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Is DNA exoneration too real for reality TV?

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Craigwatkins_l

Craigwatkins_lA new reality show will tackle the growing use of DNA evidence to exonerate wrongly convicted criminals, and it’s sparking debate before it even airs later this month (April 28 on Investigation Discovery, one of those many wonderfully nichey basic cable channels you didn’t know you had). Dallas DNA will follow Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins (pictured), whose work has helped free 10 men since he took office in 2007. And while Watkins says it’ll “make justice better by showing the good, the bad, and the ugly,” others worry it’ll exploit the suffering of victims — and the wrongly incarcerated — in the name of entertainment (and in the name of Watkins’ political career). I say that if done correctly — which is to say as journalistically and documentarily as possible — it’s a better use of “reality” TV than, say, another Rock of Love Bus. Your basic news coverage “exploits” this kind of thing all the time. And while the same topic made for an unsuccessful ABC drama a few years ago, it’s pretty much what basic cable was made for. These cases are always more interesting when you know they’re real — that’s why Law & Order can’t shut up about being ripped from the headlines.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you watch Dallas DNA? Is it an ethical minefield or just solid documentary series making?

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