Consider the Alternatives

Is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition some kind of exploitation? This seems to be the best thing some in the media could think of to ask of this positive reality show. I don’t like reality shows in general, but I do like this one.

Joe Scarborough interviews Melissa Caldwell of the Parent’s Television Council on his show, and there are excerpts and comments on MSNBC titled Extreme Makeover or Extreme Exploitation?. Scarborough’s problem seems to be the idea that ABC and the show’s producers are looking for people with particular types of problems in order to make the show entertaining. Some problems are better subjects for television than others. Caldwell points out, quite correctly that they could hardly look for middle class families with no problems; they’d be criticized for ignoring the needy.

Frankly, I think it’s obvious that there would be a selection process, and that the process would not involve simply asking how needy the person was. It’s a reality show, after all. It has to be entertaining to attract viewers, and it has to attract viewers to attract sponsors, and if anyone out there still thinks reality shows are real, then somebody needs to hand them their “stupid” signs (with a nod to Bill Engvall, via Snopes). Of course they edit it to make it more entertaining. But the media can’t really have fun unless they’re looking for scandal.

Frankly, I don’t really watch many shows on ABC. At the moment this is one that I do watch from time to time, and my wife watches regularly. Why? It’s positive, and even if they look for families who will make good television, they do pick families who need the help. So the help is a drop in the bucket. Habitat for Humanity provides housing for more people. But as a positive activity for a television show, both in terms of helping people, and in terms of positivie influence, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is pretty good.

Just think of how much money was spent on Temptation Island on Fox. How many people did that help? The money’s going to be spent. Let’s not get picky when some of it is going to a good cause.

UPDATE COMMENT: I forgot to mention the original source of the story was Smoking Gun.

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