Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Surviving Reality. . . Shows, That Is.

Okay, my name is Betina ("Hello Betina.") and I'm hooked on a reality TV show. I didn't think it would ever happen to me, but here I am. . . glued to the tube each Tuesday night at nine, watching a bunch of smack-talking twits compete for a fabulous prize that none of them deserve.

Hell's Kitchen. Yep, I've been mindnapped into watching the entire season and, yes, even talking back to the contestants during their "confidentials" (where they address the camera for their own personal commentary/rant). I cheer for some, boo at others, and generally make a fool of myself by getting involved with people who chain smoke (How they can still have taste buds, I can't begin to guess!), drink like fish, curse like vocabularily-challenged sailors, and back stab worse than Caesar's good buddy Brutus. How can I possibly have let myself get so brainwashed as to care what happens to these morons?

I confess. . . a lot of the appeal is the host and chief judge on the show Gordon Ramsay. Whew. He'd heat up ANY kitchen. Unfortunately, he has something of a potty mouth. . . which he's said in interviews is not his habit off camera. Personally I find that hard to believe. But he does eat with that mouth and seems to still have a palate. . .

What astonishes me is the fact that, since it's an elimination competition, the contestants are basically horrible to each other from day one. They double cross and backbite and cut each other verbally, especially in their "private" time with the camera. I'm always astonished at how low they'll stoop and how naked and simple-minded their ambition appears. I mean, it's embarrassing. . . the posturing, the bragging, the bitching, the dissing. . . it's a half step above Jerry Springer!

And I'm still watching. Sigh.

I mean, my mama taught me a code of conduct:

Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
Don't say anything behind someone's back that you wouldn't say to their face.
Don't trust a gossip. (Also expressed as: "A dog who will bring a bone will carry one.")
Before you fly off the handle, stop and count to ten.
Remember everyone has strengths and weaknesses. . . yes, even you.
If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all.
Given enough rope, people will hang themselves without your assistance.
Keep your mind on your own work; that's what you're accountable for.
Take responsibility for your mistakes.

Well, you get the idea. But apparently when they select candidates for these elimination shows, they bend heavily toward people who are mom-wisdom deprived. Or folks whose moms went to a really different school than mine. These folks have no inhibitions and are fond of smack-talk, bragging, and the abundant use of the "f" word. Oh, and "biatch." Only without the "a." (All while handling the tenderest fillet mignon and most delicate souffl├ęs!)

And the men are all Neanderthals. Really. They refer to the women's team as Hell's Bitches and make lots of misogynistic statements about the female contestants. And some of the women try to lure (sexually) some of the guys to "get their heads out of the game." Yikes. The back-hair alone should prevent inter-team coupling! I mean, have you seen short order cooks?

I should have known I was headed for this. It started innocently enough with an episode or two of Survivor. . . just to see what all the fuss was about.

Then there was Dancing with the Stars. And who could possibly forget the first season of The Apprentice with The Donald? Then The Next Design Star and Top Chef. It was a slippery slope toward So You Think You Can Dance and finally. . . Hell's Kitchen.

Only four contestants left in this season's Hell's Kitchen, thank heaven. Soon I can rest again and return to my usual sane viewing habits. . . until next spring and season four. . . unless I get hooked on another evil "reality" show.

Is there a Twelve Step Program for this?

So what's your favorite "evil moment" from a reality show competition? Remember the naked Richard Hatch on the original Survivor? Remember Omarosa on the Apprentice? That poor woman's name has become a synonym for double-dealing! And what about the Survivor couple that got married. . . Amber and Boston Bob. . . did you root for their romance or cringe to see them together?

What's your favorite reality show? And what bugs you most about this kind of TV? Do you think it's dumbing-down America? And do you secretly love it when the contestants go at it fang and claw?

Speaking of fang and claw. . . I'll be giving away a really cool gift to one lucky commenter today! So get ready to chat!


lois greiman said...

Betina, I'm so sorry you were sucked in. Maybe the anonymous program will help. I hear they do wonders. :)

As for me, I like the dancing show, but summer only lasts three minutes here in MN, as you know, so I always feel I should be outside if I'm not writing. Sigh. I'm ready for a nice addiction.

Keri Ford said...

Betina, I'll sit right next to you on the couch, cheering at the tv for my favs, and waiting for the worst contestant to got away (why is Jen still there??? She has such an attitude! I think the show's keeping her on for 'effect')

I do LOVE Gordon Ramsey. All his frank, no sugar-coating, straight out of the mouth is what makes him a complete ALPHA Hero. I caught a clip of him on BBC where he's with his kids, heart melting moment! They're raising pigs to slaughter and he was afraid the kids were getting close to the pigs, thinking they were pets. So Gordon gets his ground keeper or somebody, him and the kids go out to the hog pen. He's tying to show the kids that this will be sitting to left of the turkey come thanksgiving by tapping off the parts of the hog. Well, the hog won't play along, so Gordon drops to his hands and knees (in the hog pen!) while his assistant tapes off his shoulders, hindquaters, backstrap, and all the others! Adorable I tell you!

Liza said...

I loved Hell's Kitchen last year, but this year I didn't like any of the contestants and gave it up after the 4th week(I do love Gordon Ramsey). I loved Nashville Star on Monday night. It is filled with very talented singers and the judges actually are trying to help the singers be better. I don't really watch many of the other reality shows anymore. I will watch Idol next Spring.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Betina,
I'm hooked on Reality, too, and never thought it would happen. I started with So You Think You Can DAnce, which is still my favorite, and then I added Top Chef, The Next Food Network Star and Project Runway. I love watching talented people do what they do! That's why I didn't mention Hell's Kitchen. Much as I love Chef Ramsey, they pick very unappealing contestants who can't really cook. I guess if they could, then they wouldn't put up with Chef screaming at them, if you know what I mean. My question is, how on earth can one of these people end up running a restaurant? Do they send them to executive chef school?
Great topic--Jeannie

Playground Monitor said...

Blogger ate my reply. Boo hoo. Maybe I can remember it.

I watch Survivor, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, and they're over for the summer. But then Nashville Star began so I'm not reality free anymore. We have watched from season one and even attended a live taping during the second season when it was still on Saturday night. The addition of duos and trios should make it quite interesting.

Dumbing down America? Heck yeah. OTOH, now I know what a heel lead is and can do a beginner's cha cha thanks to the ballroom classes the DH and I took.

Favorite evil moments? There were quite a few blindsides on Survivor this year. And oh my gosh yes, Omarosa is evil to the bone. The DH is a project manager by profession and she makes him cringe. Who on earth would ever hire that woman? I'm still upset that Trace Adkins didn't win Celebrity Apprentice.

Marilyn - who will copy her reply before hitting the publish button

Cindy Gerard said...

So glad to hear there are others out there who have gone over to the dark side.
Who can forget Johnny Fairplay on Survivor, crying real tears to get sympathy for his poor deceased grandma - when she never really died!! He was the cream of the crap, let me tell you.
Sometimes I watch that one on Brava that Heidi Klum hosts - is it Runway?? just so I can sit there, mouth agape at the flamboyant personalities and clothes they create. It's frightening to me that THOSE are the people who dictate fashion :o)

Helen Brenna said...

I'm so out of it. As usual. LOL

Karen B said...

Dancing With the Stars is the only one I watch. They get a little gushy at times but I just can't stand the nastiness of the others.

Betina Krahn said...

Lois, I hear you on the short summers.

Keri-- I'm with you on Jen. But I guess The Gordon knows she really can cook and has talent, so he wants her to stay. . . also because she adds spice to the interplay. But can you really see her running a kitchen? Who would work for her?

Liza, I haven't tried Nashville Star, but now that you mention it-- SMACK! Just put the remote down and back away!

Jeannie, I'm with you! I can't help wondering how the former picks are doing. . . but a few episodes back they showed "Rock" from last season doing well in his snazzy new restaurant. Of course, he always was one of the nicer and more sane ones. This crew. . . I don't know that I would trust any of them to run a lemonade stand!

Marilyn, I'm with you on trying to avoid new addictions. But it's tough. And do you think the whole point of these super-competitive shows is to show how pointless unrestrained competition is? I mean part of Gordon's thing at the outset is to insist these people work together as a team. . . which, of course they never do. I think that's because they pick people who are ego-centric to begin with. Maybe the point is: it doesn't matter how talented you are if you can't get along with others you can't accomplish much!
(Good "Mom" lesson, by the way!)

Cindy, rofl "the cream of the crap"!! I nearly lost continence there for a minute! Oooooh, Project Runway. I caught part of one episode and realized it might be habit forming, so I quickly changed the channel. Is it good? Am I really missing out?

Helen, dear. . . go write brilliantly and don't worry about your lack of addictions. There's plenty of time for that later.

Michele Hauf said...

Dancing With The Stars is my only reality fixation. And that's only because of Max. He'd better be back this fall, because he wasn't on the last season and I had to fixate on Tony D instead. No match for Max. :-)

Playground Monitor said...

Ooooh! Max! I was in serious Max withdrawal this season. However, Christian de la Fuente went a long way to fill the void. ;-)

Virginia said...

I don't do much reality TV. I did watch American Idol, but thats about it. I think they have to much or the reality shows on TV. It seems like that is all that is on anymore. I really don't care for it.

CrystalGB said...

I do watch reality tv. I like American Idol, The Amazing Race, Survivor, and all the dancing shows.

jennyh said...

I watch American Idol--but only after it's narrowed down to the Top 20. I cannot stand the awful auditions.

What's most disturbing is how it's impossible to watch the show without talking back to the TV. I have a friend who is a singer and we watch together every week. We've found it's no good to record it, because we actually need the time during the commercial breaks to comment on the performances.

Call it reality--but we never, ever vote.

Michele Hauf said...

Playground, oh yeah, how could I forget Christian? Nice eye candy. :-)

Cai said...

Hello, I'm Cai, and Betina, I'm right there with you - I am a reality show junkie.

I couldn't believe they didn't have Max on this season's Dancing with the Stars - I missed his smouldering sensuality and unbuttoned shirts...sigh. :)

I avidly watch Project Runway, Top Chef, America's Got Talent, Survivor, Hell's Kitchen (LOVED "The F-Word" on the BBC with 'our' man, Gordon), Kitchen Nightmares (again with Gordon), and, I confess, I even watched one episode of The Mole but couldn't get into that one...

I don't know if it's the conflict or the chance to sit back and watch other people making fools of themselves on National TV without having to worry about being right there with them that causes me to keep watching, but I'll be passing the popcorn & tuning in every week... ;)

The Book Girl said...

I don't watch much reality TV. I watch American idol (once it is down to the final 10) and I am watching the Legally Blond show on MTV (where they find a replacement for the Broadway show). I try to not watch too much TV, and when it is on it is usually turned to a cartoon channel for the kiddos.

PJ said...

Another reality junkie here and I blame it all on my niece. She got me watching American Idol the first season and now I can't stop with the reality shows. And I enjoy them! lol

I watch Survivor (all seasons), American Idol (all seasons), Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Next Food Network Star, Bachelor and Bachelorette (always I won't watch then get sucked in), The Apprentice (can't stand Omarosa- Trace should have won!)and America's Got Talent. I even call in to vote on AI and DWIT.

Cindy, I'm rofl over "cream of the crap"! You nailed it though. Johnny Fairplay definitely takes that prize!

Betina Krahn said...

Virginia, I'm with you-- too much "Reality" programming on these days. I thought I'd go buggy this winter during the writer's strike. Literally "reality" was all that was on! I could only take so much American Idol, so I waiting until they reached the top twelve or so to watch.

Michele and Marilyn, now I have to go back to previous season highlights of Dancing with the Stars to find this "Max" guy!

JennyH, I'm with you on the talking thing. . . it's almost impossible to watch and remain silent. Maybe that's the key to the whole thing; it makes us want to participate, if only through airing our own opinions.

Cai, the fool-watching and the conflict. . . people behaving badly always draw a crowd. Me included. Who knew?

Book girl, I think you're much better off with a good book!

And PJ, your tastes are all over the place. If you had to pick a favorite show, which would it be?

And hey, have you learned anything from these shows. . . like cooking terms or dance steps or business strategies? I get a kick out of learning something I didn't know before. . . yes, even on these bucket-of-blood shows! It's a glimpse into another world for a house-bound writer!

anne said...

I have watched and enjoyed Dancing with Stars because I love the amazing dancing. It is so perfect and looks flawless and easy.
I did watch Hell's Kitchen briefly but soemtimes the behavior really turns me off.

Marilyn Brant said...

Betina--What a great post! You're hilarious(that line about short-order cooks and back hair had me LOL :-).

The reality show that sucked me in for far too many seasons (I won't admit how many) was The Bachelor. OMG, those women! There was this one episode where a lady who'd been sent home the prior week figured out where one of the "dates" would be taking place--she crashed their date, pulled the bachelor guy into the hotel kitchen or something, handed him her room key (!!!) and then verbally propositioned him. I stared at the screen in shock for 10 full minutes.

And then there's American Idol...don't get me started :).

ruth said...

I watch next Food Network. The judges are entertaining in their own way and the food is interesting. Dancing with stars is fun too for the variety of people and dances.

ellie said...

I am not addicted to the shows but watch them through the season at intervals. My favorite is Dancing with the Stars which is wonderful. SInce dancing is now all the rage everyone seems to be taking lessons and perfecting their steps. I enjoy cooking shows greatly since they provide the ultimate in fun, and food.

PJ said...

Betina, I'd have to say my two top favorites are Dancing With the Stars and American Idol. DWTS because it's fun seeing celebrities who are willing to step outside their comfort zone on national TV and do it, for the most part, with humility and grace. AI because it's all about making your dreams come true.

I've learned a lot about ballroom dancing by watching DWTS. Some of my friends are now taking lessons after watching the show.

I've learned a lot about other countries and cultures from watching The Amazing Race.

I guess one of the things I like about reality shows is that I can multi-task while they're on. They usually don't require my complete attention. I just stop whatever task I'm working on to watch when they perform/compete.

diane said...

Reality shows are something new which is ok in small doses. I tuned into Hell's Kitchen one day and was shocked with it. A little over the top but I guess it is full of flavor. Dancing with the stars is more my type as the contestants are great.

jenna said...

I am nuts about all reality shows. American Idol is my favorite as I love all that talent. The Food shows are wonderful since I love anything about food and the characters are something else.

Betina Krahn said...

Anne, the behavior on many of the shows is atrocious. I find that I usually pick a contestant or two and cheer for them. . . and a try to make it one of the better behaved ones!

Marilyn, I hear you on The Bachelor. It amazes me what these people will do in front of millions of people in the viewing audience. Is fifteen minutes of fame THAT important. And what did that hussy think the bachelor would do? Say: wow this is the loosest and most conniving female in the history of humankind-- I must have her, marry her and cherish her? Yikes!

Ellie, I do think interest in dancing has risen as a result of Dancing With The Stars. It's very classy TV and it's inspiring to see what non-dancers can do with some practice and a patient partner! Gives us all hope. I even took tango lessons for a while!

P.J. I like DWTS for many of the same reasons. I haven't gotten into The Amazing Race. . . I should check it out. Anything that can make Geography fun gets my vote!

Diane, I was a bit shocked at first too, at the language and behavior on Hell's Kitchen. But I honestly think they show the most outrageous bits in the trailers. Or maybe my tolerance for such stuff is just rising. Ewwwww.

Jenna, a lot of us seem to like the food shows. Do you pick up cooking tricks or learn anything about how a good restaurant operates from watching the show?

petite said...

Thanks for this delightful post today.
I watch for sheer fun and entertainment. I do not take it seriously so it is easy to watch.
Hell's Kitchen is a nightmare to me but different.
I love Dancing with The Stars since they are so lithe, limber and easy on their feet. It makes me jealous.
Love food shows since the people are more realistic.

Kathleen Eagle said...

The only elimination reality contests that have hooked me are Project Runway and the interior designer competition--what's the name of that one? I've given a look-see to many of them, but if I'm not hooked the first time around, I don't go back. And I generally try them when my dear friends swoon and gush. So now I have to take a peek at Hell's Kitchen. (I thought Top Chef was boring, partly because cooking is not my favorite thing to do anyway.)

For the most part, I'm not a big fan of reality. Donald Trump makes me gag. Ditto the Idol judges, but not as bad as Trump. The contests to win a man or a woman seem mostly icky. Very junior high school.

But how about those Celtics? I'm glued to the NBA playoffs this year. I was told recently that this seemed very weird--a woman, a *romance writer* not interested in [insert some reality show being discussed, don't remember which] but she has to get home before *the basketball game* starts.

To each her own, no matter what she writes.

Estella said...

I have never watched a reality show.

PJ said...

Kathleen, I've been a sports junkie since I was a young sprout and a Celtics fan since Havlicek and Russell were on the court! LA was able to take the game last night but my $ (and hopes) are still on the Celtics to take the championship.

We bought a 55" big-screen TV several years ago. People would tease me about my husband wanting the big TV to watch sports. Truth? I had been trying to convince him we needed one for years, ever since we watched a football game on one at a friend's house!

The Book Girl said...

I forgot about the Mole. I love that show. I like to try and figure it out and have to analyze all of the "clues" that are given each week.

Cheri2628 said...

My favorite is Dancing with the Stars. I also like American Idol although Simon can be unbelievably nasty at times. I just started watching Nashville Star. Since I have only seen one episode, I am not sure how I will like it.

GladysMP said...

I watched Dancing With the Stars for quite a while, but even lost interest in it. And the show that sprung off of it was totally uninteresting. A couple of nights of it, and I said, "No,way." TV shows as a whole are not worth the time spent watching them. They have to add scandulous items to get people talking and it is all so fake. Stations just have too much time to fill and so little worthwhile material to fill that time with. Sad, but true. I actually feel sorry for people that leave their TVs turned on every minute they are in their house. There are so many more-interesting things to do.

catslady said...

I've watched Survivor from the beginning. Then I started watching Idol and now Dancing with the Stars. 3 isn't too bad lol. My husband hates them all so I don't want to push my luck. I do think that on Survivor they show you what they want to wich could be misleading but I'm hooked anyway.

catslady said...

oops - of course I meant "which" - don't count this post lol.

tetewa said...

My favorites are Survivor and So you think you can Dance. I'm also getting into Randy Jackson's Best dance crews. I loved the first season of Survivor when Sue made her speech to Kelly and Richard about being a rat and a snake. I thought she went a bit to far when she said that if they were dying of thirst and she had a glass of water that she wouldn't give it to them. I also agree that Johnny Fairplay was rotten when he cried fake tears pretending that his gradma passed. Love the reality shows, I'm right there with you.

Jane said...

My favorite evil moment was during Real World San Francisco and Puck stuck his dirty fingers into a jar of peanut butter. His roommates were offended not only by his actions but by his attitude, too. I like to watch the cat fights on Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. My favorite reality show is The Amazing Race. I like the physical aspect of the show and the drama of the teams trying to complete their challenge.

Lily said...

I usually like the dancing shows, and for once, I don't think they are such a bad influence, as they show dedication and determination!

Nathalie said...

I really like reality shows. I started with the Bachelor and it was just hilarious when the girls got jealous and started to gossip!

Now, I still watch it, but I prefer Dancing with the Stars and So You think You Can Dance, and their is less claws showing :-)

Maguy said...

I only watch reality shows in the summers where the shows are re-runs and I just have nothing to do!

JoAnna said...

Wow...I dont watch reality shows at all. I feel kinda left out of the popular crowd now;)

limecello said...

Oh reality tv. I like to think I don't really watch it - but... I do. :X Sometimes I'm doing other things and don't change the channel - so I've caught some wife swap, vacation swap, the nanny, etc.
I do have a sick fascination with America's Next Top Model - and for a short period I had Bravo, and watched Top Chef - that was great. However, there were some players that were jerks. For challenges, taking items that they knew others would need - not because they needed them but to prevent others from cooking with them.
Actually, I get disappointed in the person, and people in general when there's behavior like that. Still - it's like a train wreck - you don't want to see it but can't look away, in regards to reality shows.

Cai said...

OMG!! The Amazing Race - I LOVE that show - both for the scenery (places I'll probably never get the chance to actually go!) and the cultural lessons you learn while the contestants are performing their challenges. The Goth couple from last season (Kynt & Vyxen) and their tribal dance for the African chiefs comes immediately to mind...that and the couple who actually won (and sadly, I can't remember their names) where the woman shaved her GORGEOUS hair completely off (crying the whole time) because one member of their team had to and her hubby was already sporting a "chrome dome." She was a BEAUTIFUL woman - with & without the hair and I was so glad they actually won the million bucks! ;)

Jeanette J said...

I have never watched any of the reality shows you mentioned but I am hooked on the real detective/crime scene shows like 48 hours or The New Detectives. From the commercials about any reality shows I have seen, they seem to be getting more and more cruel towards each other rather than just competing against each other

robynl said...

I do watch Reality shows but not sure why sometimes. I was not in favor of Rob/Amber to win; I did see Ricard Hatch for as much as they let us see; Hell's Kitchen really embarrasses me when he yells at the cooks and the whole restaurant can hear him; I yell at contestants in The Amazing Race and on Big Brother BUT I still watch them.

Kathleen Eagle said...

PJ--it's late, so you probably won't see this, but I grew up in MA, so I remember the days of Havlicek and Russell. The last Celtics finals championship in '69 (big year--I met my husband) is such a neat comeback story.

I loved the interviews they showed during the eastern finals between Bill Russell and KG, who is such a class act.

And I love Leon Powe's amazing story. 23 years old, playing in the finals, has a huge game the other night, and they talk about how just a few years ago he was homeless with his mother and 5 sibs after their house burned down, mother died, kids went into foster care but Leon kept them together. Love the stories like this. KG has a great story, too. There are somebig disappointments among pro athletes, but guys like these make the sport worth watching.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay-- a big two thumbs up for the dancing shows and American Idol. . . and a few of the food shows.

Just goes to show that our tastes are all over the map!

Jeanette J: I hadn't thought of The New Detectives and the forensics shows like Doctor G as being reality shows, but they so clearly are. I love them, too! If I were a suspense writer I'd be getting ideas right and left for books!

Joanna, don't feel left out. Put it this way, you're just spending your time more productively. . . reading brilliant blogs and participating in a wonderful online community! ::grin::

Thanks everybody for a great chat! Be sure to check back tomorrow for the winner of today's giveaway!

Lori T said...


I am a reality show junky too. I love Project Runway, Big Brother, Last Comic Standing, ok...I'll admit...I am so easily pulled in and I do find it a bit embarrassing.

Let me know if you find that twelve step program...because maybe we could carpool.

Dina said...

I used to love these kinds of shows, but reall yno into them anymore. Some are ok, like Hell's Kitchen and I'll watch them once in awhile only.

Betina Krahn said...

Yeah, Lori T. . . a carpool is a great idea. Then maybe after the meeting we could stop off at Barnes and Noble of Books-a-Million and buy some good books!!

;) Betina

Lori T said...


I definitely think that we should do know the first step is to admit you have a problem. And after taking that first major step...we will need to reward ourselves...don't you think?

Maureen said...

I do enjoy watching reality TV. At night I am usually doing things around the house so if I miss it I can get a recap and it is so easy to catch up on my favorite reality shows. My favorite moment was one most people wouldn't have noticed but it was on Top Chef when a team won their wedding competition and from the team Richard won the challenge and he gave his win to Stephanie because he felt that he could never have made a wedding cake and so they would have lost without her doing that.