THE REALITY CIRCUS

Every time wooing lovers share an intimate whisper on “The Bachelor,” viewers know there’s a crew of 20 sound and light technicians, production assistants and script consultants standing by. It’s no secret that the veracity of reality TV is dubious.

The precursor to reality shows can be traced back to the forties with shows like Allen Funt’s Candid Camera that captured blunt reactions of people to humorous tricks and pranks. TV shows without stringent story-lines, soon became increasingly popular with the audience. Ordinary people captured in real-life situations like MTV Bakra seemed to amuse the audience, which was hitherto pelted with ultra-dramatic soaps and movies.

Some of these reality shows are talent hunts, game shows, celebrity shows, documentary-style shows, makeover shows, or some of them are just plain voyeurism personified. However different their concepts might be, all the reality shows, intrinsically run on the same path. They put ordinary people or celebrities in real-life situations and allow peeping toms to enjoy the thrill of watching them!

Every time players strategize on “The Amazing Race,” a story editor is there with a clipboard, taking notes. Producers increasingly say that their shows are “gently scripted.” That’s a phrase that might have mortified viewers a few years ago but which is now quotidian. How gullible viewers become when consuming reality TV?

“Lightly scripted” has become a new narrative form, like jazz music is “lightly scripted” and prone to improvisation.

Nobody minds an incendiary, inflated version of the facts if it adds to entertainment pleasure, and viewers, too, have learned how to watch reality TV with a trained suspension of disbelief. Just like, say, live theater. We’re all for melodrama that’s made to appear instinctive.

The producers explain that viewers simply don’t care if scenes are manipulated or manufactured. “There’s a reason any entertainment programming is so much higher-rated than news programming,” they say. Viewers can be incorrigible escapists.

After a decade of “Big Boss,” we’re fluent in the nuances, strengths and shortcomings of reality shows. Some pop-culture critics go so far as to say they have evolved into a new art form by itself.

Such chicanery is considered minor and wholly different from leaking answers to game show contenders who compete for money.

Public expects a TV game show to be less manipulated than celebrity reality show because the lure of big money that is promised to any ordinary contestant, they could even be your next door neighbors . In “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, the Indian version of ”Who wants to be a Millionaire?”, contestants are known to have been preparing industriously for years .

Often, Reality television allows the audience to be a part of the show. Take for example The American Idol, or the Zee TV’s singing contest SAREGAMA; these shows allow the audience to choose the winner through a voting system. Although the integrity of these voting systems is debated about forever, the interactivity factor definitely fetches the show a lot of fan following.

Renowned producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice” and “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”) asked Fox to abort the game show “Our Little Genius”. This was to be a show about precocious kids. The withdrawl followed allegations by one of the little geniuses’ parents that crews leaked answers to questions about music history and theory before shooting.

“Undercover Boss,” in which a powerful CEO masquerades as a low-level employee to observe how his business works, is typical of the guile, staged and manipulated to be in the reality genre.

Take the case of the hated Big Boss contender Dolly Bindra. What better way to help viewers feel good about their own behavior ? According to a magazine article, she may have been the victim of reality TV editors. Clashes and ugly feuds between the reality stars may be constructed and participants can be projected as incarnations of evil !

However, fans watch in a shared state of denial, as if they don’t care if its all pretentious, as long as it entertains.

Participants of these shows are given caveats beforehand and they have to sign extensive and detailed legal waivers that protect the network from any liability if someone gets hurt on the show physically or otherwise.

Viewers need to remind themselves: It’s a set up, it’s prearranged, it’s almost all calculated in the service of drawing viewers and increasing ratings.

Or perhaps they already know.

Word – Watch

 

Abort

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; terminate before completion

Synonyms : terminate

  • Blunt

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb; make less sharp; make less intense; make less lively, intense, or vigorous; impair in vigor, force, activity, or sensation; make dull or blunt; make numb or insensitive

Other Meaning(s) : Adjective; devoid of any qualifications or disguise or adornment; characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasion; used of a knife or other blade; not sharp; having a broad or rounded end

Synonyms : deaden

  • Caveats

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; A statement that limits or restricts some claim

Synonyms : qualification, caution

  • Chicanery

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)

Synonyms : trickery, shenanigan

  • Dubious

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; not convinced; fraught with uncertainty or doubt; open to doubt or suspicion

Synonyms : doubtful

  • Escapists

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : noun; a daydreamer, or fantasist who tries to avoid reality

Other Meaning(s) : adjective; providing a means of forgetting about everyday or unpleasant realities for a while

Synonyms : daydreamer, fantasizer

  • Feuds

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; rivalries or quarrels or hostilities between people.

Synonyms : altercations

  • Gullible

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; easily tricked because of being too trusting; naive and easily deceived or tricked

Synonyms : fleeceable, green

  • Guile

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : noun; a cunning, deceitful, or treacherous quality

Synonyms : slyness, astuteness

  • Improvisation

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; an unplanned expedient; a creation spoken or written or composed extemporaneously (without prior preparation); a performance given extempore without planning or preparation

Synonyms : extemporization

Incendiary

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; arousing to action or rebellion;

Synonyms : inflammatory, instigative

  • Incorrigible

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; impervious to correction by punishment

Synonyms : unreformable

  • Industriously

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adverb; accomplished with hard work

Synonyms : energetically

  • Inflated

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; enlarged beyond truth or reasonableness; increased especially to abnormal levels; pretentious (especially with regard to language or ideals)

Synonyms : exaggerated, hyperbolic,

 

  • Integrity

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; moral soundness; an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting

Synonyms : unity, wholeness

  • Intimate

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity; a romantics relationship; having mutual interests or affections; of established friendship; innermost or essential;

Other Meaning(s) : thoroughly acquainted through study or experience; having or fostering a warm or friendly and informal atmosphere; noun someone to whom private matters are confided; verb give to understand; imply as a possibility

Synonyms : cozy, inner

  • Instinctive

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; relating to or prompted by instinct or done without conscious thought.

Synonyms : natural, innate

  • Intrinsically

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adverb; with respect to something basic nature

Synonyms : basically

  • Lure

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; qualities that attract by seeming to promise some kind of reward; anything that serves as an enticement;

Other Meaning(s) : verb provoke someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promises or persuasion

Synonyms : enticement

  • Manipulated

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Verb, Influence or control shrewdly or deviously

Synonyms : falsify, misrepresent

  • Masquerades

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; disguises one self

Synonyms : disguises

  • Mortified

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; made to feel uncomfortable because of shame or wounded pride;

Other Meaning(s) : Adjective; suffering from tissue death

Synonyms : embarrassed, humiliated,

  • Narrative

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story;

Other Meaning(s) : noun a message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio or television program

Synonyms : story, tale

  • Nuances

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; difference in shades, subtlety distinctions.

Synonyms : shades, fineries

  • Pelted

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; hurled, thrown or bombarded with intention to harm

Synonyms : bombarded, hit

  • Precocious

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; appearing or developing early; characterized by or characteristic of exceptionally early development or maturity (especially in mental aptitude)

Synonyms : prodigious

  • Precursor

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; an indication of the approach of something or someone

Other Meaning(s) : noun a person who goes before or announces the coming of another; a substance from which another substance is formed (especially by a metabolic reaction);

Synonyms : forerunner, harbinger, herald

 

  • Pretentious

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; making claim to or creating an appearance of (often undeserved) importance or distinction; intended to attract notice and impress others; of a display that is tawdry or vulgar

Synonyms : ostentatious, kitsch

  • Personified

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : verb; to be an embodiment or perfect example of something

Synonyms : incarnate, embodied

  • Quotidian

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; found in the ordinary course of events

Synonyms : routine, unremarkable

  • Stringent

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; demanding strict attention to rules and procedures

Synonyms : rigorous, tight

  • Veracity

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; unwillingness to tell lies

Synonyms : truthfulness

  • Voyeurism

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; a perversion in which a person receives gratification from witnessing others’ private behavior

Synonyms : scopophilia

  • Waivers

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Noun; a written legal statement of forgoing or offering a concession.

Synonyms : concessions

  • Wooing

 

Contextual Meaning(s) : Adjective; courting, seeking the affections of the opposite sex.

Other Meaning(s) : noun a man’s courting of a woman; seeking the affections of a woman (usually with the hope of marriage)

Synonyms : courting

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