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Lifestyles

June 16, 2012

On the Go: Make sure TV doesn't blur reality

I was homesick for a lot of things while I was away at school (my mom's homemade mac-n-cheese, my dog, seeing the mountains and trees every time I stepped out of my house _ just to name a few) but without a doubt, one thing my heart ached for, was television.

It goes without saying that I'm a huge fan of television in general. A future goal of mine is to work in the television industry, if not only to write off the amount of TV I've watched throughout my lifetime as "homework."

So as you might expect, going away to school and being too busy to actually sit and watch TV was a huge blow to the natural order of my life.

Coming back to home after the school year was finished to see my TV again was one of the happiest homecomings I've ever had.

Have you ever seen those slow-motion reunion scenes where two people run across a meadow or a beach at sunrise toward each other? Imagine that, but with me running to my television.

I'm not picky when it comes to the type of shows that grace my screen either. I could go on for hours in-depth about what specifically I love about each show and genre, but unfortunately, I have a word limit on these columns.

From crime dramas to laugh-track-filled sitcoms, to soap operas and talk shows, I will willingly and happily watch it all.

However, there's a special place in my heart for one genre of TV alone, and that would be the outrageous world of reality television.

Despite being the most controversial type of television by far, reality television has overtaken small screens across the nation. With this genre of TV show, scripts in their general form are thrown out the window, "actors" are largely unnecessary, and all bets are off.

Shows are devised by producers, who place regular people in irregular situations to compete for cash prizes, such as in the trailblazing reality shows "Big Brother" and "Survivor."

Or, they follow days in the lives of people with interesting and unusual lives, such as "Little People, Big World" or those of the "Real Housewives" fame.

Celebrities are not only made in the process, such as in "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," sometimes they are the stars of the shows themselves, as in "The Simple Life," or "Steven Seagal, Lawman."

Whatever the formula, reality television gives the viewers an all-access pass into the subject's lives, and all the drama that unfolds along with it.

In a lot of ways, reality television deserves its dicey reputation. In too many cases, children are subjected to starring on these shows, and therefore receive all of the negative media attention that often accompanies it as well. For instance, "Toddlers & Tiaras" follows around children who are placed in beauty pageants by their parents, and all of the extreme measures, such as fake tanning, and wearing fake teeth to look "perfect" for the judges -- no doubt doing wonders for their budding self-esteem. I would like to take a minute to point out that this show is in its fifth season on air, and a spin-off aired this spring.

Despite these obvious downfalls, in some cases, I think it some reality TV gets a bad rap along with the rest of it, and undeservedly so. "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing with the Stars" are both reality competition shows centered around dance, whether it be with celebrities, or unknown struggling dancers hoping to make it big doing what they love. These shows over the past few years have helped inspire a whole new generation to dance, and in a time when sedentary lifestyles are threatening the health of our nation's children, there's nothing wrong with giving them the push to get up and get moving.

I'm stuck way up on the fence with reality television. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with allowing ourselves to be entertained by these shows, as long as we keep in mind that that's just what it is -- entertainment television.

We have to make sure we understand the difference between actual reality and what has been planned and devised by a team of producers to create the biggest ratings impact. And most of all, we have to be careful that in spending so much time watching other people live their lives, we don't allow ours to slip by.

So I guess I'm staying up here on the fence, and it doesn't look like I'll be moving anytime soon.

There's a marathon of "America's Next Top Model" on today …Adrian Adamo, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, recently completed her freshman year at Emerson College in Boston. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.

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