WBEZ | reality tv http://www.wbez.org/tags/reality-tv Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en You don't have to be smart to have your own show http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/you-dont-have-be-smart-have-your-own-show-106849 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/what-would-ryan-lochte-do-6.jpg" style="float: right; height: 240px; width: 320px; " title="Lochte's new reality show premiered Sunday, April 21 on E! (NBCUniversal)" />Olympic swimmer and apparent babe magnet <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/04/24/178784318/ryan-lochte-and-the-easy-life-of-the-professional-public-dummy" target="_blank">Ryan Lochte</a> has a new reality show called&nbsp;<em>What Would Ryan Lochte Do</em>? In the first episode, he reminisces about his glory days, makes a half-hearted attempt at dating and steals his brother&#39;s toothbrush. So, he basically does&nbsp;<a href="http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/04/21/what-would-ryan-lochte-do-recap/" target="_blank">nothing</a>.</p><p>&quot;Seriously, how are they gonna get enough material?&quot; asked anchor Mike Jerrick after an <a href="http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/04/19/ryan-lochte-interview-anchors-laughing-video/" target="_blank">unintentionally hilarious</a>&nbsp;interview with Lochte on <em>Good Day Philly</em>.</p><p>As a full first season of WWRLD looms ahead, I ask myself the same question. &nbsp;</p><p>Over the past twenty years, beginning with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_World" target="_blank"><em>The Real World</em></a>&nbsp;in 1992 and skyrocketing with the U.S. version of&nbsp;<em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(US_TV_series)" target="_blank">Survivor</a>&nbsp;</em>in 2000,&nbsp;reality TV has become a staple of American television. However, the clever concept of filming &quot;real people in real situations&quot; has lost much of its magic since then, with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.today.com/id/30092600/ns/today-entertainment/t/just-how-real-are-reality-tv-shows/#.UXoFab8lbFI" target="_blank">clearly scripted</a> (and often mind-numbingly awful) reality shows like <em>Jersey Shore</em>&nbsp;and <i>My Super Sweet Sixteen</i>&nbsp;depleting brain cells for generations to follow. &nbsp;</p><p>Why do we enjoy watching ridiculously&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/here-are-the-best-dumb-things-ryan-lochte-said-on-his-r-476828120" target="_blank">dumb people</a>&nbsp;make complete fools of themselves? Do we relish tearing apart the Jessica Simpsons, Real Housewives and Honey Boo Boos because mocking them makes us feel better about our own lives?</p><p>In my opinion, the worst reality TV offenders are&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Mom" target="_blank"><em>Teen Mom</em></a>&nbsp;(because you have to make it on <em>16&nbsp;and Pregnant </em>first),&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toddlers_and_Tiaras" target="_blank"><em>Toddlers &amp; Tiaras</em>&nbsp;</a>(in what universe is dressing your 5-year-old like a <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/09/07/ptc-slams-toddlers-tiaras-for-pretty-woman-costume/" target="_blank">street prostitute</a> considered cute and in good taste?),&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeping_Up_With_The_Kardashians" target="_blank"><em>Keeping Up with the Kardashians&nbsp;</em></a>(why are these people famous again?)&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_biggest_loser" target="_blank">The Biggest Loser</a>&nbsp;</em>(because losing weight that quickly is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/business/media/25loser.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">horribly unsafe</a> at any size, period).</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" face="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Face-Off-s4-eric-f.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 330px; float: left; " title="Eric F. works on a creature for the SyFy reality series &quot;Face Off.&quot; (SyFy) " />Luckily, not all reality TV shows are hackneyed and irresponsible fodder for the masses. Competition series like <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_chef" target="_blank">Top Chef</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_Ink" target="_blank">Best Ink</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_Off_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Face Off&nbsp;</a></em>and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_runway" target="_blank"><em>Project Runway</em></a> feature contestents who excel in a certain field (for these shows: gourmet cooking, tattoo art, prosthetic makeup and fashion design, respectively) and rely on pure talent in order to succeed. As skilled professionals, they are fascinating to watch, not to mention wholly deserving of the platform they&#39;ve been given.</p><p>I will admit that the&nbsp;singing and dancing shows can be a bit cheesy at times, but at least the starry-eyed hopefuls on <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_idol" target="_blank">American Idol</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voice_(U.S.)" target="_blank">The Voice</a>&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_You_Think_You_Can_Dance" target="_blank"><em>So You Think You Can Dance</em></a> showcase talents that extend beyond the realm of petty arguments and party fouls.</p><p>Other inspiring and thought-provoking examples of reality TV-done right include&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undercover_Boss" target="_blank"><em>Undercover Boss</em></a>, <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_amazing_race" target="_blank">The Amazing Race</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadliest_catch" target="_blank">Deadliest Catch</a>&nbsp;</em>and my newest favorite, <em><a href="http://www.nola.com/tv/index.ssf/2013/03/animal_planets_hit_reality_tv.html" target="_blank">Pit Bulls and Parolees</a>&nbsp;</em>on Animal Planet.&nbsp;I&#39;ll take adorable animal rescues over <em>The Bachelor</em> any day, thank you very much.&nbsp;</p><p><em>What are your favorite (and least favorite) reality shows? Leave a comment below, send me a tweet&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>&nbsp;or join the conversation on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/you-dont-have-be-smart-have-your-own-show-106849 Reality TV: A shortcut to the American Dream? http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/reality-tv-shortcut-american-dream-103497 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jesse-0348-Edit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65257026&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false&amp;color=ff7700" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Tales of rags to riches have a history in television--but the last decade created a whole new stage for young people wanting to show off their talents.<br /><br />Every year, tens of thousands of Americans try out for talent-related reality shows. In March, <em>The Voice</em> drew more than 6,000 hopefuls to Chicago auditions alone. And for these people, it&rsquo;s changing the idea of the American Dream.</p><p>Take <a href="http://www.jessecampbell.com/" target="_blank">Jesse Campbell</a>, for example. He&rsquo;s a preacher&rsquo;s son who grew up in modest Maywood, Illinois. But earlier this year he stepped into the national spotlight when he made it to the finals of <em>The Voice</em>. Though the NBC hit was not his first go at talent-based reality TV. In fact, he&rsquo;s tried out for a few shows.</p><p>The first was <em>America&rsquo;s Got Talent</em>. He was rejected but knew there were plenty of other shows and so he kept trying.</p><p>&ldquo;I stood out there, all day, all night at those auditions. And now I see why they call them the cattle call,&rdquo; Campbell recalled.</p><p>In one audition, Campbell says he hadn&rsquo;t even reach the second note of his song when one of the judges made him stop.</p><p>&ldquo;And the judge said, &lsquo;Very very nice, but no,&#39;&quot; Campbell recalled, &quot;So, I went about my business, and said, &#39;well I (still) believe this is a platform for me. Maybe the judge was just having a bad day.&rdquo;</p><p>So, Campbell saved up his money up and flew to another city to audition. That time, he didn&rsquo;t even make it past the first round.</p><p>He kept trying, though, because his chances at making it any other way were slim.</p><p><strong>Searching for fame and fortune</strong></p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s road to success has been a bumpy one, to say the least. After performing in churches, he signed on to Capitol Records and moved to Los Angeles where he met his wife--but the happiness was short-lived.<br /><br />&ldquo;The career did not take off as I hoped, and therefore the wife did,&rdquo; Campbell said.</p><p>One person who didn&#39;t taken off, though was his three-year-old daughter.</p><p>In 2003, Campbell hit rock bottom: He and his daughter ended up living in their car; they parked it in a 24-hour grocery market in Santa Monica, California.</p><p>&ldquo;Because it was open 24 hours a day, I figured people would probably think I was coming out or waiting for someone,&rdquo; Campbell reasoned, &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s where we slept for two nights.&rdquo;</p><p>Campbell wondered what he was doing, putting his daughter&#39;s safety and comfort at stake. He realized he could reach out to friends and family for help.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s family and pastor gave him money to get by and offered him a place to stay--but work was sporadic. He performed in churches, waited tables, did some landscaping and sang on the streets of Santa Monica. All the while, Campbell didn&rsquo;t give up on his childhood dreams: to have a modest home for his children.</p><p>He auditioned for <em>The Voice&rsquo;s</em> first season and didn&rsquo;t make the cut. But when he tried out again for the second season which aired earlier this year, <em>The Voice</em> said &quot;yes.&quot;<br /><br />&ldquo;I looked over and saw my daughter, her eyes lit just so brightly and she was just so happy because she was just there with me as I sang on the street, not even a year ago. And now here she is watching daddy on television,&rdquo; Campbell said.</p><p><strong>A Shortcut to the American Dream?&nbsp;</strong></p><p>These shows have made an impact on the American Dream for some young people. Sociologist Karen Sternheimer wrote a book called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Celebrity-Culture-American-Dream-Mobility/dp/0415886791" target="_blank"><em>Celebrity Culture and The American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility</em></a>. She says the glut of reality television during this recession has produced a new jackpot.</p><p>She says that when the more traditional ways of having economic success or even economic stability seem impossible, there&rsquo;s always the fantasy of the overnight success. She points to the lottery and reality shows, and even posting videos on YouTube as examples of how people think they can strike it rich, quickly.</p><p>&ldquo;I think in recent years, these examples have been kind of like a last hope when people have trouble finding a job. Reality shows have really proliferated in recent years and there are more people who we might believe those people we see on television are just like us. And so in a strange way it seems like there are more opportunities,&rdquo; Sternheimer explained.</p><p>And in fact, the Internet has created stars even without the help of television. Think of Justin Bieber who was discovered on YouTube: He&rsquo;s the son of a single mom and he earned $108 million dollars in just the past two years. But his experience is a fluke.</p><p>Because most times, the amount of money and time invested by reality TV contestants doesn&rsquo;t pay off.&nbsp;</p><p>Sternheimer said research shows people on reality shows make an average of $1,500 a stint.</p><p>Sternheimer says the Internet and reality TV create the perception that we&rsquo;re closer to celebrities and becoming a star seems more within reach. Some of the more popular reality shows like <em>American Idol</em>, <em>The Real World</em> and <em>Bad Girls Club</em> limit participants over the age of 30. That means young people are especially vulnerable in some cases.</p><p>Sometimes, television shows these young people engaging in unprofessional behavior like drinking heavily or using drugs and that would have serious job consequences in the future.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s journey thus far has not brought him to riches from rags just yet. But he&rsquo;s hopeful.</p><p>&ldquo;These shows have great potential to bring about economic mobility, because it&rsquo;s the exposure and what you do with it, it&rsquo;s up to you. It has really made a big difference in my life simply because I can now do more than before because more people are aware of what it is that I have to offer, Campbell said.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s main income comes from live performances right now. He&rsquo;s investing those earnings into the album he&rsquo;s currently making, while shopping it around. He&rsquo;s also trying to get into commercial singing. And since he once before fell on his way up the economic ladder, he emphasizes education, hard work and perseverance for his daughter, Soraya.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="315" id="nbc-video-widget" scrolling="no" src="http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1383126" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/reality-tv-shortcut-american-dream-103497 Tracking the life of the average American female through her reality TV show opportunities http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-04/tracking-life-average-american-female-through-her-reality-tv-show <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" ap="" class="image-original_image" mary="" series.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP07061208540.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 413px; " title="Contestants face off in WE TV's cake eating contest in June of 2007. The 15 brides faced off in Times Square for a grand prize of $25,000 to kick off the fourth season of the cable channel's 'Bridezillas' series. (AP/Mary Altaffer)"></div><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7510545334173397">AGE 0-14: </span><em>Toddlers &amp; Tiaras</em><br><br>AGE 15: <em>My Super Sweet 16</em><br><br>AGE 16: <em>16 and Pregnant</em><br><br>AGE 17-19: <em>Teen Mom</em><br><br>AGE 18-25:<em> The Real World</em><br><br>AGE 25-27: <em>Bad Girls Club</em><br><br>AGE 27-29: <em>The Bachelor</em><br><br>AGE 29-31:<em> Bridezillas</em><br><br>AGE 31-35: <em><a href="http://www.doronofircasting.com/casting/now-casting-pregzillas">Pregzillas</a></em><br><br>AGE 35-45:<em> Intervention</em><br><br>AGE 45-55: <em>Hoarders</em><br><br>DEATH: <em>Storage Wars </em></p></p> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 10:31:55 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-04/tracking-life-average-american-female-through-her-reality-tv-show Louisa Chu's accidental stardom http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-bourdain/louisa-chus-accidental-stardom <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/louisa-chu-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Before she was the host of jet setting TV shows like Gourmet&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie" _mce_href="http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie" target="_blank"> Diary of a Foodie</a>, <a href="http://www.movable-feast.com/" _mce_href="http://www.movable-feast.com/" target="_blank">Louisa Chu</a> was a recent graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, staging at some of the world's best restaurants, like <a href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/" _mce_href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/" target="_blank">Alinea</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Bulli" _mce_href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Bulli" target="_blank">El Bulli</a>. One day she received a call asking for help scouting locations for a new show hosted by Anthony Bourdain, by then well known for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Confidential-Adventures-Culinary-Underbelly/dp/0060934913" _mce_href="http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Confidential-Adventures-Culinary-Underbelly/dp/0060934913" target="_blank">his behind the scenes look at the not-so-nice world of professional cooking</a>.&nbsp; Chu remarked that &ldquo;this is the kind of opportunity you pay for!&rdquo; and agreed to be a location scout for the very first episode of <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain" _mce_href="http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain" target="_blank">No Reservations</a>, set in Paris.</p> <p>Chu endeavored to show Bourdain and his crew her version of Paris, starting with the famous meat hall at Rungis Market, but did not sign up to be on camera. That all changed when her informant/butcher canceled last minute, thrusting Chu into the limelight and launching her food-centric reality TV career. She told the story at a talk sponsored by the <a href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/" _mce_href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/" target="_blank">Culinary Historians of Chicago</a>, which you can hear in the audio excerpt posted above.</p><p>If you want to see the segment Chu recorded with Bourdain for <em>No Reservations</em>, there are some bootlegged clips on YouTube.&nbsp; The segment at Rungis Market <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b62RExoOGII&amp;feature=related" _mce_href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b62RExoOGII&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">starts around 6:25</a>, Louisa comes on around 8 min in. It continues <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-H3-YIYSZo&amp;feature=related" _mce_href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-H3-YIYSZo&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p><em>Dynamic Range</em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from <em>Chicago Amplified</em>&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Click <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=20753&amp;gsatype=amplified" _mce_href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=20753&amp;gsatype=amplified" target="_blank">here</a> to hear Chu&rsquo;s full talk, recorded by <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_AMP_Archive.aspx" _mce_href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_AMP_Archive.aspx" target="_blank">Chicago Amplified</a>, and click <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278">here</a> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast.</p></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-bourdain/louisa-chus-accidental-stardom