Lately, it’s been feeling like Variety‘s the industry-media cheerleader for Reality television. A couple of weeks ago, when the Bachelor in Paradise alleged sexual assault story was still hot, Variety featured an interview with an anonymous dating show producer. The purpose of this, I guess, was to argue that if what was purported to have happened on the Paradise set actually happened then it was an outlier.
Nope. Two industry commenters on that Variety article and one industry commenter here (um, me) can amply attest to this.
This week Variety ran an article entitled “Reality Crews Get Rush From Toughest Shoots” arguing that reality crews (and cast members) being abused was A-OK because they had some crew members go on record saying how much they enjoyed these situations. Evidence provided:
From a Camera Op on Are You the One?…
“Twelve-hour days are typical for us […] But it can be rewarding, and it’s a really cool job. There’s a camaraderie that comes from working together and putting your passion into it — no matter how vacuous some of these shows can be.”
And a longtime operator on Amazing Race who shares that…
… there’s no such thing as an average day. He and a sound tech will follow a pair of contestants nonstop, sometimes for as long as 24 hours → straight, capturing whatever the contestants do. “If they decide to sleep on the airport floor, there we are 10 feet away sleeping too,” he says. “Physically, it’s very demanding. We get tired.” And you can’t take a break, he explains. “If someone is running, you can’t tell them to slow down so you can catch up. You just have to keep up. There are no do-overs or second takes.”
Now, I don’t want to shit talk these shooters or deny them their experiences. Hey, if they want to work 24-hour days and believe that…
…. the show is better when the job is grueling. “Of course it’s tough when you’re trying to take a nap in the middle of the night on a piece of cardboard in a train station,” he says. “But those toughest times are the best opportunities to make the show better. If we’re having a tough time as a crew, that will translate to the best experience for the audience.”
More power to them. Maybe I just don’t care enough about audience pleasure when it comes to crew safety.
The same kind of comments were made by friends of Bryce Dion, an audio operator shot by police during a shooting of Cops. A close friend asserted that Bryce loved the show and his work on it, and that he liked to talk all about it at parties. I’m sure he did. Insider Reality stories make for great party talk and I have my own favorites that I roll out for entertainment. But is great party talk worth dying for?
Dion is not around to tell us.
Personally, I’d prefer to be that basic bitch getting drunk in the corner with no tales worth telling. All I see is a crew working long hours that lead to longterm health consequences, or death – whether on the job or in car crashes following the kind of 24 hour shoots praised above.
So far on Reality television:
- Crew and cast members died in at least two helicopter crashes including the one on the French TV show Dropped shown below …
- Monica Martino, a Reality producer, was severely injured on a poorly planned shoot in the Amazon
- Cast members had to be hospitalized on She’s Got Game after an insane midday sprint up Runyon Canyon
- At least one producer on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta had a gun held to his head.
And, of course, there’s the death of Bryce Dion.
In my opinion, none of these incidents would have been worth it in the shoot of an Oscar-winning epic film, let alone a shitty reality show.
But what does my opinion matter? I don’t write for Variety.
::UPDATE:: And what is Variety if not the mouthpiece for the industry? Shouldn’t we hold our industry mouthpiece to a higher standard than BJ-ing companies in flagrant violation of labor law and suggesting that such violations are fun!