Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Despite Shows, The Real, Real World Persists

DC is in the midst of a mini reality show boom. We're currently in a tizzy about the Real World, whose house is rumored to be quite close to the 42 bus line. I also wrote about it a few months ago, to varying amounts of praise and criticism. The show is about a small group of 20-somethings mostly living carefree in a ridiculously appointed house and no responsibilities to pay for rent, food or drink.

And that news was right on the heels of another television announcement: Real Housewives is taping a DC show. This Bravo network series is about he extravagant and ostentatious lives of mostly wealthy, married (or not) women. There are more scenes filmed at the mall, than at the "house."

Finally, lest you've forgotten, the Blond Charity Mafia has wrapped on filming and is set to air on the CW this fall. I'm not making a joke. The name of the show is Blond Charity Mafia. It's about some Georgetown A-listers who run the party circuit and related social scenes that go along with that whole culture. I never have and never will. But I'll watch an episode or two.

All of the lavish, reality-for-some, exaggerated-reality-for-others, spendy, edited for TV shows bend the definition of "reality" but are popular for the most part. Contrast that with this article form the New York Times: Parental Lifelines, Frayed to Breaking. Each of these kids, having lived their own version of the Real World, on their parents expense, are now having the rug pulled out form underneath. No more subsidized Brooklyn lofts. No more artificial rent ceilings created by parents' 401K. No more really attractive people TRYING to look bummy. And no more really busted people TRYING to look attractive (thanks Bri!). Maybe in another 25 years Williamsburg and Greenpoint will revert to their normal state, with reasonable rents to match.

See, that's the reality. Maybe it will hit DC at some point. Sure, the rich have to let go of one of the maids. Or send the youngest child to $10,000/year private school instead of $25K. The reality is not $1,000 per plate fundraisers or 3 nights a week partying at Halo. It isn't that second pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or living cost free in a mini mansion on S Street. The reality is your parents pulling the plug on 25+ years of total financial support. Or taking a second job to pay the rent. Or giving up on your grad school dream. Or realizing you might not be able to pay the mortgage next month. That's the reality I see in DC every day. But a hit TV show, does not a sad story make. Escapism, yes. Reality, not so much. Will I watch? Certainly.