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Dealing with reality

Just when I thought I thought I could take a stand against all those idiotic reality television shows, one comes along that I think I could watch on a regular basis. After The Real World and then more recently Survivor, everyone began cashing in on the fact that real people want to see "real people" do extraordinary things on television.

I liked Survivor. I still like Survivor, but all the hoopla that followed has been ridiculous. The Bachelor is deplorable. And while Wife Swap has been funny on occasion, it still represents a sad commentary on what Americans love to watch -- the train wrecks in other people's lives.

My experience with reality television started with MTV many years ago. As a teenager, I loved to watch The Real World and Road Rules, but luckily I grew out of that horrific phase in my life. Now those shows seem full of whiny brats that come to blows on the topic of who gets more drunk.

I have often thought that the public's bent toward partaking in such base entertainment is shameful. But I happened to be watching Monday night on the only channel I get on my TV when a highly publicized new show aired for the first time.

So many people have seen the advertisements touting this show from the creators of Survivor and The Apprentice. They were everywhere. I disregarded it as hype about a worthless show that would make the 15 people who didn't win its grand prize feel like total losers.

And while I sat there glued to the television, I didn't change my mind. But I was glued, nonetheless. For those who haven't figured it out yet, I was watching the Mark Burnett boxing reality show The Contender.

Just as a side note, one of the contenders had committed suicide just weeks prior to the show's first airing. Unfortunately, that was probably a ratings booster. They haven't mentioned the tragedy in the show yet, but I'm sure it will come out during his episode.

OK, so I don't watch much TV because I just don't have time, nor a good enough antenna either. But when the second episode came on, I was there. The drama of these fighters trying to provide a better life for their families is fascinating.

Kids are running around everywhere in the scenes depicting the families, but these big tough boxers all seem so gentle and caring away from the ring. That's funny because they are so macho and full of themselves in the gym.

Even though it's got the same cheesy format of so many other reality shows, I still think this one is different. Maybe it's the boxing fan in me coming out. After all, there is a world class middleweight bout at the end of every episode.



Web posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005











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