The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A cornerstone of reality television programming is some level of humiliation. At some juncture, at least one of the primary players has to caught in a less-than-flattering moment. Whether or not it's truly emasculating, or just made to look that way in front of the camera, is irrelevant. To me, the idea of seeing someone "exposed" is the primary reason for watching a reality show; it satisfies the voyeuristic aspect of these shows.

I think this applies to every strain of the genre, from granddaddy "The Real World" to the latest rookie, "Amish in the City". So it really should come as little surprise when that concept is taken to a logical extreme with the Spanish-television show "Gana la Verde (Win the Green)", which pits contestants against one another for the questionable promise of an immigrant green card.

Is such a show exploitive? It is. But is it any more exploitive than the other reality shows, particularly the gameshow-oriented ones? Other than the ethnic and civic status of the contestants, I'd say no.