We are, we reluctantly confess, suckers for reality TV–especially contests. We’ve tried to watch dramas, but we simply cannot get through the first five minutes of, for example, CSI: Anaheim (or whatever the latest iteration). It is just too phony and melodramatic to be taken seriously. Comedies? Are you kidding? The latest TV comedies make Beavis and Butt-head look like high art. And as for the news, our own personal life is depressing enough. So that leaves reality TV. We enjoy learning new ways to make crème brûlée and tuna tartar, watching effeminate men getting into cat fights over sewing machines, seeing Tyra Banks squinting and calling it her “smokey eye look”, and hearing Randy Jackson making nonsensical, random comments as though he were actually listening to the singing (he’s not).
Of course, reality TV has its drawbacks. One is the ubiquitous cliches. One would think that someone getting their 15-minutes would find something original to say, but many people can’t seem to be bothered.
Here, then, is our list of the worst, most-overused reality TV cliches, and why they should be retired:
- “failure is not an option”
In truth, failure is the most popular option of all. In any real contest there can only be one winner, which means that everyone else will fail. Even in real life–especially in real life–failure is the most popular option chosen. Few people really choose success; being successful requires more hard work, sacrifice, and dedication than most people are willing to give. It’s simply easier to have a drink and (ahem) watch TV.
- “it’s do or die”
How many people take this seriously? This is a binary choice–either they do or they die. If they aren’t prepared to do either–and usually they aren’t–then they should not use this phrase.
- “I like to think 0utside of the box”
We’ve discussed the manifold deficiencies of this cliche here, but let’s just add that, in the context of reality TV, this is most often used as an excuse for not following directions and serving inedible, unpleasant-looking slop instead of food.
- “I’m not here to be friends”
Reality TV–indeed, life in general–properly understood, is one long job interview. Who wants to hire a nasty, hostile, backstabbing, duplicitous fool? Sure, it makes for good drama on TV, but being a friend–or at least being friendly–is the single best way to get a leg-up on the competition in both reality TV and in life, and to prolong one’s TV career beyond just 15 minutes.
- “We’re the Dream Team”
The surest sign of impending doom on reality TV is when a team or an individual starts talking about how wonderful they are. The winners on these shows are nearly always the people who bring the goods and don’t mouth off about their own greatness.
Of course, there are many other cliches that need to be retired. This is just a start.