Wednesday, July 16, marks the debut of Season 5 of Project Runway on Bravo.
I must confess that, for the most part, I don't care for Reality shows--especially the ones set up as supposed "competitions". (The exceptions, for me, are Project Runway and Top Chef.) Seriously, if someone is making up challenges for the contestants--how "real" is that? Just giving a bunch of people a chore and then turning the camera on doesn't necessarily make for compelling TV. And if to make it compelling you have to edit things in a certain order, and manipulate people behind the scenes, and make backstage decisions that might run contrary to what actually happened in the competition--where's the "reality"? Why not challenge your own creativity and make a normal TV show, whether it's a sitcom or an hour-long drama?
The truth, I feel, is that so many so-called reality shows are totally scripted. The real challenge is making us believe that they aren't. Now, I don't mean that all the dialogue and everything that happens is written down. But I do think that certain scenarios are written up or invented, the contestants or families or whoever the main focus of the show is on are told what the show is going to be about and what events will take place--and then everybody is turned loose to see what happens. Any "reality" is kept to a minimum.
I'm also always worried about the little disclaimer at the end of some of these competition-style shows that inform us that the producers or whoever had input into the decision-making process of who stays and who goes. Again, that seems to remove the "reality" from it. If someone made the worst dress, or cooked the worst meal, or whatever--they should be the ones to go. It shouldn't be some guy from the network saying, "Yes, he sucked at the challenge, but he reaches the demographic that we're aiming for, and he's such a jerk that he adds some much needed drama to the show, so get rid of someone else."
I don't know if that's what actually happens, but I sure do wonder, sometimes......
I think my favorite show--a form of reality show--is on the Food Network: Ace of Cakes. Watching Chef Duff and the employees of Charm City Cakes make these incredible (and edible) creations is just amazing to me. That, to me, is real talent. Programs that show off imagination and creativity have more appeal to me than, "Who can eat the most pig testicles?"
It's that creative process and watching the ideas come to life that allow me to cut Project Runway a little slack. And, of course, there's another reason:
Two words: Heidi Klum.
Now that kind of reality I don't mind in the least..... :-)