One topic that has come up somewhat regularly here at the TV critics’ press tour in L.A. has been, surprise, reality television, as critics ask questions or joke about its eventual demise, prompting me to consider hurling candy from the little bowls on our tables at their heads. But I don’t, because the candy is good, and at least those questions are better than the many embarrassing questions that have been asked, like those about actors’ hairstyles.
During a Starz press conference for its adaptation of Crash, a critic asked, “With a lot of the movies now being made on television shows, is this a new trend that possibly could maybe help the industry get rid of some of the reality shows by taking movies and making television shows on them?”
Don Cheadle, who I now love even more, said, “Reality shows are here to stay. They’re cheap. They’re popular.”
During AMC’s Mad Men press conference, star Jon Hamm took a dig at reality TV that also acknowledged its ubiquity and inevitability. “I’ve been so proud of this thing from the beginning that to have it sort of validated and vindicated in the greater sort of world of television criticism and the culture is amazing, and it makes you feel like John Slattery said it once that, like, ‘You’re not crazy.’ Like, okay, other people like good stuff, too. You know, I’m not trying to shit on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ But it feels like, okay, good, we’re not all lunatics. I’ll be on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ next,” he said.
On Sunday, talking about his upcoming PBS broadcast of his stage performance of Cyrano de Bergerac, a play that’s based on a true story, Kevin Kline made an (unintentional) argument for reality TV: “fact is always more interesting than fiction,” he said.
Finally, on Friday, David Lyle, the president of the Fox Reality Channel, began his remarks by noting that “in 2002, there were 27 new reality shows introduced to broadcast and 22 new reality shows introduced to cable. This year, there will be 32 new reality shows on broadcast and 140 on cable. Reality is no longer alternative programming. In fact, it is the cornerstone of modern television, like it or not.”
Some critics definitely don’t like it, which is incomprehensible considering some of the incredible unscripted shows coming up, but if they still haven’t caught on eight years later, I can’t imagine they ever will.