Home Sweet Home
The obligatory bio
Charites & Organizations
My Calgary Sun Column & More
Law Stuff
Gary Lautens
E-mail me!

Reality Bites

by Stephen Lautens


September 1, 2000

So Survivor is over and we can all get back on with our lives. It's been more than a week since I've heard anyone discuss who's going to be next off the island, and I've enjoyed every blissful minute of it.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a TV snob. I'm not glued to the set when the CBC airs a program on alternative interpretative dance featuring two people in rubber masks leaping around an egg for two hours. Documentaries on the first pioneer shoehorn factory in North Battleford leave me cold, especially when I see the producers thanking my tax dollars in the end credits.

You just have to ask my wife. I watch a lot of junk on TV. I was raised on Hogan's Heroes and Get Smart. As an adult I'll happily sit through Zena or Buffy or Beavis and Butthead. All the time I'll be thinking - there must be something better I could be doing - but I'll sit there anyway.

My TV standards are obviously not high.

But even with my low standards, Survivor didn't do it for me. I know I'm alone in this. The rest of the world has been Survivor mad for the last few months. Who was off the island was reported on nightly news before airplane crashes. Every newspaper devoted sections to it. Websites and rumours were followed more closely than the stock market.

I was especially disappointed to learn that the winners didn't get to eat the losers. It would have been much more interesting if he tribal council ended with someone in a big soup pot.

And now its gone. After the public obsession over Survivor, just ten days later it seems odd to even mention it now. It's so last week.

But rest assured that even as we speak the pinheads who brought you such great reality shows as "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" are looking for our next obsession.

I caught five minutes of the TV show Big Brother. It seems to be Survivor without rats and fake palm trees. Like Survivor I decided I didn't like anyone enough to care about what they did.

That's the problem with reality shows. Real people just aren't that likeable or even interesting. The Internet is full of websites with cameras showing us every detail of ordinary people's lives - and it's boring.

My own former roommate got on my nerves by never buying toilet paper or cleaning the dishes. Annoying - yes. Destined to be the subject of a TV series - no.

What's next - a TV show called "Juice" with a camera in a real kitchen to see if the person who drinks the last of the fruit punch makes a new pitcher, or just puts it back in the fridge for the next person?

Maybe a camera could follow someone through the airport while they look for their luggage and a cart without a wobbly wheel.

Or sullen teens could be brought together to compete for who has the most tortured and meaningless existence because their parents won't let them have a ferret.

It's strange that no one watches our own Canadian reality show, where broken alliances and weasly behaviour is also rewarded with the opportunity to come back again next week.

By all rights, the Parliamentary channel should be in prime time - real life, real drama, real tax dollars.


Back to column archive index