Back in the day, reality shows were so fresh and fun, no one was too concerned with production manipulation, also known as “scripted reality”. If MTV told Puck where to stand, eh, big deal! We were far more interested in his next argument with Pedro! The more reality programming there was, the more noticeable the setups were; a doctor who was clearly reading lines or maybe a product placement. Still, no big deal, it certainly didn’t stop viewers from making reality shows the biggest thing on TV!
Eventually, some got fed up with the obvious intrusion of Those Who Know Better, and it wasn’t just viewers. When Steve Wozniack was on ‘Dancing with the Stars’, he got so flustered about the voting system, that he came out about it on Facebook. Woz wrote, “The producers play games to get viewers and don’t disclose the (voting) numbers. If they disclosed the numbers, it would be less of a game, but still suspect. If tomorrow, they claim I’m in the bottom 2 dance teams, including viewer votes, I believe that’s an outright lie.” Yikes!
‘Duck Dynasty‘ is the highest rated reality show on cable television…ever. The forth season premiere was watched by 12 million people in the United States. The same people that make FOX News the highest rated cable news channel flock to ‘Duck Dynasty‘. In other words, they have the whole God and Country market down pat! When family patriarch Phil Robertson went public with complaints that A & E was omitting the words “in Jesus’ name” during the family prayer, viewers had fits. It seemed like the family was committed to real reality, so it was curious when the way obvious setups started!
In an interview on the ‘Today‘ show, host Matt Lauer asked, “Scripted reality, right? You guys call it, I think, ‘guided reality’? What does that mean? What’s the guided part?” After a bit of back and forth, ‘Dynasty‘ favorite, Si Robertson admitted he’s handed a script, although he says he ignores it (he totally would). Jase Robertson explains, “They come up with ideas and we just get to be ourselves in the situation.” Did you see the episode where Uncle Si “accidentally” runs into Willie’s truck and ends up disabled in a scooter? Yeah, the authenticity of the show is really running thin! If viewers are already bothered by not-so-real-reality, the next big thing might just flop!
It should come as no surprise to find that the people behind ‘Duck Dynasty‘, Gurney Productions, are bankrolling (in part) ‘LeAnn and Eddie‘ (working title) for VH1. The program “will chronicle how singer-actress Rimes and actor Cibrian navigate their careers while also co-parenting Eddie’s two sons.” It’s no secret that this couple has a black cloud hanging over them! They were both married to other people, him with two young sons, when they embarked on an affair and eventually married. Rimes has tons of bad press for bizarre rantings on Twitter and her frequent attacks on Eddie’s ex-wife, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, Brandi Glanville. Perfect people for TV!
One little thing about ‘LeAnn and Eddie‘…they’re calling it “scripted reality”, but it’s like no reality show you’ve ever seen! Why? Actors. That’s right, actors! When they announced that actors would play Eddie Cibrian’s sons it was understandable. Back when Glanville started on RHOBH, he took her to court to stop her from having the boys on the show. So, having actors on his show solved the problem of looking like a big hypocrite. But then they announced they have an actress to play Glanville, another to play LeAnn’s best friend, and in a hilarious twist, Glanville says one of her good friends has been hired to play someone on the show, and LeAnn doesn’t know who it is!
All fun gossip aside, this is pretty strange, isn’t it? If viewers end up liking it, there’s sure to be more of these down the line. It could start a whole new genre of programming, actors alongside real people. While viewers complain about the setups and scripts, they still watch! Just think of the possibilities, famous folk can tell all their juicy gossip without actually outting those involved! Who knows where it could go? ‘LeAnn and Eddie‘ might garner some great ratings because of their bad press, you know the whole train wreck deal! But, with only six, half-hour episodes ordered, it has to find its niche pretty fast.
What do you think about this new style of “scripted reality”? Is a show starring one of the most hated celebs out there a good way to test the model? Will you watch?
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