critic Heather Havrilesky: reality TV offers a “chance to glimpse something true.”

critic Heather Havrilesky: reality TV offers a “chance to glimpse something true.”
Salon’s TV critic Heather Havrilesky writes a thorough, well-argued, well-supported, possibly definitive defense of reality TV, basically telling those arrogant high-brow twits who bitch about reality TV to shut up—but in 2,933 words. Along the way, she dissects what’s wrong with TV today, concluding that “it’s not the basic format of the traditional sitcom or drama that’s to blame, it’s the lack of original, high-quality writing.” On some reality TV shows, she writes, we get “exactly the kinds of fresh, surprising characters that most sitcoms and dramas lack.” She credits Mark Burnett with providing a quality alternative to “claustrophobic, repetitive, aesthetically irritating shows” that are “the work of sensationalistic producers churning out trash for a quick buck.” Her conclusion sums it all up, which is a good thing for a conclusion to do: “Lowbrow or not, all most of us want from TV is the chance to glimpse something true, just a peek at those strange little tics and endearing flaws that make us human. While the networks’ safe little formulas mostly seem devoid of such charms, reality shows have the power to amuse, anger, appall, surprise, but most of all, engage us. Isn’t that the definition of entertainment?”

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