When Reality TV Is Real… No One Is Watching

By Emerald Pellot

Pop Matters, August 3, 2011

Looking into the real world of failed reality show Triple Rush

 

“I thought they’d come out with the show and it would be totally fake,” says 23-year-old Dillon Roberts with a laugh, “but it turns out this is the one new reality show that is actually more reality than fake.” Roberts is sitting on the edge of a mattress in his studio apartment in Greenpoint,Brooklynholding a Pabst Blue Ribbon as his chuckle tapers off. It would have been great if Triple Rush, the failed reality show he starred in aboutNew York Citybicycle messengers, had been a sham – but it wasn’t. The show, which premiered April 14th on the Travel Channel, was yanked off the air after only three episodes highlighting the fact that audiences may not want as much reality as they think in their reality television.

Triple Rush featured the “chaotic” experience of being a bicycle messenger in the Big Apple by following the daily activities of three courier companies, Quik Trak, Mess Kollective and Breakaway. What’s interesting about Triple Rush, however, is not the show itself, but why the show foundered and what this reveals about audience’s expectations from reality TV shows today.

It means a lot when your reality TV show is, in essence, a sham. For Snooki, the breakout star of MTV’s Jersey Shore, it meant a leap from $3,000 an episode to $30,000, the publication of her first novel A Shore Thing and appearances on shows like The View and Letterman. If you’re Kim Kardashian of Keeping Up With The Kardashians it means newfound fame and notoriety, your own fragrance and oh yeah, that whole sex-tape thing with rap star Ray J. is water under the bridge. It means a whole lot to be a part of this great reality TV thing— if your show is a bamboozle. That is, if it’s not contrived, sensationalized, edited, dramatized, provoked, orchestrated and manipulated enough to be “good,” then you’re just Dillon Roberts, a bicycle messenger with a few extra bucks and a girlfriend who thinks your job is kind of stupid.

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