So I know for some that the idea of Good Reality TV is really does not go together and it is true. Most reality TV is so bogged down by drama it can be hard to watch. The shows that purposely play up the drama and really are just about pushing people to the limits. Any dating competition or weird game competition type shows or just putting strangers in a room always tend to be heavier on the drama because the whole purpose is to see what you can make people do. MTV is notorious for making shows that just hype up the drama of the situation.
The reality TV that I personally enjoy the best are ones where people compete based on a talent. Personally things like American Idol and America’s Got Talent do not really keep my attention because you have a mix of bad and good and it can be really hard to listen to and watch. I feel like those shows are more about trying to watch a train wreck happen on stage. When you really have talented people competing against each other you get to see amazing work happen. Drama can still happen, but the show is better when it is about the work. So here is a little exploration to the type of reality shows that I think work best.
Seeing the Process of Creation
These are most of the ones that I watch, it is usually where people are using their talent and we get to see how they go through the process of creation. This usually means that they already have some level of talent, so it is not necessarily seeing someone with no experience in the field. Some of my favorite shows are ones where we actually watch the creation happen and really get an understanding of the progress.
Project Runway and Face Off are great examples of these types of shows. On Project Runway you really get to see the process for trying to create new ideas in fashion. See the process of transformation and taking an idea and actually make it a reality. The inspiration that people take from the city, their lives, music, color, etc, and seeing how they have translated those ideas to clothing is really incredible. Sometimes I do not like what people show, but fashion is kind of like art in that it is kind of subjective. At the same time the interesting part is seeing the process from start to finish.
On the other hand you have Face Off which is a fantastic show and I really wish I got to watch more of. It is professional special effects make up artists contests. They are given the story or creature creation and then they have to figure out how to build it. They have to create molds, build body suits, and then paint everything. They are sculptors, fashion, painters, and run the gamut of artistic talent to create a whole look. It is amazing how they can take all these pieces and layers and suddenly turn a regular person into these creatures.
Again, the important element with these shows is to really see the process of how you get from nothing to something incredible.
So this is one that you do not necessarily see the progress, but you get to see people doing amazing feats. The difference between this and I think some other talent type shows is that as an audience we are watching because we want to see the awesome talent unfold, we are rooting for the contestants. I think on some of the other talent competitions we are waiting to see who falls on their face. I like ones where we really see the potential of people shine, but see them test themselves.
So You Think You Can Dance is a show that I see like this. It is a wide range of dancing training trying to make it as a professional dancer. They organize choreography of all different types of music and you get to watch people who come alive when they dance. When you get to watch people who can really dance it can be such an amazing thing to see.
The other example of this category that I love is American Ninja Warrior. Getting to watch people test the limits of their ability on an obstacle course that no American has actually finished is incredible. All I can think is that I would not even make it past the first part. These are people who push themselves further every day and this is the ultimate test of their ability. Again a wide range of abilities from professional trainers to hobby rock climbers. It is an even slate for everyone coming in and you want them to succeed.
So that is basically it. I have so many other things that I watch it is hard to really fit competition shows in the mix and my current cable options make that even harder. At the same time I do love when you get to watch how things happen. In competition shows it can sometimes feel bad that someone had to lose, but I think the competition is what makes it interesting. Someone has to be better, but the cooler part is seeing people doing amazing things. My guilty pleasure is America’s Next Top Model though and it is kind of talent, but also trashy.