Grissom: Bring back the sitcom


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Movie production of family in living room

Megan Grissom

Like many Americans, my little brothers are obsessed with the lives of three dark-haired California girls — the Kardashians. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, along with their fame-obsessed mother Kris, let cameras follow them everywhere, forfeiting all privacy in exchange for their name appearing in every gossip column from New York City to Los Angeles. Am I the only one who does not find this lifestyle appealing? Oddly enough, the Kardashians are not the only attention-greedy individuals out there willing to share with the world their most intimate secrets.

The genre that is reality TV has split, now serving as a mother genre to a number of daughter genres. We see the family-friendly genre on TLC with shows like “19 (18? 20? Who can keep track anymore…) Kids and Counting.” MTV offers the PG-13 “Jersey Shore.” “The Bachelor” serves as a romantic comedy (or at least I think it’s a comedy.) Reality TV even has game shows such as “Big Brother.”

But, different as they may be, reality shows all have one thing in common — they are as fake as the three Kardashian sisters.

Merriam-Webster defines the word reality as “a real event, entity or state of affairs.” Let’s apply this definition to what we know as reality TV, starting with the Kardashians.

Do real people spend millions of dollars on a wedding only to divorce 72 days later? Do your sisters take you to get a butt X-ray to prove that you have not gotten implants? I have not heard of a single person who has had either of those things happen to them. I also don’t know any other family with 19 kids or any man who has more than a dozen girls fall madly in love with him at the same time. This being said, reality TV is not really “reality.”

Have you ever been watching one of the aforementioned shows and wondered, “Well, that’s a coincidence,” or “Where did that even come from?” That’s because, in many cases, reality TV is staged. Think about your own life. Do audience-captivating events occur often enough that you could fill an entire season with drama? Odds are this is not the case.

Personally, I follow just about the same schedule every day and if something exciting does find me, it is usually something that only my closest friends would want to know about. So why do the Kardashians live entertaining lives?

While it could be argued that the millions of dollars they make yearly glamourizes their lifestyle, I really do not think that is the case. The real difference between them and us is that they have expert publicists and producers that have the means to create a fabulous illusion. They can pick the theme of the show, set up conversations, arrange conflict and neatly package it all together in 30 minutes with a shiny bow on top.

But, of course, even the best producers run out of materials every once in a while, so what is the solution? They send the family on a vacation. How many vacations did the Gosselins go on before their show got the boot (and the real drama set in)? No real family goes on multiple vacations a year to exotic destinations. The show just needs a little boost, plus the preview promises fresh drama, so — naturally — people will tune in to see what happens.

Reality TV has taken stations by storm. The reason: People are bored with their own lives. Most of us do not see what the stars of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or “Jersey Shore” see every day. Our lives are typically pretty predictable, but do we really want to have such a shallow life? Or, more importantly, do we want other countries to think that America values what they see on our reality television shows? Not me.

I would much rather have others see the family values that we used to watch on “Full House” and “Growing Pains,” shows that provided role models (and no, Snooki is not a role model.) These are the kinds of shows that should be on the TV today, shows with more class and less … well, you know. It’s time that America ditches reality TV and brings back the sitcom.