I’m usually not a huge fan of reality television. I understand that it’s cheap to produce—put a group of people in a strange situation, add a camera, and edit for drama. Voila! Must see TV! It’s just typically not my cup of tea.
I admit to liking Survivor. It’s a cross-section of people in competition. It’s not only Man vs. Man, but Man vs. Nature, and, in some cases, Man vs. Self. Some seasons are better than others, but I prefer it to watching kids getting drunk or moms teasing their daughter’s hair.
Right now, and for the next few weeks, my very favorite reality TV is playing around the clock. It has almost every element of Survivor—except for snakes and tarantulas. It’s the summer Olympics.
I watch in the mornings as I’m getting ready for work and in the evenings as I’m doing my chores, fixing dinner, and settling down for bed. The stories of victory and heartbreak are just part of the coverage.
I find myself cheering for team USA in events that I never before thought of as a sport. I watch kids spin and flip and I pray that they don’t hurt themselves. I ask myself, “How do you learn to do something like that?” I can only imagine what their moms must be thinking as they watch.
Most reality programs don’t catch my attention for one simple reason—they aren’t very real. When I was choosing a mate, I didn’t have a mansion full of bachelors waiting for a lapel rose. I never shared an apartment with a dozen other twenty-somethings. I never had any occasion to submerge myself in a vat of leeches.
The Olympics focus on the true struggles that every athlete faces to compete against the best challengers in the world. These warriors come from our hometowns. They fight against financial troubles, school situations, family tragedies and personal injuries—and that’s just to get the opportunity to compete in the games. They forfeit the activities that most people their age consider part of everyday life, and they do it to spend countless hours in training. Let’s face it; even if cartwheels and back flips are your favorite things to do, after six continuous hours of them, you’re probably ready for a nap.
The fact that these swimmers, tumblers, runners, rowers, riders, kickers and skeet shooters don’t give up on their dreams makes them amazing heroes to me.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.