You have to admire the Fox Network. When it first started, some people said Fox was a cheesy sleaze-bucket operation that sought to make a quick buck by pushing low-budget programming that often challenged the notions of good taste.
No one watched.
So the Fox Network tried higher-end programming that rivaled what the big networks produced.
With a few exceptions (like "The X-Files" and "The Simpsons") no one watched.
So then they decide to go with more mindless sleaze and brain-numbing programs. We got "American Idol," "Joe Millionaire" and some show that gives us man vs. beast competitions, including a team of 30 little people racing against an elephant while pulling jet airliners with ropes.
Thanks in part to shows like these, Fox is now one of the nation's top television networks -- and reality shows are a never-ceasing staple of modern television.
It's not entirely fair to blame this on Fox. After all, CBS scored the first big reality show hit with "Survivor" and MTV has been doing "The Real World" for several years -- several long, whiny years. Since those shows took off, every network has pounded at least a few reality show nails into the coffin of American television.
When you look back at classic sitcoms, even the cosmically moronic ones, you can at least remember what they were about.
With reality shows, people spend the same amount of time watching television as before, sometimes more. Only when it's all over, we've taken in nothing of value. It's like carbon monoxide.
Watching "MASH" was a half-hour commitment. Now, to find out which punk prima donna advances to the next level in "American Idol," you have to watch an hour and a half of programming each week.
People are compelled to watch because they're used to watching television and now the power of television is being focused on people without talent, just like them.
Read a book, people. Or at least show your brain that you love it by giving it something a little meatier to watch -- you know, like "Mr. Belvedere" or "CHIPs."
-- The Daily Tribune
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