This one is a request from a long time ago. Wintercow20, a loyal MR reader, asked:
What do you think of Top Chef? I am an addict!
I am a fan of reality TV but mostly I have chosen blogging instead. I’ve seen about a dozen Top Chef episodes, mostly through the urging of darling Yana. Mark of excellence: the drama is so good that the commentary makes sense even though you can’t taste the food. It’s a show about learning, excellence, and motivation. The voice-over narratives are an object lesson in behavioral economics and self-deception.
Here is a wonderful post by Grant McCracken on reality TV; excerpt:
Reality programming is not just cheap TV, it is responsive TV. Surely,
one of the most sensible way for the programming executive to
get back in touch with contemporary culture is to turn the show offer
to untrained actors who have no choice but to live on screen, in the
process importing aspects of contemporary culture that would otherwise
have to be bagged and tagged and brought kicking and screaming into
the studio and prime time. Reality programming is contemporary culture
on tap. It is by no means a "raw feed." That is YouTube’s job. But
it is fresher than anything many executives could hope to manage by
their own efforts. In effect, reality programming is "stealing
signals" from an ambient culture, helping TV remain in orbit. (Mixed
metaphor alert. Darn it, too late.)
Grant adds: "Reality programming also serves as a way for a divergent culture to
stay in touch."
Addendum: I don’t see why she married Salman Rushdie; books are reproducible after all.
Second addendum: Here is Matt Yglesias, on the new form of reality TV…markets indeed in truly everything.