tv shows

3 Reasons I Love Reality TV

The black friend I'm not embarassed to have.

As a professional writer, people are often shocked that I watch as much reality TV as I do. When I come home from work, I’m more interested in checking in with the Real Housewives than I am with the Desperate Housewives and I’d often rather watch Dirty Jobs than watch scripted lawyers or doctors do their jobs (though I’m really warming up to Fairly Legal right now!! And Archer is a new favorite, too!)

And when I started thinking about it, it makes perfect sense! Here’s why:

1. It reminds me of why I’m an Oreo. Let’s be honest, black folks rarely look good on reality TV. From back in the day with angry Kevin on MTV’s first Real World, crazy Omarosa on the premiere season of The Apprentice, anyone on Flavor of STDs Love or the dearth of people of color on higher end reality shows where people are actually showcasing actual talents (apart from Idol, I suppose), reality TV reminds an Oreo why it sucks to be of color and why we must escape it.

2. My brain gets to shut off. Because I often write for my living, it’s hard for me to watch scripted shows without analyzing how they’re doing what they’re doing. I often can’t just wait patiently to find out what crazy hijinks Michael Scott is up to without guessing how they’re going to quietly set up the second act turn.

3. Free education! I actually learn stuff! Here are some of my fave shows and what I tend to glean from them.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – my current dirtiest pleasure. First, it definitely satisfies the Oreo element as the only black person I’ve seen so far is the limo driver. Second, these self-dubbed “alpha women” must be doing something right, right? Apparently, one of those things is eye contact. While I look away several times during an average conversation so as not to appear too aggressive, these ladies go for it and stare directly into the pupils of their conversation partner with no breaks and often without blinking. Maybe that’s how they’ve risen to the ranks they have. What do you think? Is it the botox or a true conversation tactic?

Hell’s Kitchen – First, I love me some Gordon Ramsay. British, handsome, a rogue with a heart of gold! Second, this show has given me new fun Oreo-tastic things to say. Like when I have dinner parties, I have stopped saying that “dinner’s ready.” Instead, I say that “dinner has been plated,” and add in other fun words from the show like like “pancetta,” “creme fraiche” and “donkey*#&(*))(#$&”

Intervention – First, this is a real downer of a show, but can actually teach a lot about effective and efficient communication–something I’m kind of a geek for. Second, this might be the only show that doesn’t fit my first rule for liking reality TV. Because even though this show is about drug addicts who have often turned to lives of crime and poverty to feed their habits–it rarely, if ever, features black people.

How do you feel about reality TV? Fave shows? Hated shows? Let us know in the comments!

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For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience onĀ Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

*Shameless Oreo Plug. 1) SmartyPig is a totally cool $-savings tool! I highly recommend it. b) So I have the opportunity to meet with an actor who I love love love in the UK this summer. Trying to make it a successful working holiday and take some other Brit talent out for a pint with the hope of writing for them one day. Should anyone feel inclined to help an Oreo purchase one of those pints, it would be totes appreciated. You can learn more about my trip, and SmartyPig at this link.

TV Show Fades to Black, then Fades

When JJ Abram’s hour-long drama, “Sexy Sexy Black People” Undercovers showed up in the TV listings, I was super worried. A show with Oreo-esque leads might lead to other TV shows to feature layered characters of color and then how would I stand out??

But my fears were allayed with NBC announced they were canceling it.

Writing for The Root, Marcus Vanderberg mentions that Undercovers had a lot of challenges–including untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot.

Another problem:

Black viewers, who many might have guessed would rally behind the show, never embraced it. Undercovers only cracked the top 10 on Target Market News‘ list of the top 25 broadcast shows in black households twice, and that was during its first two weeks on air. On Nov. 4, the night before the show was officially canceled, Undercovers finished 16th in black households behind Hawaii Five-0 and The Mentalist, both of which lack black lead characters.

Black people didn’t want to watch a show with untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot. So now, networks are feeling skittish again about casting leads of color in a show.

The fact that black leads are such a gamble on network TV these days highlights the noticeable shift in programming during the last 25 years….

…The UPN and the WB, which is now the CW Network, copied the Fox blueprint (think Girlfriends) before they all abandoned most of their black programming in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience. And now it seems as if all the inroads of the past few decades have been for nothing…

I took a look at other shows that have been canceled or threatened with cancellation this year and noticed a disturbing trend:

18 To Life: Kids Get Married on a Dare

100 Questions: A girl and her friends navigate life in NYC - canceled after 6 eps

As The World Turns: Stodgy Soaps Suddenly Seems Sexy

Man with huge hands gives advice - canceled after 2 eps

The Bridge: Cop does cop things.- canceled after 3 eps

Gravity: Suicide survivors make jokes - canceled after 10 eps

Huge: Nikki Blonsky goes to camp

Lone Star: A con man has a conscious...and also a lot of sex. - canceled after 2 eps.

My Generation: Angst and agnst with a dollop of angst. - canceled after 2 eps

Outlaw: Jimmy Smits knows justice; but not TV audiences - canceled after four eps.

Notice anything about most of the people in these shows?

They’re actors! Apparently, actor-led TV shows have a really hard time sticking. I hope the networks don’t feel skittish about gambling on having actors in their shows after this disappointing season.

Crossing my fingers for you, actors. You’ll figure it out.

And if you do wanna see some of colors leading a show…there’s always the still-climbing-in-the-ratings Real Housewives of Atlanta where next week, Phaedra and Apollo will have a baby…or won’t they???

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For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!