Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Entertainment Value

Years, ago, before Reality shows became appointment TV, I had an idea for a show. It would take place poolside, almost anywhere in Miami. The host would approach an older person (I’m being extremely careful about specific age) preferably a female talking to more than one other female. The premise was simple, the host would simply say, “how are you feeling?” From this point on, to whenever the show ended, there would be no need for the host to do anything but keep track of the most appealing health issues. It would be an ongoing, weekly series, which would work because once you decided who were the most engaging characters or who had the most fascinating ailments, the viewers would feel compelled to tune in to find out what happens.

 The timing for my show was unfortunately premature. (I was always ahead of my time). A& E still had noteworthy programming, but was not making any money. They were in the process of trying to decide who they wanted to be. Eventually, they chose the reality route, and that was certainly a good financial choice. Although, it is not a type of TV I find even moderately entertaining, it may be that I am not the target audience. So maybe, there is a need for reality TV, whose target audience skews a bit older. And although there is no question that younger people are also entertained by grandparent figures, having to think about what they are watching is not high on the list of why they watch. The setting for another series might also be any New York diner, that has regular, consistent, clientele and servers. The host’s question would have to be a bit different, like “Is everything OK?”, but the results would be the same colorful replies as when you ask a health related question to someone who is trying to grow old gracefully.

 With this in mind, on Thursdays, I meet my aunt for lunch. She is somewhere in her 80’s, but has always been ageless. When we all grow up, we want to look like Aunt Irene. Anyway, it is a weekly event, to which we both look forward. We chat about everything from old times to present day politics. We both feel OK so that is never a topic. However, when Thursday doesn’t work, we meet on Fridays with two of her close friends. They say I meet them for the entertainment value, and in part, that’s true. They always have remarkable tales to tell, about their own lives, or someone who they know. It is especially fun when they talk about someone who they don’t like. Never mean spirited, yet, unlike the “Golden Girls” you couldn’t write this as a script (this is reality at it’s best), and it is truly hilarious. If there were reality TV as entertaining as their conversation always is, I could be convinced that this type of programming actually had merit. If fact, if the job for host were open, there are at least one million people who would apply, just to be in the presence of such humanity and humor. It’s not Snooki, or the Wives of anyone and anywhere, (they are widows). But every Friday, at a diner in Fort Lee, you can find them performing. There are no cameras, and no awards, because the best part is they don’t have a clue that they could be a hit show. We’re just sayin’… Iris

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