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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