Imagine - Jesus reviews TV - Faking It, Wife Swap and Big Brother - by James Archer

Editable and printable version

Please use this as a spur to review your own TV programmes - just make sure that you find something positive in a surprising place.

It may not be what it is aiming for, but I find Faking It spiritually fascinating.  It begs the question, “What is genuine?” and answers it with a story, just like I do.  Are there short-cuts to expertise?  Does it matter how much substance there is underneath so long as you can maintain an appearance?

 

In the first series, a classical singer was asked to appear to be a rock star, and had to decide how far she was prepared to compromise her own personal standards to achieve the objective (on the surface only and not enough to win); and a man who was frightened of dogs became best friends with a playful terrier and won the obstacle gymkhana competition at a dog show.  Both programmes were genuine and it showed, and the participants were obviously changed by the experiment.  In others, a woman was asked to become a celebrity magazine interviewer and a man to be a football manager, but the tasks were so shallow and random that I couldn’t care what happened.

 

Wife Swap is equally fascinating and infuriating.  Why do the producers find it necessary to set up such absurd swaps that create artificial conflict between bigots?  The format is enthralling when you have people you can associate with getting intimately involved with families from different backgrounds – just my speciality – but thoroughly dull when dominated by the cameras.

 

Which leads me, very briefly, to Big Brother.  To adapt Groucho Marx, the producers should not accept anyone one who wants to take part in it.  You couldn’t fake it because there is nothing genuine to fake.  This is the ultimate logic of reality television.  Why would you need to invent hell, when people choose to inflict themselves with this?