Ever since last summer, people constantly refer to Trump as a “reality TV star.”
Everyone calls The Bachelor a “reality show.”
Amazing Race, Survivor, Big Brother. They’re all billed as reality shows.
And we joke about how “reality shows” are not based in reality and everyone laughs knowingly.
But it’s worse than that. Not only are “reality shows” not reality, they aren’t even actually reality shows. They are game shows. There’s a difference.
Whenever there is a competition and people are vying for a prize? That’s a game show. There is a winner and there are losers. It’s a game.
Reality shows, whether actually true or not, give the audience a look at something. Come see our life. Join us on our job for a day. This is where I live and how I spend my days.
The Bachelor is a game show. And everyone thinks the winner is whichever girl the bachelor picks at the end, but that’s not even true. The winner is the bachelor. He was selected by producers before the show ever started. He isn’t choosing the winner, he’s choosing his prize.
Over on The Apprentice, back when Trump was in charge and it still had viewers, how many times did you see his home life? I watched that show religiously the first several seasons and only remember one time where it ever showed his home. A couple of times where Melania made quick appearances or even received mentions. And a handful of times when it showed him in one of his offices, but not doing any actual work.
Trump wasn’t a reality show star. That wasn’t a reality show. It’s not like Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Deadliest Catch. It’s a game show. He was a game show host.
They are different. And they are different for a reason. We all know the Kardashians stage things and re-shoot scenes when they say something wrong or whatever. It’s a carefully curated reality, of course. But there are things about it that are true. With game shows, you have to assume everything you see is for show. Everything. And that’s why the difference matters.