Reality TV, once the driving force of too many channels to count, is in decline.
The L.A. Times reports the TV landscape isn’t relying nearly as much on “unscripted” fare as in recent years.
Of the 87 broadcast prime-time hours airing each week this season, just nine are reality TV — and three are NBC’s “The Voice” alone. That’s down from 12 hours last fall, and 14 in 2014.
Shows like “Survivor” once dominated the water-cooler conversations. That’s no more. Can we blame, or thank, Donald Trump for this?
TV is certainly cyclical. And with the rush of premium original content, TV suits may think there’s gold in them thar stories. Scripted series may be more expensive, but these shows drive the cultural zeitgeist like never before. Feature films often can’t even keep up.
Truth be told, aren’t we a little tired of the manufactured fights and other artificial moments of the average reality show?
Something else is in play, particularly during this election year. Trump has turned the presidential race into his personal reality series. “The Apprentice” was merely a warm-up, a dress rehearsal, for what the nation is experiencing now.
We don’t need any Trump TV. We’ve got it already. So why bother with other reality-show fare?
Trump’s campaign is mostly unscripted — Trump is at his Trumpiest when he ignores the teleprompter. The candidate oozes with anger, counter-punches, and personal insults. Remember what Trump said about Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife? That’s straight out of the reality-show template. Could “The Bachelor” top that?
We can track Trump on virtually any channel or social media platform. Twitter is Trump’s home away from home. And, like any good reality-show warrior, he’s often at his best at 3 a.m. in the morning, furiously Tweeting without considering the repercussions.
The campaign is like one of those reality-show confessional moments. Trump is sitting before us, letting loose with everything that crosses his mind. No filter. He knows the more outrageous he gets, the more reaction he’ll receive.
And … scene!
Who needs reality TV when we have a reality political campaign?
Trump has already caused serious damage to cultural institutions. Take Sean Hannity, for starters. His ultimate legacy may not derive from any White House proclamations but how he influenced TV.
For every “The Amazing Race” or other worthy reality show, there are dozens that are just plain awful.
Even a #NeverTrumper type might applaud The Donald for bringing the reality show era to an end.