TV is a disaster zone. There was a time when TV was entertaining — or at least funny. Now, every channel is the All-Humiliation Network and every show that comes out is a little trasher than the last.
It started with MTV's "The Real World: New York" in 1992. Seven people lived in a nine-story, ten-unit residential co-op building in Manhattan's SoHo district. Truth be told, THAT was great TV. (ROFL!) It was fresh. It was unique. It was my (and millions of other's) guilt pleasure. The result: SMASH hit with Gen X. However, it was also the beginning of the end. Over the next 20 years, the MTV we all knew (you know: MUSIC Television with artists Unplugged, videos, and music news/trends/behind-the-scenes) altered/obliterated their programming to effectively remove any/all music. They were making room for more "reality"... which, of course, is some of the most contrived, highly-edited television to ever be shot. And now... every channel has more and more reality shows where we watch people do outrageous things to people they love, people they hate, themselves and their children as they claw their way through the ratings for their proverbial 15 minutes.
Before this craziness, some of TV was pretty intelligent—and if not smart, it was entertaining. M*A*S*H and Taxi answered the call for smart comedy... while the award-winning Hill Street Blues (with its long, connected episodic content and intertwined plot lines) changed TV writing forever (resulting in more award-winning shows: The Sopranos, LOST, and more). In "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter ", author Stephen Johnson's theory is that popular culture – in particular television shows and video games – has grown more complex and demanding over time and is improving society within terms of intelligence and idea. But when he wrote it, he clearly didn't include the impact of Reality TV.
Today, with entertainment's nudge/push/violent shove, we are sinking lower and lower into the abyss of mediocrity, scandal, and have quietly embraced a "fuck-the-next-guy" mentality. We watch others in Reality TV shows that are worse off than we are, and we instantly feel better... about ourselves. What parent hasn't been shocked at the "parenting" showcased on Toddlers & Tiaras (or it's mega-hit spin-off Here Comes Honey Boo Boo) and simultaneously feel bewildered (at the parenting), indignant (at the outrage of it being broadcast at all), and relieved (that OUR kids aren't "so screwed up", and that "we aren't parents like that!")
Everyone is now distracted with the Kardashian's wardrobe/sex lives/money, with the latest bed partner of Paris Hilton, with the Octomom's losing her house and entering soft-core porn... that we have all CHOSEN to ignore the REAL reality of our daily lives.
You have to wonder about a world that is against gay marriage, not focused on improving education, finding more creative ways to destroy ourselves instead of bettering humanity, finding solutions for alternative power (by canceling the battery patents the oil companies hold hostage), curing hunger and disease... but is seemingly fine with exploiting children and others as a means of misdirection and population control and manipulation.
In essence, Reality TV serves one purpose: Panem et Circenses — Latin for "Bread and Circuses" — A phrase popularized by Roman satirist and poet Juvenal to describe how those in power can stay in power: giving out cheap food and entertainment. Interestingly, in addition to the "cheap entertainment" of Reality TV, fast food is pervasive in our society... with every outlet now offering a $1 menu........ but I digress.
Of course, this is just my opinion... I could be wrong.