Over the years I’ve NOT been a big fan of reality television. I would go so far as to call myself a bit of a reality television snob at several points in my life. In my television watching world, I’ve always loved my scripted drama or documentaries in a major way and should that television be dripped in science fiction (or science fact), it’s usually all the better for me to consume.
That said, a funny thing happened to me at S.P.A.C.E. (the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) up in Columbus, OH back in 2008. You see, back then I spent a lot of my nights staying up late working on a website called ComicRelated.com, which I was still growing. There were some great small press parties back then (thank you Hamtramck Idea Men for all those great sketch jam memories) that I felt compelled to attend (oh, twist my arm). That said, I still wanted to get my con coverage out there for the site’s readers. Comic Related was a much smaller operation back then and I was pretty much a staff of one (as John Wilson and Brant Fowler would join me later that same year). This meant that convention coverage equaled late nights for me.
In Columbus, I would typically still be up at 11:30 PM or midnight posting yet another photo gallery or typing away describing what I’d seen that day. Yes, there I am alone in my hotel room late at night working on site updates. A pretty picture, huh? After a while, I took a break and flipped on the television. The Extended Stay America where I was housed happened to have Showtime and Showtime 2 (some of you already see where this is headed). That time of night there was NOTHING on television. Eventually, I stumbled across the end of some movie on Showtime and was posting pictures when it happened…
Big Brother 9 Cast from 2008
I failed to change the channel at the end of the movie. Big Brother After Dark came on Showtime. I was engrossed in my updates and didn’t change the channel which led me down a dark tunnel of reality television that has now continued for five years.
After about an hour, I found what felt like background noise was actually causing me to spend more time watching the show than updating CR. I had to turn off the television. The next night, as I finished coverage, I flipped on the television (it was about 12:15 AM) and there it was again. Next thing I knew it’s 3AM and I found myself wishing I had gotten more sleep.
So, next I came home, vowed to give up the show and set my Tivo to record some random Tuesday night show. This was back in the day when the DVR wasn’t a part of the cable converter box. In my case a small remote control sat on top of the box and hung over the front sending it signals telling it to change the channel. Due to an errant cat or my own bumping it, the Tivo somehow missed that channel change. The next day I sat down to watch my show and there’s Big Brother (the Tuesday night veto episode) in its place. I watched it and got up totally amused with myself and the way fate seemed to be making me watch this show. Life had it in for me and I had to admit this show was becoming an inadvertent guilty pleasure despite my attempts to give it a pass.
The next evening I’m taking a break and decided to see what the website for the show looked like. What do you know, there were all the previous episodes streamed in their entirety. In 2008 that wasn’t as common as it is today. Couple that discovery with a full 12 days off from the day job as I was teaching myself to podcast, staying up late and I quickly began visiting the nightly live show and, in the end, I was hooked.
There it is… I said it… I watch Big Brother.
I didn’t see that coming at all and since that time I’ve caught every season including the one that just concluded. Flash forward to earlier this week and you have Ginny asking me about all the recent controversy with the series and a conversation was hatched that started with the show, stops by the nature of marketing and making money on the internet and ends with a discussion of journalism and if it actually still exists today. That conversation is part of this week’s episode of the Charlie Tonic Hour. (#92)!