Friday, December 02, 2005

Poll Results: What Reality Show Would You Do Best On?

Well isn't that interesting.

This poll had either the highest or second highest voter turnout in the time that I've been doing polls, twenty voters. Part of this is due to my not getting the question changed as fast as I should have - I still wonder if people were voting on shows you watch most before I changed the question - meaning more time to vote. Another part is that this is an issue that polarizes people, and adding the final response has to have had an effect on voting. If I had made Big Brother or The Apprentice a choice and dropped Reality TV is a pox on society I'm convinced that I wouldn't get the turn-out that I did.

So let's take a look at the results. There were 20 votes and amazingly (in my opinion anyway) every show got at least one vote. In sixth place - with one vote (5%) - was Biggest Loser. In fifth place with two votes (10%) was Survivor. In a tie for third place with three votes each (15%) were American Idol and Fear Factor. In second place - and really the winner of the actual shows - with four votes (20%) was The Amazing Race. Finally the biggest vote getter was Reality TV is a pox on society. That option earned seven votes a whopping 35% of the people who voted.

The two low vote getters are interesting. Biggest Loser certainly requires a specialized group of contestants. Most people probably wouldn't be suitable for the show. Survivor on the other hand may well be the hardest of the reality programs if the current series is to be believed. It is a tough competition and Lydia (from this season's show) has the bug bites to prove it. Now Fear Factor and American Idol are a study in contrasts. Fear Factor seems like it's something anyone with a certain amount of athletic abilities and a strong stomach can do - in fact there are a couple of bloggers named Tanya and Jim Ryno who are lobbying to get on Fear Factor as part of a Burger King contest (Hey guys!). On the other hand I didn't expect as high a vote for American Idol. I mean sure, almost everybody thinks they can sing, but to do really well you really have to be able to sing.

The Amazing Race is my favourite of course. I regard it as the Cadillac of Reality-Competition programs and it's a show that I think I could do really well on even though, because I'm a Canadian, I'll never get a chance (I did vote for it here once). The show has it's share of physical challenges of course but in most seasons the physical aspect is combined with a mental and intellectual side which I think I'd do well at. Moreover the travel side is most appealing, to the point where I think that most of the teams who appeared in this year's Family Edition (an experiment I hope they never ever repeat) were disappointed that with the exception of a couple of excursions to Panama and Costa Rica they haven't been out of the United States. The opportunity to experience what to many of us is the exotic is what makes The Amazing Race attractive both to the viewer and the competitor.

I confess I'm sort of depressed - but not at all surprised - by the result for Reality TV is a pox on society. I don't watch every Reality-Competition show - in fact of the shows listed I only watch Survivor and The Amazing Race - but at their core they can be a fun alternative. That there may be too many on the air is something that is hard to deny, particularly when so many show few if any originality, but the fact that all five of the shows I have named not only are still on the air but have drawn strong enough ratings to be renewed has to say something abut the genre. And to be sure, if I had asked whether people would rather watch Joey or Survivor I think the response would have been overwhelming in favour of the reality show (Survivor vs. Lost may be a different story). I'm convinced that for as long as the networks put on expensive dreck like Joey, Reality-Competition shows will not just survive but thrive.

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