A new survey from The Associated Press and TV Guide finds that four out of five Americans think there are too many reality shows on the air, but I think pop-culture snobs who would use that figure to start writing the genre’s obituary are mistaken.
For starters, a lot of people I know would be reluctant to admit to a pollster how much they like some of these shows, especially since many critics like to trash reality TV in general. But let’s be honest, for every woeful Britney & Kevin: Chaotic or The Cut there’s a wonderful Amazing Race or Dancing With the Stars. Can I get an ”amen” from everyone who enjoys the latter programs every bit as much as scripted goodies like Arrested Development or CSI: Miami?
Secondly, as the novelty of reality continues to wear off, and the genre matures, viewers are learning to separate the Survivors from the Average Joes, much as they do with sitcoms and dramas. Sure, there’s too much reality, but poll respondents also said there are too many crime dramas and talk shows.
Anyhow, the real proof of reality TV’s prognosis is in the ratings — and the ad rates. Fox just announced it will charge a record $705,000 for a 30-second spot when the fifth season of American Idol kicks off in January. Sounds pretty healthy to me.