Trash or Class?

Rachel Lu

A cartoon screenshot of a producer's email inbox. Photo Illustration by Yimeng Han and Angela Liu.

Scandalous reality shows are more than just entertainment, they are today’s new therapy sessions. Especially with New Jersey becoming the new stars with the portrayal of tanned bodies, fake nails, big hair, and heavy makeup have created an inaccurate image of Italian-Americans, making them seem like shallow and overly dramatic people. The actual “reality” of these shows are called into question because the drama comes of staged or scripted. Focusing on characters  that exaggerate certain stereotypes is cruel, but it still tops the charts in the pop culture world.

Watching reality television is like meeting new people in the comfort of their own homes. Making fun of the outrageous egos is easy with an “at least it’s not me” mentality. Despite how mundane life can be, at least the viewers still have their dignity and are not making fools of themselves on national television. However, this formula can only hold viewers attention for so long before they return to scripted television.

Fortunately, there are still respectable shows out there like AMC’s multi-award winning series ìMad Menî which captures the essence of the 1960’s, with all its clean, wholesome glamour. It seems that while people enjoy making themselves feel better about their lives by making fun of the stars of “Jersey Shore,” they need to also keep things classy by revisiting an older era. With “Mad Men,” the old times are revitalized to keep up with modern culture while keeping many stylistic elements including the fashion and the ideals of the time.

Of course, anything with a script still uses intense, sometimes unrealistic drama just like reality shows, but they do it in a much more dignified manner. As NBC and ABC catch on with the classic times, both are creating new shows based in the 1960’s, “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am” respectively, even in the previews the differences can be seen. For “Pan Am,” Frank Sinatra can be heard serenading in the background, a far cry from the pumping electronic dance beats heard in “Jersey Shore.” Although these period programs are not without their flaws, they possess an authenticity that reality TV can ironically never match.

With guilty pleasure shows tempting viewers everyday, they may win a few over for a few episodes, but itís still the thoughtfully scripted shows that win out viewers for season after season.