There of course is a difference between shows that I just don’t care for, or aren’t that good, and ones that actively drive me crazy. These get me talking to myself.
Let’s start with Celebrity Apprentice. Right off the top, there’s “The Donald,”—and really that’s enough to get on my list. Despite realizing that the show exists mostly to fuel his ego, I actually tolerated it in the beginning—when it was just “The Apprentice.” Back then, real life individuals, soon to be reality stars, competed in a number of challenges as kind of a “hands-on interview” to get a job with one of Trump’s businesses. It reminded me a little of our MBA program, where we frequently did group work. The show also started with two of his most trusted advisers/managers by his side to help evaluate the teams.
Although he quickly wore me down with his contradictory advice and inconsistent decisions, it took a turn for the worse when he started to regularly use “celebrities.” Apparently it wasn’t entertaining enough turning reality stars into celebrities. That took a little tie and effort by the audience.
Now the show has devolved into celebrities often trying to raise as much money as possible by calling other celebrities. The losing project manager usually gets fired—and seemingly the only entertainment value is waiting for a washed-up celebrity going off the deep end. Trump has replaced his advisors with his son and daughter. His son, while sometimes reasonable despite his privileged position, spends his free time killing large animals for fun. The only bright spot left in the show is Trump’s daughter—who is more than quite attractive.
One of the most ridiculous shows, which I believe is still on television (it’s not worth looking up) is Undercover Boss. The repetitive plot goes something like this: The CEO of a company, who really seems more interested in making sure his high school friends know he succeeded in life, goes undercover as a new entry-level employee to learn more about his company. He spends some time learning how difficult the job is or how tough circumstances are for those employees who earn minimum wage-like money.
Then there is the punch line. With grandiosity, he reveals to the employees he worked with that he is not the bumbling idiot he portrayed himself to be, but he is actually the boss (the reveal sometimes takes place in the boss’s mansion). Ha, ha, ha, joke is on you! Then of course, now that the CEO has had his company embarrassed and the way he treats his employees exploited on television, he gets upon a white horse and pays for college or something for the lucky employee (and nothing to say about the other employees). It’s an absurd notion—really, who doesn’t know that people making low wages have tough lives?
Finally, one of my wife’s favorite genres is the home improvement/real estate shows. I can often tolerate these shows, especially Property Brothers, but it depends on the family the show is working with. There is something about a young couple buying a $500K house that drives me crazy. Where did they get all that money? Do they work for their dad, did they inherit it? But it is not just that, it’s the lack or perspective that accompanies the whining and crying to get their “dream home.” I know these shows actively set up drama, but a 24 year old complaining that a mile walk to the beach is just not acceptable, is hardly endearing. Regardless of how they got wealthy beyond their years (dream homes are for people in their 40s and 50s), do they have to go on television to show to the world that anything beyond an open concept kitchen and granite counter tops is capable of bringing them to tears. Finally, there is the negotiating. Many couples embarrass themselves and their real estate agent when they make absurd offers on the property they desire. Annoyingly spoiled and apparently absent of perspective, they’ve lost touch with how most people live.
I acknowledge that my annoyance is primarily based on the haves and have nots. And my bias is amplified when it seems that the haves need to flaunt it and make sure that others are entertained by their success. Sometimes enough never is.