How low can reality shows go

Annie Clarkson - Editorial Page Editor

Annie Clarkson – Editorial Page Editor

Annie Clarkson

I hate to confess that I watch reality shows. None have anything to do with reality, yet they have become so popular that there seems to be a reality show for every interest – singing, dancing, dieting, dating, modeling, cooking, boxing, filmmaking, wife-swapping, celebrity rehab – the list grows every day. With the exception of American Idol, I hate all of these shows, and yet I can’t look away.

But there’s a new show this season that sinks the reality show genre to a new all time low. “Moment of Truth” is Fox’s new show that hooks contestants up to lie detectors and asks the most embarrassing personal and intimate questions. A panel of the contestant’s family, spouse and best friend are on the set, presumably to make the contestant squirm. Instead, they ask questions which are destined to destroy those relationships and ruin careers.

They ask questions like: “Have you ever padded your undergarments?” “Do you think your best friend’s wife is more attractive than your own wife?” “Do you think your mother is fat?” And then the camera closes in on the face of the loved one whose pain and humiliation are being exposed on national television, all so that the contestant can win thousands of dollars for telling the truth. The producers do their research and know exactly which buttons to push.

Just try to imagine how many relationships would end if a polygraph beeper went off every time you were asked the question, “Does this make me look fat?”

I swore I’d never watch this show again after the first episode and then tuned in again the following week, like I was watching a train wreck. The only thing that would justify watching this show would be putting politicians in the hot seat.

As if that’s not bad enough, I saw a shocking ad for the next reality show – just a typical dating show, except the bachelorette used to be a man, and it appears that a whole stable of studly men want to date her. What a terrible way to get 15 minutes of fame.

Sadly, reality shows were not affected by the recent writers’ strike, even though I would swear that some shows like ABC’s “The Bachelor” are scripted (poorly). I can’t even imagine what’s next in reality TV. Children have already been exploited in the controversial reality show, “Kid Nation.”

Television programming has seen radical changes in the last 20 years. I think I’ll just set my television on TVLand and throw away the remote control.