In 1992, MTV produced “The Real World” which set the standard for the genre of reality television. Seeing that reality television satisfied the need for entertainment to be as realistic as possible, MTV began producing a wave of reality dating shows to try to produce what people wanted. These shows, however, were nothing less than scripted and it was so obvious. However, the premises of these shows were based on real people which is what MTV needed to satisfy the “reality entertainment revolution”. They were based off of real people, but the situations were, for lack of a better term, stupid.
For example, “Next” was a show where one 18-23 year old guy or girl (18-23 being MTV’s target audience…adding more reality!) would go on blind dates. There would be 5 different blind dates secluded in the “Next Bus” and one by one they would leave the bus for their structured and cheesily scripted date. The date would be timed and if the bachelor or bachelorette, at any time, doesn’t like the person they say “next”. To which the date would end and that person would get $1 for each minute they were on the date. If you were on the date for more than an hour, you can either chose to go on a second date or “take the money and run”. Now as absurd as this whole concept seems, you probably are thinking that this type of situation could possibly be reality. It is very obviously scripted, but in theory it could be real. Well you feel this way because this isn’t the most ridiculous of the shows.
There was also Room Raiders where MTV would break into each of the three 20-something contestants’ houses, take them away from whatever they were doing, and throw them in a van where they would watch the bachelor or bachelorette look through their rooms. In the end, the bachelor/bachelorette would choose their date based on the contents of their room….what? Apart from that sounding totally illegal and the fact that all the dialogue was very corny jokes about the dirty laundry or the porn under the bed, this show seems totally bizarre and not under any definition of “reality” at all. But wait…it gets worse.
MTV’s “Exposed” was a show where there was a 20-something bachelor or bachelorette that went on a date with two people at the same time. While getting to know both of their dates, the bachelor/bachelorette would listen through an earpiece to their friend in a “surveillance van” that had “lie detecting software”. The friend would tell them if the dates were lying or not and obviously they were because it’s a first date…so I guess there is some reality in this show. In the end they would choose their date having the “lie detection” information in mind. Even though there is absolutely no way that’s how lie detection software works. HOW IS THIS REAL?
As ridiculous and shameful this part of television history is for MTV, I find it HILARIOUS that concepts like this even existed. And even though its weird to say so, these shows were pretty damn creative. I’m just glad they stopped making them.