Memo to Reality Producers: It’s Time to Call Jenny Craig

Jun 7, 2009

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with all the the really long reality shows?”

I speak, of course, of the two-and three-hour syndrome that is taking over network reality at an alarming rate! Just look at NBC’s two-hour “Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “I’m a Celebrity…” and ABC’s two-hour “Bachelorette” for proof that the supersize phenomenon is trending toward to the norm. Even CBS’s “Survivor” asks us to devote three hours to each season’s bloated finale (and reunion); when I try to watch, my catchphrase is outwit, outplay, out like a light!

Do the networks really think we have that much time on our hands?

If programmers and execs really want to reflect reality, how about acknowledging that Americans live overloaded lives with barely enough time to eat and exercise, let alone devote hours and hours in front of the tube laboriously watching our reality favorites.

I understand that expanding episodes is an effective way to amortize costs, but are uber-episodes really serving the audience or these franchises? Is it too expensive to launch another series, or is there merely a dearth of ideas out there?

If that’s the case, here are a few viable options off the top of my head:

 —“Susan Boyle’s Got Talent” — 60 minutes of Susan Boyle singing every week, and every week she wins the competition. 

“I’m a Reality Producer… Get Me Out of Here!” — Cameras capture the action as overworked crews finally rebel against draconian working conditions and substandard craft service. Spencer Pratt and the litigious cast members from the first season of “Survivor” host. 
“Beauty and the Greek” — Nia Vardalos hosts a dating show where an average American girl is courted by 25 smoldering, drop-dead gorgeous Greek hunks.

OK, so maybe those three are tongue-in-cheek, but surely it can’t be that hard to think out of the box and put some of these franchises on a diet.

For this viewer, finding time for two-hour episodes eventually becomes a chore, and I find myself fast-forwarding through long chunks. Apathy will eventually lead to eviction from my DVR queue– making room for “Seinfeld” reruns!


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