When I was growing up, watching television meant watching television programs that were written by creative writers, produced, and involved actors saying the words that those writers wrote and rewrote and deliberated over — sometimes pouring their hearts and emotions into the words that the actors would say. These television programs came in different genres. There were comedies that were situational and not, dramas, soap operas — it was all out there and waiting for us to consume it.
If we wanted to watch a television show — The Cosby Show, for example — we would have to be in front of the television, turned on to the right channel at the time the show was programmed to be on. If we missed the episode, that was it until the season was over and they started showing the season again. There was no other way around it.
Reality television slowly crept its way into our lives, starting innocuously enough with programs like The Real World on MTV and ending up with where we have unfortunately found ourselves today. We have television shows like The Bad Girls Club, which seems to be about women who have no sense of self-respect or shame screaming at each other. Then you have shows like The A List New York, which seems to be about shallow people being well to do and complaining about relationships.
I don’t even want to get started on programs like The Hills or The Real Housewives of Orange County or any other county they have made their presence televised. I attempted once to watch a “real housewives” show and found myself looking at women who behaved unlike any housewife I had ever met. I knew real housewives when I lived in Jerusalem, taking care of the house and the children and having a part time job to supplement the main income… that to me was a real housewife. Not sitting around a salon gossiping about other so-called housewives.
When I want reality, I turn the television off and it is right there in my face. It is cobbledybopping Chaim Yosef and having real meaningful conversations with my wife and sharing a laugh with a friend over a cup of coffee, not watching people tearing each other apart and flipping over tables.
I realize that this plea will fall on bored ears since the cost of so-called reality television is so much less than scripted television but please, producers — save us from this hell that is reality television and put some programming on that is, in reality, well written!