My friend Brett revels in other people’s misery. He is one with his TiVo, missing nary an episode of too many reality shows. He howls when calamity befalls certain characters and critiques their actions (or performances in the talent competitions), yelling at his HD behemoth with either the conviction of a Baptist congregation or the ruthlessness of a tough love counselor.
I have always wondered why we need reality shows (except during the writer strike last year) when we have CNN’s coverage of the elections, Midwest floods … and does anybody remember the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Nevertheless, reality shows — propelled in the early 1990s with MTV’s The Real World, which put a young Latino face on the AIDS epidemic with cast member Pedro Zamora’s crusade to educate his generation about the pandemic (one of precious few meaningful subplots of any show) — have become a staple of prime time.
Reality shows have a firm grip on the networks’ highly desirable 18- to 25-year-old viewers — and the Coachella Valley has enjoyed its fair share of air time as a setting (Bravo’s Boy Meets Boy and the nationally televised wedding between Trista Rehn, star of ABC’s The Bachelorette, and Ryan Sutter were filmed in Rancho Mirage) and as a place to find talent.
Our June cover story featured Palm Springs’ Stefanie Schaeffer, the winner of The Apprentice in 2007 who now works in sales and marketing at one of Donald Trump’s properties.
This month, we introduce La Quinta native Aubrey O’Day (“The Real Show Stopper"), lead singer of the wildly popular all-girl band Danity Kane, a pop group selected by hip-hop impresario Sean “Puffy” Combs in MTV’s Making the Band. Danity Kane became the first all-girl group to have their first two albums hit No. 1 upon release.
Maybe I’ve missed some real talent in all this reality TV. But that’s OK. Brett keeps me current regardless of my indifference, and we at Palm Springs Life pursue the stories that TV neglects: what happens in the careers and personal lives of local winners after the cameras turn to new contestants.