Don Stratton: Reality TV shows — Where’s the reality?

By Don Stratton - Guest Columnist

Don Stratton

Don Stratton

I am not a big fan of so-called “Reality” TV shows because I doubt that reality is even a factor in most of them. A couple of shows dealing with antiques and collectibles can be informative, but I watch them occasionally knowing that they contain more scripted lines, and less ad-libbing, than the average soap opera. It doesn’t take a genius to tell that most of them are planned, scripted, and rehearsed just like any fictional TV drama.

There is one pawn shop show that can be interesting if you’re only paying attention to the items that are brought in to sell or pawn, but it’s ridiculous to even pretend that these items simply come in off the street at random. Obviously, everything is arranged in advance, probably including the prices. They also waste far too much time on the show’s regular characters, most of whom are far less interesting than the merchandise, and can’t even come close to doing the dialogue without sounding like a six-year-old just learning to read.

There is one show involving being on the road buying antiques and collectibles that can be really interesting, but there also is far more pre-planning on that show than they will admit. With 50 years in the antique business, I will never believe that anyone can repeatedly drive down a country road and randomly pick out an unmarked location where they can find, let alone buy, quality antiques.

While on a recent vacation trip, I drove through the town where that show is headquartered, and decided to visit their shop. I was surprised to find very few actual collectible items for sale, considering the size of the operation. There were no “TV Stars” anywhere to be found, just a lot of tourist customers looking at numerous museum quality items marked “Not for Sale” along with several employees hustling mugs and T-shirts, which seem to comprise the bulk of their sales.

Most informative of all was my recent experience involving one of the many remodeling and real estate shows. A friend called and said that her niece from another city was going to have her house on one of the shows, and suggested that my wife and I watch it.

We watched it, and the premise was that the niece and her husband wanted to remodel their house to make it easier to sell, then move up to a larger, more expensive property. They went into great detail with the remodelers/sales agents/reality TV stars, about what they wanted done, and what they wanted to buy.

The niece’s family lived in a temporary residence while the remodel was being done. They shopped for a house, looked at three properties, and picked one which was a little over their $1 million budget. They made an offer, which was rejected due to an equal competing offer. Then just as the remodel was completed, they submitted a slightly larger offer, which was accepted. They were all ready to move into their new house. Or were they?

When the remodel was completed, their old house was shown to several potential buyers. TV viewers were given a tour, and It was stunning. I remarked to my wife, “They’re going to stay in the old house.”

Little did I know just how correct I was. My wife called the friend to tell her that we had watched the show, and commented about how nice the old house was, and the high price of the new one. The friend then told her that not only did the couple not buy another house, they also never had any plans to do so; all they ever wanted was a remodel job. The house hunt, offers, rejection, and potential buyers for the old house were all faked, scripted, and rehearsed by the producers to make the show more interesting.

I hope no one comes up with this type of show starring a doctor, say a podiatrist. If done the same way, he would at the end have to cut off the patient’s entire foot just to get rid of an ingrown toenail, because that would make the show more interesting.

Don Stratton Stratton

By Don Stratton

Guest Columnist

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.

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