Reality Bites

I was listening to NPR the other morning while coming back from driving my kids to school (those spoiled little brats won’t take the bus anymore) when I heard an interesting little news tidbit: Reality TV is waning.

So soon? Gosh, it seems like just yesterday I was riveted by the realistic humans in real-life situations that I could relate to on Survivor and MTV’s The Real World. And only 15 years later, I know more about the children of aging, surgically enhanced, has-been rock stars than I know about my own nieces and nephews.

I’ve sat in on Gene Simmons’ Joker-faced wife tell the facts of life to her 17-year-old son, when just the week before I watched him having sex with his girlfriend in the back of his dad’s limo. I celebrated Mother’s Day with Whitney Houston, who went to a day spa and complained that her kids went with her. I lived through Hulk Hogan’s wife’s pregnancy scare - or was that Gene Simmons’ wife? Did I get those two switched? Could I have mistaken one blonde, liposuctioned, top-heavy, gold digger for another?

Anywho, the NPR reporter out of Rome says that Italian television execs are passing on the reality shows. They say this type of programming, while at first entertaining in a voyeuristic kind of way, has crossed the line into blasphemy and is sickening the Italian TV viewer. Also, Italians in general are just tired of watching real people.

This made the news because we all know how we look to Italy for guidance on entertainment and media trends.

This tidbit has American entertainment moguls in a sweat. They knew that reality TV wouldn’t last forever. But there’s so much left to cover! Every day there’s an actor, singer or model who gets turned down for a key role and begins that plunge into obscurity. He or she will begin to frantically look around for ways to stay on your TV screen at all times of the night and day.  Fifteen minutes of fame? Try two seasons, minimum, Andy. It’s the least this industry can do for them, after all the sacrifices they’ve made. 

So if they’re not buying reality shows any longer, what are those trend-setting Italians after? Docu-dramas? Mini-series? PBS-ish biographies? Smart, edgy, laughtrackless comedies?

No. They’re buying game shows.

Whew. For a minute there I thought European TV was going to overshadow the Americans. Then what would we make fun of when we travel to Europe?