In the hoopla over the new spate of “reality TV”, there’s been one issue that I’ve yet to see addressed…namely, what’s the point?
I base this on The Mole (not watching but reading about) and Temptation Island (watching). Let me begin with the latter. There are no prizes. No challenges. No tasks. Just a bunch of dates with attractive singles and the resultant embarrassment. And occasionally they tweak the format of the dates a little! Yawn. That’s what’s wrong with this show: How compelling is it to watch a bunch of people in (pretty shaky, IMHO) relationships get it on with a bunch of people not in relationships with nothing at stake but potential breakups?
As for The Mole, there is a fair amount of prize money at stake…but the tasks! Do laundry. Punch in an ATM number. Get through town. Find something or other. A kindergartener would not find this exciting.
I’m reminded of Big Brother, which was a monumental flop because, due to CBS’ insistence on “no extraneous influences” or whatever, that left hardly anything for the contestants to do. (C’mon, were they really expecting wild monkey sex or bloody territorial battles?) Survivor, on the other hand, had the harsh reality of life in an untamed wilderness, reward and immunity challenges which strongly affected how well each castaway fared, real-life politics, powerful emotions, and a cutthroat elimination process where no one was safe. They gained ground when they succeeded and were penalized when they failed. And this has become even more apparent in the current Survivor, where everyone’s now playing to win.
A “reality program” is really nothing more than an exotic game show, and to make it work, it needs people going after each other and fighting for something. You know, competition. That’s what I see in Survivor and don’t see in The Mole and Temptation Island. Screw the bare midriffs and endless “will they or won’t they” arglebargle. I want a contest.