Pseudo-Reality Shows?

“Pseudo-Reality Show” is a term that I have had to create to class a television show that pretends to be a documentary of some sort as the vehicle that allows the camera to capture the “goings on” in the show itself.  This hybrid docu-sitcom thing has made me realize something.  I believe that that the veil should not be broken if you need believability in your show.  “The Veil” that I am referring to is the barrier that allows the viewer to remain INVISIBLE and UNABLE to interact with the show itself.  These newer shows not only pierce said veil they erase the damned thing all together when they have Big Brother diary like sessions that expound on actions and the hilarity of the show.  Another thing that these Pseudo-Reality Shows do is look at the camera in a “Did you see that?” kind of way OR a “I am so embarassed” kind of way.  Both of wich are very effective in getting me to “share” in the moment.  It is a cheap way to get me to like/empathize with the character.  If you don’t know what I mean, here is a senario:

(Fade In From Commercial)
(Lead in Music Fades out)
CHARACTER 1 is discussing a topic with CHARACTER 2.
CHARACTER 2  says something that stuns CHARACTER 1.
CHARACTER 2 walks away.
CHARACTER 1 look into camera and blinks.

That’s it.

Did you notice that there is no dialogue in the above example?  “Why?” You ask.  YOU DON’T NEED IT! The blink by CHARACTER1 and the direct acknowledgment with the look into the camera that YOU experienced that with CHARACTER 1 is all you and the show need to make you, the viewer, relate to the CHARACTER and thereby making you like it.

This seemingly innocent device of making the viewer a cast member does not work on shows where the writing and acting can carry the weight of the plot while building attachment from the audience.  LOST will never have a character look into the camera and shrug as a means to say “Hey you in TV LAND, That was zany right?”

New shows to watch that are good who fit into the Pseudo-Reality Category:


Modern Family

Parks and Recreation

Watch em and see what ya think about them looking at you like you are there.  I find it great when its done well (MODERN FAMILY) comical when its used as sparingly (COMMUNITY) and annoying when its done every 5 minutes to drive home a lame joke (PARKS AND RECREATION).

I am sure there are more than these 3, but you get the point.

You make the call!

About Matt

I was.

Posted on January 22, 2010, in culture, documentary, My World, tv, USA and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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