Briers: "Reality shows ruining television as we know it"


Leave it to the great Richard Briers to be able to brilliantly put in to words what I have thought for a long time. With a resume that includes the British comedy classic, The Good Life, along with other notable series in both the British comedy and drama worlds such as Ever Decreasing Circles and Monarch of the Glen, he knows of what he speaks.

According to Briers, there is a danger that quality television drama is over given the meteoric rise of cheap television clogging the airwaves. Briers goes on to say that “…TV is full of cookery, gardening and reality shows that are suffocating new talent“.

While this is a very valid opinion, where or when does it end? Who’s to blame for this? The program commissioners at the network level, the program producers or the audience, whose appetite for these programs never ceases to amaze me? Is it the commissioners / producers / funders saying that they are providing television that has been demonstrated as being the type viewers want to see or are viewers watching more and more of the reality-based, unscripted programs because that’s all there is to watch.

Unfortunately, personal opinion is that the bottom-line is to blame. The reality-based, unscripted programs are cheaper to produce making for a better ROI than really good quality drama or any other genre for that matter. I can somewhat disagree with Briers on a very, very small point. While there may be a great number of the how-to genre for our own good, reality shows are the ones that people need to take aim at. Cooking and gardening can be entertaining, educational and intelligent. When you have shows such as Deal or No Deal, The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, Shedding for the Wedding, Wife Swap or The Nanny, that’s where I see the divide between good and worthless television.

Agree? Disagree?

  • Lisa C.

    Agree! Cooking, gardening, etc. shows are helpful (though some of the cooking competition shows seem to be walking a fine line between helpful and too sensational, especially those that pit several amateur chefs against each other) but those other sorts of reality shows drag down the quality of tv, don’t challenge the viewer, and diminish the quality of human experience to tabloid sensationalism and sensibility (or something like that–it’s hard to describe).

    I also think that those shows hurt people’s sense of narrative, although it’s not that great in any case when people think problems are solved “in thirty minutes” and they don’t realize that a lot of the action happens “off stage” and they ignore those bring-the-audience-up-to-date expositionary lines at the beginning of each new sequence (I’m particularly thinking of American comedies interrupted by commercials) and don’t realize that they’re seeing only the bits of the story that the writer(s) wanted them to see. My issue with those shows is that it always takes one try to solve the problem and it’s always solved successfully, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject :).