27 August 2006 | KUAlum26
To me,THIS is a reality show
The phrase "reality show" has been stretched so far that it would snap even if it were taffy. Whether it's pseudo-documentary style trash or endurance competitions that seem like game shows on steroids,it seems like there are very few true "reality" programs. Sometimes,these reality shows can have something constructive or vaguely positive about them(I'm thinking of "Nanny 911","Super NAny","Project MAkeoever:Home Edition" as examples)or actually seem like they are following the trek of a realistic situation,or as close as they can get to having one(The Restaurant or Tommy Lee Go to College come to mind),but rarely does a reality show--in my mind--aim to AND create positive results,showing opposite sides of an issue or opposite lifestyles and portray them with some respect,instead of merely breeding conflict. "30 Days" does that,and for the most part,it's effective.
Host Morgan Spurlock,whose Supersize Me from 2004 was a surprise break-out hit of a documentary, employs the same type of tactic here as he did in his film. Using a month's time to introduce someone to a different philosophy and/or culture. Whether it's the white American Christian trying to live as a Muslim,a macho Marine living in a Gay neighborhood and house,a member of the Minutemen group(a group of border citizens who try to stem illegal immigrants at the U.S./Mexico border)living with a family of illegal immigrants from Mexico,an Atheist living with Christians,an American working in India where call-centers train natives to "sound more American"(as per outsourcing) and a pro-choice woman living and working at a pro-life birth and counseling center. I know there are other shows,I haven't sen all of them,but I've sen enough of this series' episodes to say that I am quite impressed with this show and its aims.
The "fish-out-of-water" concept for a television reality show is such a delicate endeavor:basically,it seems like a set-up for either showing up the participant or showcasing the group the participant has joined as being rubes,fanatics or a combination of both. But this show takes great pains to explain and document both sides of the issue,with Spurlock interviewing members of both sides and giving those involved(And in some cases,those allied with both sides)as much time as possible in front of the camera to vent misgivings,discoveries and feelings. Very similar to other reality programs,but--as alluded before--it's the outcomes and the intent of this show is what pleases me.
To those who don't believe reality shows can be used to evoke interest,educate and make attempts to build bridges as opposed to burning them,I would point them to this show and hope that more people(as well as FX network)give this a chance.