Reality or Not?

This morning, while looking at the blubs featured on the TV Guide Channel (my better half is fascinated by this channel and sometimes actaully watches it), I saw that they spent a few minutes talking about so-called "reality" TV. They noted that, for instance, many of last week's highest-rated shows were hits like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, and so on.

My question, though, is this: what's real about any of these shows? Seriously, am I the only one who sees these programs as nothing more than glorified game shows? Let's see-- bring in various people from different walks of life with no significant acting or media exposure, have them participate in goofy contests and skill-tests, and at the end give the winners a prize. I could just as easily be describing The Price is Right as I could The Amazing Race.

Indeed, as others have already observed, the hour that we see each week of, for example, the afore-mentioned Amazing Race, is often distilled from hundreds out hours of footage. With that much material, producers and editors can easily work up drama and suspense-- or create heroes and villains-- in ways that don't have much bearing on the actual events (that is, reality) as they were filmed.

I have no problems with such shows-- indeed, they seem to be the next logical step in our voyeuristic culture. But it bugs me that marketing types have succeeded in their packaging, and that no one seems able to call them what they are!!