Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What you can learn from Reality TV

I've recently gotten into watching reality TV (I blame my sister for getting me hooked on Australia/America's Next Top Model), but my excuse is that it's a great help with my writing... I swear it does.

So, what can you learn from reality TV:
  1. Petty arguments can arise from the smallest incidents.
    Someone forgetting to wash a bowl, or even looking at another the wrong way, can often lead to arguments and feuds within the house. It seems like there's always something going on that brings the inhabitants to war against each other.
  2. Some character quirks are very interesting
    I've never imagined some of the quirks that some contestants possess. Everyone has flaws, that's just how humans are, and the more interesting that persons quirks, the more unique and memorable that person becomes... the weird sometimes gets more attention than the normal.
  3. Everybody loves a sob story
    No matter what show, the majority of candidates at auditions seems to have a sob story prepared to share for the cameras. Having an elaborate story is a great way to get sympathy from the audience. Everybody loves to root for the underdog.
  4. The lengths that people will go to win
    They may seem chummy in the house, but watch the video diaries and things aren't as sweet. Even the small mannerisms (silent treatment, causing arguments, pretending to listen while driving confirming that persons fears and making them lose focus) that some display towards others are covertly unhinging other contestants so that they will no longer pose a big threat to the main prize. 
  5. Conflict gets more viewers
    No one would want to watch the show if everyone got along. There has to be fights (and the bigger the better), whether it is between contestants or the judges. Even with the main goal (the prize) at the end, it's the problems that the contestants face along the way that makes the show more interesting.
In my defence, there is a lot of things that writers can learn from watching reality TV. I swear I'm not addicted, I can stop at any time... maybe after the next season of Idol though...

So, do any of you watch reality TV? What shows do you love? And, do you just watch them for the inevitable cat fights you know will break out?


Stina said...

The only reality tv I watch is So You Think YOu Can Dance Canada. And that was for research for my new wip and because my 11 yo son is addicted to the show. I even, gasp, phoned in numerous times per show to vote. Never thought I'd do that!

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'm a sucker for reality tv too. Where would my dialogue be if I hadn't watched Jersey Shore?:)

Elana Johnson said...

I absolutely adore reality TV. I've been watching Survivor for years.

For me, the reason I like it so much is because it's fascinating to watch how different people react to extreme circumstances, extreme pressure. Some fight. Some cry. Some work harder. Some lie. Some freak out. It's fascinating to see what people will do when put in an extreme situation--which is what we do to them in novels.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

How is it that I just now realized you have a blog??? after all this time?

Alleged Author said...

I definitely agree about petty arguments arising from the smallest incidents. Sometimes people fight over who left the toilet seat up on reality TV. Then it spawns an out-and-out war between house mates. It's like watching a train wreck!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Interesting point, Cheree! "Everybody loves to root for the underdog" indeed.

I used to watch Survivor until I got totally sick of the back-stabbing. And the contestants' brains seem as small as their bikinis. Not fun anymore.

But I did watch Dancing With the Stars recently, for research of course (*coughs*).

Lydia Kang said...

I don't watch regularly, because I get sucked into the stories and it eats into my writing time. Too addictive.

A Canadian Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by. The only reality TV show I watch occasionally is The Amazing Race because I love seeing the different countries that participants go to. I travel vicariously through them :)

Anonymous said...

Well said! I try to avoid reality TV, but it's true, they pick quirky people who don't mesh well on purpose. Makes for great tension, I guess.

Madigan Mirza said...

I love reality tv. A lot of it is actually a lot more scripted than you would think... the stars are really more like improv actors than anything else.
But, you are right, they do try to cast over-the-top, emotional people who will probably conflict with each other.

Is this evil? I love scenes where the characters break down and cry for really trivial or stupid reasons.
I hate scenes - and I notice that Top Model is doing this a lot more - where the show's producers whip up the contestants into a screaming frenzy of excitement when they vie for prizes. "You all! Are going! To LONDON!" Followed by shrill shrieking for a good 5 minutes.

Still, it's my one vice, these reality tv shows!

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