Sky TV reviews

Why reality TV mustn’t treat viewers as fools…

Call me a fool – and yes I do feel foolish now that I invested so many weeks watching this programme – but I was really taken in watching Channel 5’s The Bachelor. This is a show where Spencer Matthews (of Made in Chelsea fame) searched for love amongst approx 20 girls. Are TV reality shows becoming too contrived?

Partly I watched it for the ridiculous classic lines of the narrator as Spencer went on dates with each girl. “Today Spencer has to make the most important decision of his life…he must decide which girl to present the rose to…” was a typical comment, which made me laugh out loud. But then there were the stunning locations – it was set in the South of France, then Tuscany and finally the Bahamas.

However, I confess I did also think there might be a shred of truth in the fact that Spencer was hoping to meet someone – and that one of the girls he met was hoping to strike up a genuine romance with him. I particularly liked the super stunning Tabby and the way Spencer spoke to her (and she reciprocated) and I did think there might be some romance between the pair.

Fast forward to the last episode and it appeared to me that Spencer had been told by some producer to choose another girl called Khloe Evans. Perhaps Spencer did really prefer Khloe after all and was just brilliant at concealing his real feelings. Maybe the TV producers thought it would be a fun twist to have him pick the one no-one thought he would pick – and it might help their ratings, which plummeted week on week. Needless to say I was incredibly surprised (and disappointed) when he did pick Khloe as all the way through he kept telling Tabby she was the one.

But now it’s been revealed that since Khloe won six weeks ago, she and Spencer haven’t even seen one another, let alone started any sort of big romance. She now says, “I’m single” and he has bumbled on about not having enough time to meet.

Which has left me feeling as if I’ve been duped by a set-up – that I spent all these hours watching a reality show that was perhaps fixed with nothing remotely ‘real’ about it from the very beginning.

As a real-life journalist I go to great lengths to check out stories that I send to magazines and newspapers. And I expect that if a TV company puts someone up as a bachelor trying to find love then he genuinely is.

While on the subject of ‘unreality TV’ I have got to mention ITV’s X Factor. I know I”ve expressed gripes about this show before but this week we had amazing singer Melanie Masson who presented herself as a full time mum and undiscovered talent who had never been on a stage before.

Actually, as revealed in The Sun newspaper, Melanie is not as she seems either. In fact, she has had 15 years in the business singing as a session vocalist with the likes of Kasabian, Stereophonics, Fatboy Slim and Happy Mondays. She was even once signed to EMI.

I would not have minded this – after all, X Factor did say it was open to all singers this year even if they’d had some professional experience and just not made it – but why not say that? What bothers me is that again as an audience we have been duped into thinking this is some mum who has been ‘discovered’ by the show.

It would surely be more honest for her to have admitted she’d had this experience but never really hit the big time. No-one would have minded as she does have a stunning voice.

Sadly though no-one thought to do this – instead those producers were happy to let everyone (even the X Factor judges) think she’d never had any experience.

It is not just not being honest – it is treating TV viewers as fools. These shows have lost any spontaneity, any thought – in fact, it seems they just exist to fill the breaks between the adverts. And that is one of the main reasons why after all the hard work and money spent on these shows – more of us than ever are simply switching them off.

What do you think about reality TV shows? Have they become too contrived for their own good? Let us know your thoughts below…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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