According to an article in the supplement that comes on a Tuesday with my daily paper, there were fewer than twenty reality shows just ten years ago. This season, however, there are a staggering 560 reality series available. Good grief.
Reality shows are cheaper to make, of course, and many of them are surprisingly popular. That supposedly ordinary people would go on television and expose their lives in the way they do always seems extraordinary to me; even worse are those who seem to have no qualms about letting all their bad temper and behaviour show up on screen. Don't they see how offensive they are?
I watch some reality shows. Some drive me up the wall. Some are fascinating, and some plainly have left so much material out (like those ones where they take horrible teenagers and hand them over for just a week to a couple that's disciplinarian and loving) that you wonder why they bother to show the rest.
The article I referred to above initially relates to the very popular Biggest Loser series, which has evolved from a game-show style with comedy to something that aims to tug at the heartstrings at every point. It's not a show I can bear to watch, personally, and sometimes the contestants seem to be put through some really awful processes to get where they're going. Knowing how tough it is to lose weight, and seeing these people do a supremely focused course in order to lose pounds, I always wonder how they fare in the long run? Do they stay at their new weight, or does nature take over again, and they find themselves pretty much back where they started?
And then there are the side effects of all this weight loss, not all of which are emotional. Certainly it's great for your health to get rid of all that weight, and often people who've struggled with diabetes and such find these areas improve greatly. But what other side effects arise? I would guess that for the people on The Biggest Loser the side effects are mostly positive, unlike, for example, the Phenterex side effects - Phenterex is a diet pill. Diet pills, of course, are the 'easy' option. The fat is supposed to slide off you. Yeah, right.
To name just a few of the side effects of Phenterex, for example, we have the possibility of headaches, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, and the even more severe effects: raised blood pressure, heart palpitations and an increased heart rate.
If it's a choice between a miracle pill and the good old-fashioned approach of proper diet and exercise, the latter will count every time. It's just that for most of us (including those who watch the much-edited Biggest Loser) the seeming miracle of a quick method (as the reality show appears to be) will usually convince us that the quick method is best.