January 22, 2024
Trish Arab

Should there be Agism in Reality TV (2 minute read)

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Grey's Anatomy is the longest-running drama series in TV history. Some of the original cast reunited on the stage at the Emmys last week and, in their comments, eluded to the changes in the cast over the years.

Obviously, most of us who watch the show know that there were a lot of controversial cast changes, some stemming from the storyline but a lot from behind-the-scenes drama and conflicts, particularly with show creator Shonda Rimes (I'm looking at you, Patrick Dempsey)(put reference link)

Recently, I watched one of Bravo TV's newest reality shows, "Southern Hospitality," a show that focuses on 20 something working at an upscale bar in Charleston and the chaos that ensues when their private lives get tangled up in professional life (like so many amazing shows before them) and I started making the comparison between this show and its predecessor "Vanderpump Rules" which is essentially the exact same show only it takes place in Los Angeles and has lost some of its shine.

The reason is it's not as much fun to watch people work and f*ck their way through life in their 40s as it was when they were in their 20s. A totally ageist opinion, I know, but this premise isn't fun when your characters are over 35; it just looks pathetic.

Which then brought me back to Greys. This show was meant to focus on residents trying to find their way in a prestigious Seattle hospital and the complications of life-and-death situations and personal interactions that happen in those early growing pain years. I think part of why this show works and has lasted as long as it has is because of those aforementioned cast changes.

Each season, we get new residents with new quarks, and even though they face a lot of the similar situations that the first cast did, the fact that they are new makes this drama far more realistic than the reality show that refuses to get rid of typical fan favourites even when they are past their best before date.

I doubt that the majority of these cast changes had ageism as the motivator, but maybe it's time for my friends in reality TV programming to take a page from the Shonda Rimes playbook. If life in the 2020s has taught us anything, it is the knowledge that around every corner, there is a fresh-faced 20-something hoping to make it big just by being themselves.

The new Tom Sandoval is out there, bartender at a hot LA restaurant, wannabe musician/actor - I mean, this isn't really a diamond in the rough we are searching for, and this new player in the reality TV scene would also come in without the baggage of an international scandal weighing them down. (When I saw "scandoval" trending on the CNN ticker back in March 2023, I knew Vanderpump Rules had solidified its place in the pop culture lexicon)

However, instead of new faces popping up on reality TV, what we have are the current players all searching for the "Scandoval" moment (and hopefully the endorsements and open doors received by the betrayed Arianna Maddox). I'm talking about Lindsay and Carl from "Summer House" and even Heather Gay from the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City." just looking for this jaw-dropping reality TV moment, when really, in my opinion, if you haven't achieved it by now, it isn't going to happen.   Let's bring reality back to reality TV and stop trying to "naturally" produce the chaos that frankly happens to each of us every day on its own but is way more entertaining when it's happening in real time to someone else.