Reality shows – Escapism for all… profits for all


Much has been written about the reality shows and my word wont be the last on them. But love them or hate them, they will be around for some time and will pander to every emotion or desire we have.

Singing, dancing, bitching, splitting, Big Boss voyeurism or even cricket! IPL to me was one of the biggest reality shows. The only thing missing in IPL was the sms or text message voting. Though the 6up was probably an attempt.

F1 is yet another reality show. When Schumi was around, everybody knew who will win and it started getting boring. So the organisers devised various ways to make it interesting. This year Lewis Hamilton is languishing, Ferrari is still trying to come to grip with the whole diffuser bit and Brawn… a team out of nowhere is rocking!

The reason this post has come about… read the other day in the paper of how people in Bhaichung Bhutia’s town are buying cash cards to send their votes so that he can win!

What a money spinner “jhalak dikhla ja” is turning out to be. Par for the course when it comes to reality shows. Increased eyeballs translate into more ad revenues for the channels. Revives in some cases or starts a whole new career for many. Viewers get loads of vicarious thrills by all the exhibitionism on display (we just love to see the dirty laundry washed in public) And of course the whole text messaging… adding to the revenues for the service operators. Every one gains!

Now imagine a scenario where the favorite were to actually win everytime and there was no text messaging to vote. Viewership will drop. revenues will drop and the program would be off air in a flash. Who wants the favorite to win… its not a great story. Every underdog who wins is actually all the people living their lives in his/her win. Enough has been said about Susan Boyle so I wont say anything but since its UK… would recommend people to read this book (supposedly fiction but holds true for every reality show) titled CHART THROB! worth a few laughs and of course quite an eye opener.

Lets take Cricket World Cup. Three World Cups in a row, there was a sense of inevitability about them, Australia was going to win and that lead to a certain amount of boredom for me. Only excitement was teams like Ireland or Bangladesh creating a few upsets (how… please read Chart Throb).

Take IPL for instance… Rajasthan Royals last year and Deccan Chargers this year… kept the excitement going and of course left people with lot of conversation on why the favorites lost.

So for all those who still believe that reality shows are real… they are as unreal as they can get. Favorites never win. The judges are there with well scripted lines and everything is an act. Only the person who comes from distant place will win.

Everything around the show is a well crafted marketing and PR strategy.

But the fact is… we want these reality shows because it help us escape the mudanity of our lives… make for great water cooler conversation and also in parties (some can show how well informed they are and some can act snooty about the whole thing although they also probably watch every episode) so three cheers for the reality!

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