I’m not referring to the 1994 eponymous movie.
It’s an allusion to reality television, those mindless brain drains that we just can’t seem to get enough of whether it’s girls fawning over a dreamy guy on “The Bachelor,” guys fawning over a 1956 Coca-Cola drink machine on “American Pickers” or a host of other shows broadcast day and night.
Look, I’m not trashing anyone who tunes into reality shows. Your free time is your free time. Spend it how you like. You may think watching a continuous loop of ESPN News for four hours straight is a waste of time.
Not that I’ve ever done that ...
It just seems there is a reality show for almost every niche and every interest imaginable.
Enjoy blindly jamming your arms into holes on a riverbank to catch a giant catfish? Watch “Mudcats” Thursdays at 10 p.m. on The History Channel.
What about watching bakers battle to create the yummiest cupcake? Catch “Cupcake Wars” Sundays at 8 p.m. on Food Network.
Are you a tattoo lover who wants to see tattoo artists compete for $100,000? There’s “Ink Master” Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Spike.
I freely admit that from time to time my television remote flips to a reality program. Then, I watch.
Another confession: I was once a reality show junkie. In 1992, “The Real World: New York” debuted on MTV. The premise was simple. Throw a bunch of strangers in a huge loft apartment and roll the cameras. What a cool social experiment.
To this day I still can hear in my mind the opening credits with a housemate narrating each line: “This is the true story ... of seven strangers ... picked to live in a house ... work together and have their lives taped ... to find out what happens ... when people stop being polite ... and start getting real ... ‘The Real World.’”
And did they ever get real. They delved into all kinds of taboo subjects: politics, racism, sex, etc. Being a high school freshman trapped under my parents’ supervision and their house rules, watching these seven adults frolic through New York was fascinating. Not once did I miss an episode. As it turns out, “The Real World” was the launching point for the reality shows that now fill our flat screens.
Through the years, “The Real World” became less and less real. The roommates were almost type cast. You had the angry black man, the naive Southerner, the non-stop party girl, the fraternity dude, the attractive blonde airhead, the meathead, etc.
Eventually, I tuned out.
Toady, we’re in the golden era of reality shows. One program chronicles the lives of the wives of NBA basketball players — not their famous husbands who actually play professional basketball. Another follows residents of the Louisiana bayou hunting alligators. And another show features truckers as they drive through icy conditions.
So why do we watch reality shows?
Part boredom, part needing an escape. After all, these shows are entertainment. Maybe it’s generational.
Just about every age group thinks the television shows they watched through the stages of their lives are superior to all others. Your grandfather believes nothing could top “Gunsmoke.” Your dad swears by “MASH.” Your older brother thinks “The Cosby Show” is the best television show created. You can recite lines from almost every “Seinfeld” episode. Your daughter is spellbound by “Jersey Shore.”
Many of today’s reality shows have an overproduced, scripted feel. The participants seem less like actual people and more like pathetic actors and actresses. Their reality isn’t exactly real. Perhaps that’s what we want. I’d rather have something else.
Next time you settle in for a Sunday afternoon marathon of “Storage Wars” and “Doomsday Preppers,” consider turning off the television and following a more significant reality show for a few hours.
It might not be as glamorous as Kim Kardashian’s, but at least it’s real.
Dalton native Jamie Jones is co-city editor of The Daily Citizen.