May 27, 2015

Josh Duggar and the end of reality TV

Damian PennyRebel Blogger

When I watch Tim Burton's Ed Wood, I know that the phony psychic who introduced Plan 9 From Outer Space wasn't actually busted for child pornography.  When I watch Lethal Weapon or one of its dozen-odd sequels, I know Riggs isn't a racist anti-Semite with anger issues.

But in the unlikely event I see another episode of 19 Kids and Counting, I'll know that the oldest son did indeed molest some of his sisters when he was younger, and that his seemingly upstanding parents tried to sweep it under the rug.

Unless you've spent the last few days in a theatre showing Hot Pursuit or some other desolate place completely cut off from all human contact, you know that Josh Duggar's teenaged sexual indiscretions have finally come to light. (If you lurked on the late, lamented Television Without Pity message boards you knew that Josh had committed some kind of "sin in the camp" years ago, though not that some of his own sisters were among the victims.)

In other words, everything we've seen on the Duggar family reality show, a mainstay of TLC's schedule for the past decade, was a complete fraud. And, really, aren't all of these "reality" shows completely fraudulent?  Even when a traumatic crime isn't being covered up, we aren't seeing how these "characters" really live, but what they and/or the producers want us to to see. They aren't documentaries but propaganda, though the line between the two can be blurry.

It's easy to understand why TV networks have turned to reality shows - they're cheap to make, and you don't gave to build sets or pay writers - but the Duggar fiasco also shows how they can be risky. As soon as something like this comes out, the program is completely ruined.  (See also another now-cancelled TLC geek show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.)

Call me optimistic, but maybe this is a fad that's running its course, thanks in no small part to Netflix and other streaming services which are concentrating on high-quality scripted programming.  I hope Josh Duggar's victims have gotten (and are still receiving) the help they need, and that he's truly become the changed person he insists he has. I also hope this is really the end for their show and others like it.


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commented 2015-06-02 18:52:51 -0400
Nicely said Karen Morse- I agree. You don’t like it- don’t watch, plain and simple. I enjoy rebel media but especially as it concerns the megaphone – sadly there seems to be a more liberal bias with the writers and some more than others.
commented 2015-05-28 23:02:05 -0400
That is my favorite show. Who dug this bullshit up on poor old Josh and have drug him through the mud. Young adolesant males that attempt to feel up their sisters and cousins are pretty common. It happened to me and I don’t think it was tramatic. I think this is really a fight of the non-Christians against Christitanity. We all do things that a wrong in our life. God does forgive the repentant. If the Duggars aren’t your lifestyle then don’t watch the show. There are plenty of other shows where people boink on the first date and where woman are treated like sex objects or shows that depict the great homosexual lifestyle for people who hate the Duggars.
commented 2015-05-28 11:45:10 -0400
no …they will just put more of an effort in digging for the background and than using that to help exploit the script at later dates…scripted reality is hear to stay, just ever evolving.
commented 2015-05-27 16:09:49 -0400
Well said, Damian. I am very much in agreement.
commented 2015-05-27 15:33:25 -0400
Reality TV has been a blight on civilization for quite some time now. Maybe it has finally jumped the shark? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? Forgive my indulgence of posting one of my favourite quotes, this one from Carl Sagan:

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”