Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A big giant reality show.

I'm becoming increasingly perplexed about the mission statements of cable TV stations. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them, but I suppose any amount of time could lead one to perplexity.

I'm old enough to remember when TLC stood for The Learning Channel. It really was; there was an absolutely outstanding series in the 90's called The Learning Channel's Great Books, most episodes narrated by Donald Sutherland. In one-hour episodes you could learn about the books' story and the characters (in the case of fiction), the topic and development (for nonfiction), the author, the history, the impact, and the importance of a great world classic. Can you see TLC running that today? The network that does shows about enormously fat people, little tiny people, hugely tall people, gigantic families.... I won't call it the freak show network, as I have respect for the individuals on these shows, but it appears that to TLC it is their mission statement: Freaks On Parade.

But really, all the channels now are sliding this way. They all want a show where you have a family or a business full of oddballs so they can show us their hilarious or touching interactions. Fine---but it leads to shows that don't seem to make sense for the channel on which they appear.

Animal Planet has shows about tree house builders and pool builders. What's that have to do with animals? The tree houses aren't for squirrels. Tanked at least features fish, along with the goofballs who run the business.

Much as I love the Duck Dynasty high jinks on A&E, the Robertsons are not Arts and they are supposedly reality, not Entertainment. Bravo was supposed to be a high-class culture channel once upon a time, not a Real Housewives channel. Not sure how much Discovery is going on with Discovery's Naked and Afraid---the title probably tells you all you need to discover. I guess the car restoration shows on History are historical, but it's a far cry from the all-documentary channel it once was.

Basically I see all these channels slowly tending to put the same kind of shows on, and as they become less attached to their original raison d'etre, the channels will morph into one single channel called Reality. And then you might as well turn off the TV and go outside.

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