13 July, 2007

Reality Shows Come of Age?

MTV’s the Real World debuted in May of 1992, introducing to millions of viewers the sexual mores and antics of America’s youth. Now about to celebrate it’s 20th season, the Real World isn’t reeling in the viewers quite like it used to and MTV is finding that the short-attention-span audience it spawned is paying attention (for the next 5 seconds at least) somewhere else.

It was the Real World that made me a regular MTV watcher back in the day and it was the Real World that turned me into a reality show junkie – except now I don’t watch them on MTV. The issue is that while MTV has remained the same, its loyal viewers from fifteen or more years ago have grown older. We find ourselves much more intrigued by people who’ve actually lived more than two fully grown years on the planet.

Case in point… My new favorite guilty pleasure is NBC’s Age of Love, the series that pits 20-somethings against 40-somethings in the quest for the attention of a 31-year-old gorgeous guy. I had the opportunity to watch this show with the daughter of a friend. As the women in their 40s continued to impress tennis pro and bachelor Mark Philippoussis with their conversational skills, poise and self-confidence, my 23 year-old friend yells out, “That’s not fair! Those girls are dumb.” Before I knew it I replied, “Do you think it was that hard for the producers to find eight dumb girls in their 20s?” Now before I get a lot of hate mail from the younger set, let me just say for the record this was not a very PC thing to say, and I know not all 20-somethings have the IQ of a pretzel, but hey, you do have Paris Hilton. Can you blame me?

Anyway… It occurred to me that MTV and these young women had a lot in common. They each assumed that youth would win the day but are quickly learning that there’s a whole lot of competition out there.

--Gay Pinder, Director of Program Development

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