Trouble Cometh

The Truth of Reality TV

The Truth of Reality TV

In Trouble Cometh, we explore different desires and goals of the characters in Joe’s life. As Joe struggles with what is probably one of his greatest challenges in life—to create a hit reality TV show in 72 hours—he soon realizes that reality may not be as it seems.

Trouble Cometh has indeed triggered some of my thoughts on reality TV. It seems like something that a lot of us come across often, but also something that we don’t really give much thought to. So, how does reality TV work? David Rupel’s article How Reality TV Works? provides a good glimpse into the truth of reality TV:

1.) Planned & Followed Stories

A planned story is a show composed of heavily formatted contents. Prior to the shooting, writers are asked to generate dramatic elements for the show. Since everything is pretty much planned out from the beginning, shooting for a 1-hour episode usually takes a few days only.

Contrarily, a followed story is a show that has very little structure. The production team follows the cast around and captures everyday events. The story editors then sift through days or weeks of footage to find compelling stories. Since the timing of these stories are difficult to predict, these shows typically have  longer shooting schedules.

Regardless of the nature of the show, contents are inevitably manipulated; what matters is When.

2.) Less is More

We all admire authenticity. It is not surprising to hear audience complaining, “why can’t they show the real story?” I agree with  David’s comment, that, “as someone who has literally watched tens of thousands of hours of raw footage, nobody is interesting all of the time. I don’t care if it’s Omarosa, or Richard Hatch, or Puck—if you watch every second of someone’s life, the majority of it is quite boring.” Well, if you think that someone from a reality show is overwhelmingly insane, think twice! He or she might just be a victim who gets ‘chosen’.

3.) The Gap Fillers

Generating a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end is difficult for unscripted shows. We can’t control the way real people act! To solve this problem, the production team has to look to other means to fill in the missing gaps of stories, such as moving around footage, creating missing scenes through interview bites, and shaping non-existent stories through scenes with similar emotional beats.

Next time when you find some TV shows intriguingly real, you know what’s up! Trouble Cometh‘s staged until June 27.



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