The Hidden Agenda of Reality TV

The purpose of Reality TV remained elusive for some time. Well, not the singular motivating purpose, which was known all along: making bigger profits for network TV executives by doing away with the need for quality writers, actors and directors. Tertiary purposes of Reality TV have only just become obvious with the latent move away from the only reality associated with these shows being that they were a way to resurrect the concept of the prime time game show toward the inexplicable concept that these shows now exist to make celebrities out of pawn shop owners, annoying girls who live on the Jersey Shore, storage unit buyers, swamp animal hunters and other assorted unpleasant people stuck in dead end jobs or with lives leading nowhere but toward long-term unhappiness.

Reality TV today is mired more in the never-ending attempt to transform those who perform the jobs the rest of the American citizenry does not want but which illegal immigrants are not yet equipped to handle due to the high profile of the work. It is one thing to group together several hundred illegal immigrants in a large crop field or to hide single examples of illegal immigration behind the high-toned walls of Republican lawmakers, but it is another to put them in jobs like pawn shop owner, ice truck driver, Alaskan crab fisherman or any of the other myriad jobs that have somehow become the focus of the Discovery Channel sub-zone of Reality TV.

What the Reality TV shows found on Discover and A&E and History Channel (really, History Channel?) and the 99% of the non-religious cable networks screening the crap that passes for entertainment provided for outrageous cost to easily duped consumers by America’s cable companies are about other than creating the widest possible gap between how much it costs to produce these shows and the revenues they produce (a little thing called profit for those who skipped Economics 101 in order to watch Snookie or Kim or one of them there swamp people do or say anything) is transforming these dead-end jobs requiring no educational requirements above high school into something that seems downright glamorous.

A job picking your way through the smelly effluence left behind inside storage lockers by those not interested enough in paying the monthly charge must be more glamorous that it would seem if it’s on television, right? And a life lived among the most deadheaded and intellectually challenged people in America—those who call their home the Jersey Shore—must be more exciting than it actually is in real life since it has been determined to be worthy of broadcasting on television, right?

The instant-rock star mindset of Americans that rose with the collapse of this country as a producer and its transformation into an almost 100% consumer economy is still in place, but Reality TV of this ilk has proven that you don’t need to have musical talent or the ability to act or even a pretty face (I present Snookie as evidence beyond argument) in order to have a fulfilling life. Today’s rock stars are the pawn shop employees and long distance truckers and alligator hunters and cupcake designers and daughters of accessories to murder after the fact. The hidden agenda—maybe not even hidden so much—is to convince a generation of Americans that even the unskilled service positions that is their legacy thanks to the political agenda of the corporate heads guiding their destiny is worthy of their time.

After all, eventually, every single unpleasant job in America will be the subject of a Realty TV Show. As long as people are still willing to pay outrageous sums of money to let Cox, Comcast and other companies tell them what is worth watching at any given moment in time.