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article imageOp-Ed: Peasant TV, or why the reality genre is heading for extinction

By Paul Wallis     May 17, 2012 in Entertainment
Sydney - The most hated form of “entertainment” on Earth, with the possible exception of rap and talkback radio, is apparently suffering from its own creator, the money-mad TV industry Ferengi. The talent-hating genre is dying. Sadly, it’s dying slowly.
Let me say from the start that I despise reality TV. It’s entertainment for prehistoric vermin made by subhuman filth. Any amount of research you do into what I call peasant TV can be a rather dreary process. But when you read the business side of the equation, the overloaded genre is suffocating from its own overkill.
According to the information I’ve seen the usual prognosis for the thousands of reality shows is pretty grim. The average lifespan of a reality show is pretty low. Some survive, mostly the game show types or the freakishly different ones like Mythbusters.
Nobody even knows exactly how many of these shows there are, and a lot have died very quickly. The Wikipedia list of reality TV shows a huge, short-lived herd of them. Other lists like the Reality TV index are quite different.
Another issue is becoming more apparent. The subject matter of the shows is apparently becoming more desperate. I had to laugh at a blog by Geek Girl Chicago for a rather dire description of a show called King of the Nerds.
... We are looking for mathematicians, scientists, programmers, inventors, puzzle-masters, engineers, gamers, comic book fanatics, movie buffs, trekkies [sic], techies, chess masters, role players, you name it."
In other words, exactly the sort of people that hate reality TV. These guys are right in touch, obviously. According to Geek Girl Chicago, it was a non-starter, and a bit dubious to begin with. The interview questions for contestants were also somewhat suspicious:
A few of the interview questions were shifty, too, including "Why are nerds ascendant?" and "What types of people are inferior?" Classic conflict-building.
The answers are simple enough-
Nerds are superior because being superior to dung-worshipping insects isn’t too hard.
What types of people are inferior- Reality TV-making peasants, obviously.
(Technical note: The use of the word “nerds”, used for a few generations by American no-hoper suits to describe people who can read and write and don’t eat with their nostrils, is an obvious pitch to networks, who have learned that words may actually means something.)
(While searching Google, I noticed the standard “Create an alert for British reality TV shows”. My gut reaction was to think “Not an alert. A vaccine.”)
Other shows coming out of the sphincter of futility apparently include:
A teen drug intervention show
The Ultimate Jewish mother show (UK)
Family business
Cute, eh? If you’re a Jewish mother with a family business and a teen with a drug problem, your misery qualifies you for all three shows. There’s a lot of Schadenfreude in reality TV, like the Fear Factor and Weakest Link. The barely hidden sadism is another of the long lasting appeals of the genre. The injuries of others are entertainment. Another quaint characteristic which may be running out of steam when the world keeps having global disasters every other month.
So the picture forming of Peasant TV in its current form is rather interesting, even if the product is as pitiful as ever. A genre which is trying to find niches in a market which is progressively moving away from an old, dying medium. When internet TV finally takes off (thanks, dino-droppings, for dragging the chain on that) there won’t be any TV networks. Probably something equally insane and corporate, but there’ll be more choices.
What happens to Peasant TV is going to be rather interesting in the short term. They’re even recruiting online for reality show hosts and contestants/participants. is as cheesy a site as you could ever wish to see, but it’s also advertising for some big name reality shows like Hells Kitchen. Is that desperation, or a desperate attempt to look authentic by “going social” as the site says? If so, it’s a dying breed, like everything else which claims authenticity through social media.
The signs are that like all old media, reality TV is following the same failed but short term lucrative business models. Somebody must be making money out of these crocks. That’s becoming tougher, too, as the budgets shrink. Nobody in media gets out of bed unless there’s money on the bedside table. If the moneypot shrinks, the game becomes progressively more impossible for the players, exactly like a reality game show.
The Peasant Factor
I call reality TV Peasant TV for a reason. It’s the county fair show of this time. It’s the old stagers rest home, where the illiterates are still laughing at chickens crossing roads. Where the superstitious believe in the “magic” of a two dimensional image. There’s a problem with that model, too.
There are more educated people on Earth than ever before. The chicken and egg mystery no longer cuts it. A herd of drab slabs of flab on a screen isn’t the most impressive thing people have seen. Reality TV is for peasants, and not many people want to think of themselves as peasants. Still less do they want to be considered peasants.
If you tried selling old dishcloths to Victoria’s Secret, they’d be less than thrilled. That’s what Peasant TV is doing. They’re running out of idiots. Even media buyers have limits to their credulity. When the bottom falls out of the old conceptual dungarees a bare ass can get frozen solid in a hurry, and pockets can be frozen shut. It’ll be interesting to see how much market credibility Peasant TV really has.
Just one more thing. Reality TV is oooooooooooold. It's older in a way even soap operas and chat shows can never be. It's boring. That's certain death, sooner or later.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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