Occupation Web Developer/publicist
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? Oh, my goodness! Why’d they play it twice and back-to-back? Once wasn’t enough? Understand I’m not a hater, but it was very annoying. She spoke to her son and said things like, “Do you love me more than all the raindrops in the world?” It was all about her ego. She’s on all the time. I don’t know if it’s an act or if it’s drugs. She played into so many of the clichés: talking in her whiny, sexy baby voice, getting caught under the table so that her behind was in the air. It can’t be about money because she has money.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? Its attraction is that you get all these behind-the-scenes looks.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? Bill Clinton, and how he’s made the transition to a private life. He’s so full of life. I’m sure he has stuff going on that I’d want to know about. I don’t think his family is dysfunctional, but they must have made some real compromises and sacrifices and that makes it real.
Occupation Company manager
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? No. I avoid reality television like the plague.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? It’s a reflection of the intelligence of the American people. It’s a little voyeurism and maybe people want a mind-numbing experience.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. I just want to see how stupid George Bush is. He’s got to be the stupidest idiot in the world. Al Gore’s a brilliant guy who lost because he couldn’t shut up. If he runs again, he’s going to have to learn the art of the sound bite. The American people just want to hear nothing. That’s what George Bush gave them in the year leading up to the election. Dick Cheney’s not stupid, he’s just evil.
Occupation Film student
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? No, I’ve never even heard of it.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? Certain people who don’t watch regular television watch reality TV. I know people who go by the code “Kill Your TV” and they watch reality TV because it’s closer to real life. I sometimes watch The Osbournes or The Real World, if there’s a good conflict going on.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? George W. Bush. I’d like to see him losing his cool or yelling at his kids. Or Madonna. I’d like to see what her daily routine is like. Maybe I’d like to see the two of them engaged in a weekly card game.
Resides New Jersey
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? No, I was one of the few people who didn’t. I heard it got a mixed response. Mostly, what drugs was she taking?
What’s the attraction of reality TV? People want to see what other people’s outlooks are. When they watch it they want to see what they have in common, but they also want to be able to say to themselves, “At least my problems aren’t that bad.”
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? Oprah Winfrey. I am fascinated by her. She preaches all about living your best life and she makes it all look so effortless. What does that really look like?
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? I didn’t see the show but I saw the trailers. She’s really the one I’d like to take a seminar from, because she has no ethics or standards. It’s all about chasing the buck. She’s right on target for America. I’ve never been able to live like that. At least with the Osbournes you get the feeling that there may not be a lot of parental authority, but there’s a lot of love. Also a lot of reverse psychology. They don’t restrain their kids and the result is that they’re less inclined to do drugs and run wild.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? People like to sit and watch conflict and drama in the comfort of their own homes. They don’t have to go out and be adventurous. They know there’s a price to pay for living life outside the box.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? Actually, I’d like to see a woman in Spanish Harlem, someone trying to raise her kids while getting off Social Services. Real reality television. I’d watch real people making an effort, applying all that self-help stuff they tell you to practice, and then failing. That’s real life, not real TV.
Occupation Graphic designer
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? Yes, it was a train wreck. It was awful. E! was trying to top the Osbournes and I guess they succeeded. I felt so bad for her. She obviously has some serious problems and she decided to bare her issues on television. I couldn’t even finish watching it, and I’m someone who likes reality TV.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? I really don’t know. I guess for all the same reasons we watch Jerry Springer: we like to watch other peoples’ misery. Anna Nicole Smith got great ratings but terrible reviews. I don’t know what that means for the show.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? Woody Allen. I love his movies, but he’s had so much public and private drama in his life. He’s such a neurotic New Yorker that he’d be fun to watch.
Occupation Stand-up comedian
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? No, I only read about it. It’s pretty sad. Here’s a model-wannabe actress who marries an older guy. What else is there? I don’t even do Anna Nicole Smith jokes because she’s not big enough to ridicule. She’s starved for attention. All performers are.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? An escape from reality. You have to look at the reality of most of the audience, though. It’s really not there. TV is so much cheese, but there’s good cheese and bad cheese.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? Richard Pryor if he was healthy, but I guess I’d say President Bush. I don’t think he’s as dumb as they say. You don’t get to be president if you’re a total imbecile. Maybe he’s an idiot savant. If he never had to speak, he’d be able to pull it off better.
Did you watch Anna Nicole Smith’s show? No, I don’t have TV. I need to get some rabbit ears, but I’m too busy to do that or to get cable.
What’s the attraction of reality TV? There’s really no such thing as reality TV, because it all has some artifice to it. The subjects can’t possibly be themselves on television. I think people watch because there’s too little creativity involved in regular television. All the plots have been taken. At least with reality TV there’s a possibility that something spontaneous may happen.
Who would you most like to see a TV show built around? David Bowie. One, because he’s doing so much at his age and so he’s an inspiration. He also has an intense home life, an intense career life, and an intense showman life. I see him in my neighborhood but I’m too shy to speak to him.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 13, 2002