s were just a lot of bouncing and swinging, and it doesn't seem to have gotten that much better. We did have breakdancing, though...