For a blog firstly – and temporarily… – baptised Fuckorama, one would agree that the previous topics seemed to be quite serious. Politics, books, album covers… To be honest, I didn’t feel the courage after an exhausting day of work – yes, I do work a lot –to dive myself into some intricate analysis. No. Time had come, I figured, to lower the level of this website to a more worldwide spread concern: The unfortunate and highly disconcerting decline of French reality TV. I mean, let’s face it. If I first met you tomorrow and you asked me if I do watch reality TV, I would adopt the exact same attitude as practised by all my TV-addicted fellows around the globe. I will look right into your eyes and answer with dignity: “Of course, I don’t”. Lies.
In fact, it has been something like 50 years since the first reality show was launched in America. We, poor Europeans, had to wait before having the opportunity to lazily enjoy the streak of bad luck of individuals that would make us feel better about our own lives. In 2001, M6 – a French private TV channel –revolutionized the daily lives of thousands of viewers with the launch of that good old Loft Story, a somehow variant of the well-known Big Brother. From that day on, shows have multiplied: How to find a wife who would please your mom. How to redecorate your entire house to sell it faster. How to tame your dog (or your kids, basics are the same). To make it short, how to distract people, encourage them to buy stuff they don’t need and if time remains, inculcate in them some socio-cultural essentials. I love my time.
I should however make a short break. At this point, you may well wonder why I would focus on French TV. You may even think that I assess French TV as terrible broadcasters. Well, I don’t. Not completely. US TV does have some good shit too. But French producers manage to keep this magic that makes the whole concept plausible. Call it French touch or just rational moderation. Where US shows often dive way too much in excess, French ones succeed in maintaining this fairy illusion of what-I’m-seeing-is-true (and-if-it’s-not-just-shut-up-and-let-me-believe-it-is). Adding to that the fact that my lovely native Switzerland has nothing to offer me but never-ending shows, starring couple of cows and retired farmers and you will find the key factors why I had to turn myself very young towards the neighbour’s programs.
So, French TV has a lot of entertainment to offer. Well, at least this was before. Until the day something went wrong. I still don’t know what happened nor when it happened. Nevertheless, since a few months, it seems like French TV has been struck by a dark succession of scandals, turning my personal to-watch calendar into a deserted mess and causing me to fear for the sake of these programs.
Koh Lanta has always been that unique kind of show that makes you think: “Ha, the guy who conceptualized the whole thing, well, he’s is a true psycho.” 20 people, an isolated island, neither food nor fire, fighting to be the last survivor. That’s what I call an anthropological experience! But well, this is not the topic. Everything drifted few weeks ago as one of the contestants – a 25-years old well-built guy freshly debarked on the island – suffered from several strokes during the filming and eventually died in the hospital. Shocker. Even more outraging was the lame doctor, waiting for the crew to have a good shot of the scene, said the media. Few days later, doctor committed suicide due to media pressure and a complete loss of reputation. Another dirty trick for the TF1 production, who already had to cancel the season. The continuation of the program is obviously still touch and go – but the audience scores might lead the channel to reconsider.
Hitch-hiking in pair through the globe, with only 1€ to provide for food and accommodation. That might sound like an idyllic adventure for some. But this is forgetting that crossing Egypt few weeks after the uprising in Tunisia or asking a drunk armed Russian guy for a ride when you are a Frenchie with absolutely no word of English in your repertoire might not be such a good idea. This is what learned recently two of the contestants, who were taken hostage one night by a Cuban family – knives, guns and machetes involved. Those poor guys probably got scared to death. But at the same time, it’s quite understandable from the family to get suspicious when two western guys, fully equipped and followed by a cameraman, come knock at your door, asking for hospitality and claiming not to have a penny.
Last but not least, the prank. TF1 production got this week completely fooled by the comic Rémi Gaillard who infiltrated subtly two of his friends in their casting. The concept of the program: reporting about weirdos’ lives who have developed all-consuming passions (for small dogs, Celine Dion or whatever), or who suffer from funny psychological issues such as OCD. The staff, convinced by the fake candidates, started the filming without knowing that they would be captured on video as well. Pre-written speech, fake phone calls, manipulations, deceiving journalists and other classics were then brought to public attention, making the prod seriously doubt about the future of the show.
Death, suicide, kidnapping, hoax. Those were the facts that happened recently. Sad but true, I know. And at the same time, I can’t stop wondering: When the f*** was that amazing time when I could simply enjoy a crappy show on TV without fearing for the life of my favourite contestants or being proved completely deluded by some random jokers? It seems like reality TV, who was until recently making fool of its viewers, has been slowly caught up by the reality of life. And, I mean, its fine. You probably don’t care. But it makes it quite difficult for me to decide what am I going to watch on TV from now on.