It seems to me that folks who are spending their weekdays at their jobs are missing quite an interesting type of entertainment – daytime TV reality shows. These shows, unlike the prime-time”reality” ones that showcase individuals in contrived conditions, involve “real people in real life situations” – usually under adversarial circumstances that require resolution.
One type of program I call “Who’s the daddy?” is fairly common and involves an unwed woman who wants to determine the father of her child by using DNA testing. The show provides a venue where she and the paternity candidates agree to appear and be tested. The apparent motive for the women is usually not to provide a male presence in the child’s life but definitive evidence to be used in getting child support. The men’s objectives for agreeing to appear range from wishing to claim the child as their own to wanting to being absolved of the obligations of fatherhood. Sure is lotsa emotion when the DNA results are dramatically announced – particularly when there is no DNA match.
Another common “reality” show subject area entails a couple who have been shacking up – oops, currently, the proper term is “cohabiting” – and have split up. They are suing each other in a TV court for personal property the other party has taken, money owed for shared living expenses such as rent and utilities, or other similar claims. You know, revelations about the intimate details of such a relationship can get pretty intense. Lotsa reality but not my cup of tea, so to speak.
A very popular “reality” program features women fighting. That’s right, shortly after the program opens and two women who have animosity toward each other are introduced, one comes out swinging – urged on by a studio audience – and the other responds in defense. I think there are some established “rules” such as no hitting with a closed fist, no karate type blows, no hitting below the upper chest, no eye gouging or scratching the face with fingernails, and kicking is permitted only with bare feet.
This cat-fighting, yelling and screaming spectacle lasts only a few minutes before the host has his bouncers step in and enforce a truce – but audiences eat up this “reality”. I don’t have a clue how these situations are resolved because I never watch these shows to the end, but I doubt if it’s a fight to the finish.
Of all the programs involving “real people in real life situations in adversarial conditions”, I found the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of an individual to become a supreme court judge fit the bill quite nicely. The usually sedate, orderly proceedings started with a series of interruptions to the committee chairman’s opening statement outlining the agenda and schedule for the hearings. Although these disruptions by senators opposed to the nomination were repeatedly ruled out of order by the chair, the opposition group continued its well planned initial attack on the proceedings. Kinda like where a woman comes out swinging from the git-go to take advantage of an unwary opponent.
In addition, well organized and prepared protestors in the audience repeatedly tried to interfere with the proceedings with shouts of “murderer” and other epithets directed towards the candidate. The committee chair and other senators ignored these rather loud outbursts as best they could while the capitol police quickly and efficiently hustled these folks out and placed them under arrest. These efforts at disrupting the hearings kinda fizzled out, but the protestors gave it their best shot for TV cameras. However, these were not the only dramatic occurrences.
One senator announced he would risk being expelled from the senate because he was releasing a “Senate Confidential” document – which turned out to have been already approved for release. Sorry ‘bout that. Then, too, another senator insisted on asking the candidate “Are you still beating your wife? Just answer yes or no.” type questions – which, being an experienced jurist, he deftly parried.
Oh, there was lots more of this stuff going on for hour after hour during this “reality” show – most of which reminded me more of a circus with sideshows than a serious hearing about the fitness of the candidate to be a supreme court justice. I suppose this kind of reality show is okay to watch once in a while just so we can get a sample of how those folks we send to Washington act, but I think those battling women act with more civility towards their opponents. You see, unlike many of those senators, the women stay within established rules and boundaries. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.