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Published:August 28th, 2009 16:32 EST
The Death of Scripted Television... Is It Dying?

The Death of Scripted Television... Is It Dying?

By Jesse Roman Natuik

When one looks back a decade or so, almost everything that was filmed for television was made for a half an hour time slot or even one full hour, but there wasn`t anything "reality" about it. I remember when I was growing up in elementary school, besides the many cartoon re-runs of Pokémon, Digimon, Care Bears and Rugrats, the vast majority of television that was viewed by myself, my sister, my cousins or anyone older then myself were shows like Home Improvement, Full House, the Drew Carey Show, Friends, etc... However, somewhere between then and Junior High, another breed of programming was taking shape again, and it was called reality. 

Reality Televison... ?

I remember one of the first reality shows that I saw was the first season of American Idol back in 2002. There were other reality shows dating back to the 1040`s such as Candid Camera, the Miss America Pageant and Cops, but it hadn`t really made a splash yet into mainstream viewing. MTV didn`t start this new trend, but it sure helped it out with the Real World. Let`s not forget the Hills as a reality (*cough* scripted) show too.

The early 2000`s was the reality TV boom. From then on, it only seemed to increase my interest into shows like Survivor, Paradise Hotel, and yes, I will admit, the Simple Life. Scripted shows were still big, and I caught on to shows such as Heroes and Lost, but my interest slowly died out because I was missing the dramatic outbursts and yelling and scheming that no scripted show could produce, and honestly, scripted shows were getting boring, especially the drama ones. 

When the writers` strike happened from 2007 - 2008 and all writers stopped writing scripts for shows, what else could stations do but air a heck load of reality TV - and then the game show craze sprouted as well. This was probably the turning point. There are only so many re-runs of a sitcom or drama that someone could watch, and reality shows went from the Biggest Loser (another season aired almost as quickly as the previous season ended), to Survivor (a new season started literally only a couple months after the previous ended), to Big Brother (had its first winter season), to Deal or No Deal, to Paradise Hotel (which was renewed for a second season after several years of absence), to many others that are know no longer in production.

There was also a wave of game shows that exploded from the Spelling Bee, Are You Smarter Then A Fifth Grader, some I don`t even remember because they only lasted two days, and God only knows what else. Game shows like Jeopardy! Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire will stand the test of time for decades ahead. 

Now that 2009 will soon be ending, and the fall season is approaching, you can`t help but notice the lack of originality of some scripted shows that will be premiering. Jay Leno has taken up the 10PM time slot for his new talk show, so that`s almost four hours of talk shows in a row! Most of the new fall shows will get cancelled after the first few episodes, and the chances of getting another Lost or Grey`s Anatomy are slim, but I`m hoping... kinda.

There is no doubt that reality television is the cash cow that is making scripted shows extinct. Big Brother, American Idol, America` Got Talent, the Amazing Race, Hell`s Kitchen, Jon and Kate Plus 8, America`s Next Top Model, MTV, the Biggest Loser, Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, Project Runway, the Bachelor, and so on and so forth, will probably only get more popular. Everyone watches at least two of these if not more (like me)... and I can`t wait for Survivor, the Amazing Race and the Biggest Loser to start up again. :)