unions want to organize reality TV.

unions want to organize reality TV.
Reality TV shows are notoriously cheap to produce; even with a $1 million prize and production costs, that’s nothing compared to the eight bajillion dollars each Friends cast member rakes in for a 22-minute episode. The New York Times says “an hour of prime-time reality programming for a major network costs about $700,000,” compared to “$1 million to $2 million an hour” for a drama. That’s part of the reason why there are so many reality TV shows on the air–that, and people love to watch other people eat eyeballs, fight, cry, and backstab. Enter the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which says “those who work on unscripted programs should receive health insurance, pensions, overtime pay and other benefits.” They’ve already successfully unionized Big Brother; other unions, such as The Writers Guild of America and I.A.T.S.E.’s Motion Picture Editors Guild, are also getting in on the action. Of course, as the Times points out, “If the producers have to pay overtime and union wages, and to make contributions to health and pension programs, the shows will be more expensive to produce. That could make them less appealing to the networks, which have come to rely on reality shows as bargains for their prime-time schedules.” So, reality TV people, suck it up and buy some band-aids and save your loose change, because we need our Survivor.

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.


Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.