Money makes the world go round: A blog about the business and culture of all things entertaining in the world of theater, television, film, music, art, gadgets, gizmos and other life necessities (and probably other things, knowing myself)

Monday, November 1, 2010

A New Kind of Reality

America is fascinated by reality television as much as we are obsessed with our celebrities. We are enticed by how the other half lives, whether they’re the crème de la crème or slums of the earth.  We want to let go of our own struggles and troubles and be a part of other people’s woes and dramas.

Now, aside from watching how the worst housewives behave or socialites spend their money across the continent, viewers can tune in to another kind of reality show that may hit a little too close to home.

Responding to the country’s economic conditions, reality shows like “Downsized,” “The Fairy Jobmother,” “Outsourced” and “Raising Hope” document the nature of how the economy has affected American families. Of course, we must remember that they are reality shows and can only portray “reality” to an extent, although we applaud them for trying.

Lifetime’s “The Fairy Jobmother” is probably the most fictitious out of the above mentioned economic derived reality shows, centering around British “expert” consultant Hayley Taylor, who announced to the public, “It’s time to get America back to work!”

There is a new struggling family every episode and Taylor helps them change their financial luck, but the idea of a foreigner aiding Americans back on their feet can be hard for some to accept. And of course, unlike the real reality, the families on the show are offered jobs and new prospects at the end of each episode.

The WE TV’s “Downsized,” is a tad more realistic, surrounding a Brady-like Arizona family with seven children. When the Bruce couple married, their kids were teenagers and the blended family enjoyed some good times with Todd’s thriving construction company. Unfortunately, the real-estate crisis hit right in their home and the family’s two properties foreclosed while they struggled to make credit card and rent payments. The children also help out, selling their possessions and collecting aluminum cans and glassed bottles for extra change.

Reality television provides an escape route out of our real lives, but networks are taking a new move to show the world what is essentially on the country’s mind at the moment: the economy.  Reality shows “Outsourced” and “Raising Hope” also focus on foreclosures and unemployment.  Get ready – you might not be laughing or sneering at the characters, but at least you’ll be rooting for them. But then again, we rooted for Jon and Kate and look what happened there.

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