Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Season's come and go, so do old favourites.

I have been waiting to blog about Big Brother for weeks, waiting to see how the show progressed. This season's big twist were the houseguests competing in duos and the return of favourite pairs. "Double Trouble" is continuing to be a battle between "The Veterans" and "The Newbies", and was, thankfully, much more exciting than last summer's season with Enzo a.k.a. "The Meow-Meow". I am rooting for the Vets, especially Jordan.

With the end of Big Brother we start to see the beginning of the new Fall shows and return of old favourites. Survivor will be back with Redemption Island and two old favourites, Ozzy Lusth and Coach Wade. I find that to be an odd combination as neither played together before, and they played very different from each other: "Ozzy is a tough competitor and, arguably, the best performer in challenges; Coach likes to think he's the best competitor" says Jeff Probst. That is a fair account.

Some old favourites from Survivor are competing on The Amazing Race: Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca, winners of Survivor: Africa and Survivor: Amazon. I can only hope we have a nicer but still tough Rob and Amber duo on our hands as the two race to win, but mainly I'm happy to see that Ethan is doing better after battling cancer. This makes the fourth team to have people from another reality show competing: Alison, and Jeff and Jordan from Big Brother; Rob and Amber from Survivor.

America's Next Top Model is finally catching up with the other reality television shows with an all-stars version. All-stars versions are a great way to catch up with old favourites, but could all these returning players be a sign that the major networks are trying to get old audiences to come back by featuring some of the most popular players?

As one of reality televisions most loyal and dedicated fans, I want CBS, NBC, ABC (I only saw a few episodes of Bachelor Pad, and was not impressed, but did catch up on what made Melissa crazy) and CW to keep casting new people and focus on the new strategies, rather than see Russell Hantz try to win for another time.

I'll be sure to blog more now that the new shows are out, but does anyone have any suggestions on what shows to watch this fall?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

I've decided to change some stuff about this blog.

Yes, this one here.

As it was originally started as a classroom assignment, I want to change it up here at It's Real to Me with this first of hopefully many consistent posts. I put reality television on hold to revisit an old friend Sex and the City. The show provides me with topics, situations and life choices to think about when I'm sitting and waiting for my next shift at RW. Carrie's inner monologues become my inner monologues, wondering about the commonality between a popular phrase or situation to my life. She always wonders, always asks a question for her weekly column, wondering about who she is and not just her sex life. So here's what I wonder right now: who do you think you are?

Who Do You Think You Are? is a hit NBC reality TV series that explores the ancestry of celebrities, all of who try to discover a secret from their past. Sarah Jessica Parker was the first celebrity to venture her own path into her predecessors in North America. The journey took her all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s. When she hit the end of her journey, she discovered her the link to Esther Dutch Elwell, who was accused but never tried of being a witch. There could have been acting, but I think this was shocking to Ms. Parker (and ironic that she played a witch in Hocus Pocus).

Watching that show always gets me wondering who I really am. Where do I come from? Who are my ancestors? Were there any major events my families were a part of? I know I come from a mixture of German, Scottish and Irish backgrounds, but there is so many closer roots to other European, American, and possibly other ancestries, that it is hard to know where exactly I come from. Research had to be done to ensure the producers of the show were getting celebrities with a semi-interesting to completely fascinating histories in order to make the show watchable.

I will investigate who I am, where my family is from, and what major events have impacted the direction in which my ancestors have taken. Maybe Ancestory.com will help me with my journey, but I know that writing this blog I am leaving a bit of history for my ancestors to know me by. Hi, future family members!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


What May has to offer in terms of reality television are the accumulating events that us watchers have been waiting for since the start of 2011-- Finales. The past two weeks have been filled with finales of my favourite shows, and I've been both pleased and disappointed in the results.

If you have not seen the Survivor, Amazing Race, Biggest Loser, Celebrity Apprentice or Dancing with the Stars finales, don't read!

Survivor: Redemption Island-- With the last four Murlonio, or Omepete standing, it was time to bring RI to an end. Matt, Mike, Grant and Andrea squared off in a final duel that would land one of them back in the game. I was surprised when Andrea outlasted the three men to gain a spot back in the game, but the twist of RI provided pointless as Andrea was just voted out after she got back (like her buddy Matt). The final three turned out to be Phillip, Natalie and Rob. For me it was a clear choice and I'm glad it was for the jury as well, Rob Mariano finally won a season of Survivor and we will hopefully not have to see him again (although I really enjoy him).

Amazing Race-- the show aired differently with four teams racing instead of the tradition three for a finale. Zev and Justin were out fourth in Brazil after falling behind during a road block where Zev had to perform in a street parade, and then switching detours at the last minute. The race to the finish line in Florida proved hard for Gary and Mallory as they struggled once again with a bad cab drive (this is how they landed a spot on this season, having had trouble in Omen with a cab driver the year before). It was a close race between the Globetrotters, and Jen and Kiesha, but I was glad to see the sisters make it to the finish line first. This makes them the second all-girl team to win the Amazing Race.

Biggest Loser-- first I must say every looked amazing when I watched the show last night. Glad to see they took the advice seriously and we didn't see too many people gain more weight back. I was pleased to see Jay be eliminated and Irene make it to the three, but it came down to the sisters, Olivia and Hannah. What a great place for sibling rivalry, on a scale to see who lost the most weight. I can just hear them say "no you're fatter" back and forth, but they both lost well over 100 pounds. Congrats to Olivia the opera singer for winning in the end! Dear Biggest Loser producers, give the white team another chance--that was a rip-off move for bringing them back just to send them away.

Celebrity Apprentice-- this was a disappointment for me. Trump, you need to write down who YOU want to win before the show starts so that you're not swayed to appease the audiences. Marlee Matlin lost to John Rich after running a successful event and advertising campaign, and John Rich, who is a musician, announced Def Leppard 15 minutes too early and had many other mistakes. I don't like how swayed this "captain of industry" can be. This finale, as well as the other Apprentice finales, are my least favourite to watch because Trump is an idiot.

Dancing with the Stars-- again, another disappointment but overall I think Kirstie won in life. Hines and Kym won the Mirror Ball Trophy after it came down to them versus Kirstie and Maks. I think Kirstie made the biggest transformation physically and emotionally, but the audience loved Hines. As my wonderful partner has pointed out, Maks is one of several pros who have not won the Mirror Ball Trophy but consistently makes it to the end. That man deserves more than a trophy though.

I will not be watching American Idol but good luck to the final two, Lauren and Scotty. Like Linda, my money's on Scotty to win. I say that because then Lauren will have the successful career.

With every finale there's always the promise to more premieres. So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother 13, and many other shows will be coming this summer. I'll be sure to keep up with them, and keep you up too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making it your own

I realize I haven't posted in 3 weeks now but I have a good excuse: I was on vacation. And what a vacation it was! It was a seven-day Caribbean cruise, visiting Cozumel, Belize, Honduras and Grand Cayman. The week away has caused me to think long and hard about my life as now I am no longer a student.

But before I get too deep into that I want to share my most recent encounter with reality TV, but it wasn't on-screen: The Amazing Cozumel Race. It's an Amazing Race-style race around Cozumel, solving clues and performing tasks to make it to the finish line. As the only team from the Carnival Legend boat, Team Canadudes, Phil and I had to represent, which meant I had to run. For those who don't know, I don't normally run. We ran from the starting point, at the post office, to the flag pole, solved clues in the Cozumel Historic Museum, ran to get a henna tattoo, snorkled in the Caribbean sea to find a sunken ship, solved another clue leading us back to the square, then mini-golf, a quick trip to a shop, then the finish line. It took us one hour and nine minutes to run three-and-a-half miles. Because of our hard work we tied for second and received a silver medal. Beat that my brothers who get all the sports awards!

What I loved about this is the organizers took the concept of the Amazing Race and made it their own, which is basically a scavenger hunt but encapsulates the whole city of Cozumel. They don't step on the toes of CBS and the producers of the Amazing Race, but I think using the name of one of the most popular reality television shows today and it continues to gain followers each year. Participating in this excursion has inspired Phil and I to start thinking about an Amazing Niagara Race or the Great Niagara Falls Adventure. Either way, taking the popularity of a television show and making it your own is a great way to combine two passions: reality television and interactive entertainment.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Not Ignoring American Idol

As the title suggests I am not ignoring American Idol--I just have nothing to say about the show.

I have been professing that I watch all reality television shows when that is not entirely true. My credibility may be shot, but I hate watching singing shows like American Idol. I watched the first couple seasons to see what the fuss was all about but after seeing the "idols" perform, I knew I did not idolize anyone from the show. Simon, Randy and Paula, at their peak, were hilarious and insightful; after a few years, Simon and Paula became bitter and it was not fun to watch. I will sit next to a railway track to see the trainwreck.

The success of the Idol contestants is not extremely high for a show that gets the top ratings in the United States. Besides the few that have succeed to tell their story, there are hundreds of others who are as talented that fall off the stage. Besides the regular 15 minutes each gets in the spotlight, what's the success in saying you were an American Idol contestant? Just as much success as saying you were a Canadian Idol contestant, I guess.

Right now the drama surrounding the shocking eliminations shows just how the voting system works for the show, which ruins the show. If the judges were smart, they would not have saved Casey Abrams and waited for Pia Toscano to be in danger. Look at Sanjaya Malakar: he outlasted many others to the disappointment of the judges and Seacrest, but it was America's decision.

It goes back to my bias against letting the fans vote, but talent competitions are different from adventure series. Rewarding the true victor should lead to their futher success, but if they are going to fade fast then it's the fault of the judges for selecting a dud.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Canada needs more reality TV

When I was 10 I wanted to be on the Canadian show "Uh-Oh", which (for those who don't remember) was a children's game show in which contestants spun a wheel, answered questions, played fun games, and got slime poured on them--how cool is that?!

When I was 13 I wanted to be on Survivor; at 14 I wanted to be on Big Brother; at 16 I wanted to be on The Amazing Race--do you see a pattern here? With the growth of reality television shows I want to be part of the phenomena as a contestant. It was not my 15 minutes or a guest spot on The King of Queens that pulled me into the trend, but it was the games themselves that have always intrigued me.

When I was 19 I wanted to learn to dance to be on So You Think You Can Dance or learn to cook and become a great chef to be on Top Chef. Now that these shows are offered in Canada, my talents are not honed in enough to be able to compete, but that's alright by me. I still want the chance to prove myself on one of the above shows but the producers of those shows own North American rights to the adventure shows, but only produce American content. In my eyes that's not fair, and somewhat discriminatory. Since Survivor's start in 2000 Canada has been watching carefully as the contestants outwit, outplay and outlast each other for the 13 week program, and the show always ranks in the top 10 each week. Last year's edition of Heroes vs. Villains saw the show ranking higher than the first round of the NHL playoffs-- doesn't that say something?

When Wipeout Canada was auditioning for its northern edition, I immediately applied and searched for fun things that could get me on the show. Sadly I did not make it but am excited to be watching the series, besides how tacky it is with the product placement and over-theatrics of the contestants. Top Chef Canada premieres tonight and I'll be watching the series, after each food so I don't get too hungry. But if these shows are making it to Canada it's time Mark Burnett gets off his high horse, stops picking contestants that no one likes (Fiji is all I'll say) and get some Canadians on there. Why not a Canada vs. United States battle? It'll show true patriotism on both teams and get great ratings between the two countries.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

All-Stars = Celebrity

For many reality television shows my favourite seasons are usually the "all-star" versions. Past contestants come back to compete once again for the chance to be the "sole survivor," "first-place team" or "final houseguest." In all forms of competition reality television, from outdoor adventure to cooking, there are all-star seasons, if there have been enough regular seasons to collect an all-star cast. A lot of people I have talked to ask why Survivor hasn't ever had a celebrity version of itself (the U.S. version hasn't, but many other countries have had a celebrity Survivor). I think the use of celebrities is a desperate attempt to regain the audiences once have.

Survivor hasn't had a celebrity version, but has had two "all-stars" and three seasons with returning castaways. Aren't these seasons celebrity versions of Survivor? Bringing back past contestants who garner a lot of media and public attention, like Rupert, Russell, Jerri and James, will draw in the money that CBS and Mark Burnett need to make the game stay alive. But are we not celebrating those who have played before by showcasing them once again? Just like in Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Mole, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here we are celebrating the characters we love from the previous seasons of the past Survivors. In the ten years of the show, the all-star seasons have gained the most media attention, in comparison to the first season. Season 20, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, ranks in the top five seasons of the hit series because there was a clear division of true human spirit: you either cheered for a hero or a villain. But, in all reality, you're cheering for your favourite Survivor celebrity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Soup...So Meaty

For those who aren't already, you should be watching The Soup, hosted by Community's Joel McHale. I was first introduced to this television show a couple years ago, as my partner loves "Spaghetti Cat," and I love the insight into the reality television shows that are currently airing. McHale offers a hysterical perspective on the show.

His most recent segments on Gold Rush Alaska (GRA) have made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. The terminology on GRA is closely linked to things one may hear at a gay bar: glory holes. This term is why McHale has named the segment "Gay Shows: Alaska Edition", not to be confused with "Gay Shows" which mostly features RuPaul's Drag Race. As someone who doesn't get all the American RTV shows, it's a great way to catch up on what's happening in the world. As a gay man, it doesn't offend me in the least bit; these shows are pure comedy in my opinion.

With the recent legal action between Cara and Gibson Reynolds, and McHale and the Soup, it's hard to say how the show will be affected. Radio programs, like 102.1 the Edge constanly are under scruitany for their "defamatory remarks," but I say people should not take these remarks so seriously. The job of the host is to entertain, and in this case, inform on a hot topic that is in the news. If it's in the news, it's fair game. The couple was interviewed after losing their first born child, who only lived one day, and was told they could not use embryo screening to make a dwarf baby. In 2007 they were questioned for their ethical choices of this practice.

If you're going to be in the public eye for something that poses controversy, then you need to be ready for the backlash you will receive. I'm sure the Reynoldses received positive support, but McHale and others are using what the public give them. I'm sure the contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race and the men of Gold Rush Alaska are not going to be suing The Soup anytime soon--it's publicity for them.

Google The Soup or Cara and Gibson Reynolds to find more stories. Watch The Soup Friday's at 10 p.m. on E!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Placing the blame

Besides Survivor, my favourite reality competition show is The Amazing Race (TAR). For me it's a true test that is based on luck and skill, and should be done without the dependence on others, except your teammate. Unlike other reality shows where you have to "trust" others to help you in this game, competitors on TAR should only depend on themselves to get further in the game.

Since the first season of TAR the reason for losing the race has been because of a blunder caused by the cab driver, the locals or wrong directions. My favourite reason for losing the race is when someone blames their teammate. This past Sunday didn't have Jaime or Cara, the NFL cheerleaders, placing the blame on each other but just bad luck. In the previous season they competed in, season 14, they lost because of a poor cab driver in Hawaii, ending in second place overall.

At the end of each leg, everyone who does poorly tries to find an excuse as to why it was not them who hurt their chances of winning or staying in the "front of the pack." But I wonder this: isn't it your fault as you are part of the same team. The best couple for who wronged whom was back in season one, Lenny and Karyn, who fought with each other so much that Karyn dumped Lenny on the finish mat when they were eliminated. Now that's class!

Like I said before, you cannot blame another for your loses. Just like in life, wins and loses are determined by your motivation and ability to succeed. Most of the time, teams are running for a chance to win the money. At one point or another, they re-evaluate their chances only to determine how important the grand prize really is. Those who get to the end and win do so by true determination; those who lose gave it their all and failed trying, or gave up half-way to the finish mat. Just don't blame the local citizens for their wrong directions, because it was you who chose to ask them.

To check out more TAR and other great reality TV blunders, check out MrTheamazingrace on youtube.

Monday, March 14, 2011

...then came Craftsman

Elisabeth enjoys Doritos and a Dew.
I want to get this blog post in before the next episode of Survivor and we have to meet a new Sears product. The immunity challenge last week involved Craftsman products from Sears, in which the castaways had to use a shovel, an ax, two saws, and a hammer to cut through the course's obstacles. It was the first time since Survivor Palau where the castaways used the products in the challenge. Typically the product placement occurs less-subtly in the rewards, where the castaways get Doritos, Charmin products, Coca-Cola, either a Ford, Saturn, Pontiac or Chevy. This was my favourite implementation of a product into a show.

Product placement is the lazy man's advertising. In all actuality, it's smart for producers to have the products in the show. Similar to the start of television soap operas when the housewife would use a certain brand of soap products to sell to the audience, reality television shows have jumped onboard to this form of advertising--they've even started to steer the cart.

It's Coke , Dawg.
Last year I wrote an essay on this topic, and I was not shocked to find that Survivor, the Biggest Loser (B.L.), and American Idol were the top three shows that used product placements. The placements are not subtle either: the top ten Idols in the first season appeared in a Ford commercial, and to this day the judges drink out of Coca-Cola cups; Survivor lets castaways win a call home on an Sprint phone, which also sponsors their website; the Biggest Loser trains the contestants in an Anytime Fitness gym, and the B.L. books, t-shirts and fitness materials are found throughout the campus.

It's just going to get stronger, as regular television shows are having small product placements appear. In movies it's second nature when no one realizes the reason a Mac in front of Alec Baldwin's naked body in "It's Complicated" was because Mac paid for the computer to be there. Apple ranked number one in product placements in movies in 2010; Apple appeared in 10 of the top films to rank number one in the box office, with 30 per cent share ("Shocker! Apple product placements dominate hollywood"). It's difficult to find a show out there, that hasn't ranked number one in ratings, to be without product placement. If you can find one, I'll shake your hand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First left Russell...

Russell Hantz
The best night of Survivor has occurred. Russell Hantz, the evilest villain in the history of the game, was finally eliminated from the game and we will never see him again. In his own words "I am done playing Survivor."

Natalie White beats Russell 7-2
Russell was first introduced to the Survivor world in 2009 during Survivor Samoa, and before the first episode Jeff Probst (see left of screen) deemed him "the best villain Survivor has ever seen." I have to agree with that statement: Russell burnt other's socks on the first night, dumped out all the water and made his fellow tribemates lives miserable. But through it all, he dominated the strategic part of the game. He lost his first season to Natalie White for being too villainous, but he did manage to eliminate the strong eight members of Galu.

Sandra beats Parvati 5-4; Russell got not votes
His second season in Survivor Heroes vs. Villains gave Russell another advantage in an all-stars game: no one had seen him play before because the episodes were just airing in the North America. I believe he would have gone much sooner if anyone had seen him play. Parvati Shallows, the runner-up of that season, had "heard" about Russell's game play and strategy through producers. Their alliance helped both get to the end, but it was Sandra Diaz-Twine that became a two-time winner of Survivor (her previous win was during 2003's Pearl Islands season).

The Tribe has Finally Spoken
Russell's downfall was that he had a sense of entitlement. He "believed" he was destined to win Survivor, and that it was "his game." In his first two appearances on Survivor, he was able to find the hidden immunity idol (a small idol that can be used to nullify votes when it is used at tribal council. It can only be used once and must be presented before the reading of the votes). While he plays the game well, he never plays to win.This is why none of these photos show Russell in the winning position, and why he is out third this round (second due to Redemption Island).

I am not a Russell supporter. I laughed tonight as he cried before his dramatic exit. I think he's too self-righteous and am glad to see him go. Third time really was a charm-- for him to leave. But now that he's gone, bring in the newest tribe member: Craftsman. That's the next blog so stayed tuned. Check out CBS's Survivor website for more info about the new twist.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In the Real World

On Saturday I came across a new Canadian reality television show, specifically for kids: In Real Life. It's an Amazing Race-style show where nine teams of two, between the ages of 12 and 14, compete in "experience challenges" that are based on a chosen occupation. The kids, all from Canada, must complete these tasks in order to move onto the next "experience." From my research I discovered I am watching the first season, while the second season is currently underway and aired at an earlier hour.

The first season, so far, has taken the group of 18 to Atlanta, Georgia, where they completed tasks at a race car track: go-karting around a regulation NASCAR track, changing an air filter, tires and fueling a race car, and racing around a track at 240 km/hr to find three flags; the second took place in Florida at an alligator farm, where the teams had to collect baby alligators, one adult alligator, carry rats to a feeding yard filled with giant alligators, then race to the observation deck. At this point, the green team (Jesse, Barrie, and Carlisee, Toronto) were eliminated, and another reward was given out and a "wrench", as in "throw a wrench into the situation", was given out to slow down another teams progress in the next "experience."

I know that was a long explanation but you, my readers, should know the show and now watch it. I am purely jealous of these kids for two reasons: 1) they get to do these cool jobs I didn't even dream of as a kid, but now think it would be really awesome to do now; 2) They get to compete on a reality tv show that's in Canada! After watching this I know now I was born either way before my time or way after my time, in the wrong location.

But that's what I love about this show is that they are opening opportunities for these eighteen to experience different, if not life-threatening, jobs. All I had when I was their age was bring a kid to work day (I got to be a principal), and would have loved to had a chance to try out cool and interesting jobs. With only four weeks away until I enter that "real world" I only hope I get to test drive a cool, out-of-the-ordinary job. If PR is what it's shaping up to be, then I guess I'll definitely get my fix.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dancing with the "Stars"?

I have developed a great admiration for the people who compete on dance shows, especially celebrities. Celebrity reality television shows are supposed to be easy (e.g. Celebrity Rehab), with little challenges that don't harm them and the filming doesn't take longer than a few days. Dancing with the Stars isn't that.

DWTS has become a Monday night ritual, like how The Bachelor is for some people. With the creation of the newest celebrity status -- Reality TV Star -- we are seeing a wide range of personalities on the series. Last year was my favourite by far: who knew that Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino could make it that far (the people of Jersey Shore, that's who); or that Kate Gosselin could "dance"? The fact is that reality TV stars aren't trained professionals, so it'll be hard for them to make it to the finals (Bristol Palin is an exception: she's not a reality star, she's a "teen activist"). Jennifer Grey did not surprise me last year, and overall I thought the cast was something to look forward to each week. This year may be different.

This year's cast is hard to explain because the names aren't that familiar. Rather than take celebrities who need a boost in their careers, ABC and DWTS's producers have reached out to current popular names and some old favourites who could use a little touch-up. I had to think twice before I realized who Wendy Williams or Kendra Wilkinson was, but to hear that Kirstie Alley, Chris Jericho, and Ralph Macchio are on the show made my day. Those are classic names, all with interesting resumes; I cannot say the same for Chelsea Kane (still trying to figure out who that person is). I think the reality competition shows, or the few that are left, need to keep bringing back names of people we enjoyed from the past and not from our present. Celebrity Apprentice 4 is airing on Sunday and Gary Busey, LaToya Jackson, and Star Jones are all revving up the audiences for a drama-filled season. I hope DWTS can do the same with their almost famous cast.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sacrificing yourself for someone else.

There is one thing that bugs me about reality competition shows: people giving up their chance for someone else. This comes up after watching last night's episode of The Biggest Loser: Couples. In a shift from being the strongest team on campus, the black team decided that the oldest members -- Marci, Deni and Jesse -- should throw the weigh-in and each gain weight. To my absolute show and dismay, Deni gained 8 pounds to protect "the young kids" from going home. This included a member on the red team, Jen, from being eliminated (she gained 2 pounds and was set to go home before the black team's weigh-in). 

Biggest Loser Couples 4, 2011
What bugs me about The Biggest Loser is when they play in couples or teams, because someone always gives up their chance for another because "they need it more." Often the people who make it to the end of The Biggest Loser have convinced others that they are more deserving of being there than someone else. But shouldn't you be making the call whether you're more deserving of being there than someone else? Isn't the point of this show to lose weight and become the biggest loser by staying on campus? Shouldn't you be taking advantage of the resources provided to you, making the other thousands of obese people in America mad they don't get the same chances? How do you determine that your needs aren't worse than the needs of someone else?

This problem of sacrifice extends beyond this one weight-loss show to other reality competition shows. On Survivor, many people have determined that they will be the martyr and give up their chance for someone else to win. Where's the competition in that? During the tenth season in Palau, Janu Tornell quit the game because she had enough, but later changed her tune to say that she was giving up her chance so Stephenie LaGrossa (the one who outlasted the rest of her former tribe to be the last person left before the merge) could stay in the game and fight to win. I don't call these sacrifices; I call them orchestrated quits.

An orchestrated quit is taking the control away from the game and exiting the game by your own wishes. Most contestants who orchestrate their own exit are tired of playing the game, miss home and want out of the confines of the show. To those who have done it, you just took away the chance from thousands of others (hundreds of thousands in Canada) to get the chance to play the game. To CBS, I won't ever quit Survivor, Big Brother, or the Amazing Race for anyone. 

Maybe it's just me who wouldn't do that, but would you sacrifice your chance for $1 million pay out or the chance to save your own life for someone else?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spinning PR in a different direction

This week's entry is for my fellow PR students who are craving to get out of the classroom and into the working world, whipping through press releases, organizing media conferences and updating the status of a top 100 company across the globe.

Summer, Lauren, Jonathon, Simon, Katie and Erika
I, as well as others I have talked to, have discovered The Spin Crowd on E! This show depicts Jonathon Cheban, insane yet brilliant owner of Command PR, running his west coast office. He has four staff working under him, as well as a quick-witted vice president. I was so excited to see that a reality show was made about PR but this one goes against my whole belief that reality television is real to me.

I haven't had much experience in PR yet, being only a student for now, but I am praying that I do not have to work for someone like Jonathon Cheban. I have my reservations about working for someone who tells his employees to get lip injections. I may be critical of what others wear, but I would take offense to being asked to change my physical appearance if it was not helpful to my overall health. Luckily for little Erika, the new girl from San Diego, she only got a temporary lip injection but angered Jonathon for deceiving her. I wonder if this is a question of morals.

I am worried that I will enter the PR world and have everyone compare it to this show. Better, more prestigious professions have been compared to other shows, not all reality television, like practicing medicine to Grey's Anatomy or ER, and practicing law to Boston Legal or Law and Order. PR, from what has been described from our professors, is going to be filled with writing, editing, communication and building relationships. I think looking for ways to melt fat away or improve your wardrobe shouldn't overshadow the importance of a great profession.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't hate Kate

My inspiration for this week's blog came just after writing about Jersey Shore last week when I turned on E! True Hollywood Story: Kate Gosselin. I had almost forgotten about the hot mama from Pennsylvania trying to raise eight kids on her own (very different from Octamom). Watching the twists and turns of Kate's celebrity played with my emotions yet again, just like Jon's play dates with the babysitters.

I have never been afraid to admit that I am a fan of Kate Gosselin. I'm not a mother, so I don't know what it's like to have children or raise them. My guess is that it is hard and you would get grouchy if you had to listen to nine children whine (let's remember that Jon was two years her junior). I worked at enough day camps and children centres to know that when one starts to cry, the whole balance of a room can get be thrown off balance. But this isn't about the kids-- it's about the woman behind the kids.

I do not have money or anything to call my own except for my Jon and Kate Plus Eight DVD's and Kate Gosselin's book "Multiple Blessings", so if someone came to me with an idea for a reality television show that will do two things: 1) Make me enough money to support my family (whenever that happens); and 2) Provide me with unique opportunities I wouldn't have before; then yes, I would ensure that my face is always in the public eye. She has said numerous times, even after Jon ordered a cease and desist order for TLC to stop filming, that she does the show, the guest appearances, and Dancing with the Stars to make money to support her children. Someone has to.

That is one common theme every reality show has: the people on the show want money. I believe that's the true reality of this show. How did Jon and Kate expect to support eight children on the salary of a part-time nurse and computer IT guy? I thank my parents for everything they gave me, knowing they had to work extra hard to support four kids who wanted to play baseball and soccer and football, and have a car and go to university and eat. So when I watch Kate parading her children around, I keep it in my head that she is doing this for their kids (insert raving rants here).

We all know what happens next. In the end of the fourth season, Jon and Kate questioned whether they would be back for a fifth season. Jon stated: "I don't get to be just Jon. I have to be Jon and Kate Plus 8." Congratulations Jon, you win. You can have your babysitters and wear Ed Hardy while talking to the cameras about what you think is best for your kids. But the show is now Kate Plus 8 and you were (as of the twentieth of January) working for a real estate company. Keep fighting to have the show taken off the air; in the mean time, Kate will support the kids with her $250,000 an episode.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Reality of the "Situation"

I have fallen in love with Jersey Shore.

I used to think it was a hyped-up show about Italian-Americans always getting into fights, but it's so much more than that. The show's premise is primarily this: take eight strangers and move them into a house, and see what happens. Doesn't that show sound like another MTV show that has been on for 24 seasons? It's basically Real World for guidos, which I think is heaven.

Since my obsession with the show began last week, I have done some reading up on the show to see what I have missed. I'm not surprised that there has been a large response towards the show, especially from Italian-American organizations. There has been so many letters, statements and angry phone messages to MTV I'm sure their duck phone is quacked-out.

MTV has always created shows that are controversial, and not everyone is going to like them. I think My Super Sweet 16 is worse in that the 16-year-old is spoiled, arrogant and rude to everyone around them, and their parents pay for them to get whatever they want. Does anyone who is not part of the Royal Family (and I mean the Pitt-Jolie's) need to receive a new Mazzaratti or book a New York club out when no one can legally drink? The JS shore kids are just having fun, having developed their own sense of self, and I strongly believe they are no way told how to act.

Vinny and Sammi "Sweetheart" both attended university; Pauly D. is a successful DJ; Nicole "Snooki" wants to be a veterinary technician-- they want to make something out of their lives, like everyone else does. What's so wrong with that?

I don't think that by them calling themselves "guidos" and "guidettes" they are belittling themselves or hurting anyone. As a girl I work with says: "I hate Jersey Shore and I'm Italian," then don't watch. Ethnicities need to be celebrated, especially the ones that embarrass us; those are the ones that will shed light on the reality of subculture, making others aware. So to the people who hate my beautiful JS cast members, maybe you need a little GTL time to relax and figure yourselves out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What constitutes reality

Friends know me as someone who frequently, if not always, watches reality television programs. Since 2000 when Survivor came out I've been obsessed, and the ball has never stopped rolling. So many shows have come out since then, of different themes under reality: The Bachelor (love), the Biggest Loser (health), Jon and Kate Plus 8 (family/parenting), etc. etc. etc.

I do not argue that these shows are not considered reality, because my belief is that under those circumstances that is your reality. If I was stranded on an island to win one million dollars, I'd be conniving, scheming and backstabbing to win one million dollars as well. I have never believed that those people who compete on competition-reality television shows are staying in hotels when the cameras are off and they are fed food. With the exception of having to stage a shot or being told to say a certain line (sometimes youtube is pretty accurate when airing clips of a Big Brother contestant being told what to say by the producers), the shows depict the reality of the situation. So that's what my blog is going to be about: how I think shows depict the true reality of the situation. Speaking of situation, I have to get caught up on Jersey Shore.