Guy W. Farmer: Reality TV serves up steady diet of dysfunction |

Guy W. Farmer: Reality TV serves up steady diet of dysfunction

Guy W. Farmer
For the Nevada Appeal

As part of my love/hate relationship with reality television, I watch “Survivor” on a regular basis and also like the courtroom and cop shows on TruTV. But many of the reality shows are simply crazy, silly and/or embarrassing.

The worst part of the reality TV craze is that it has spawned a nutty – even dangerous – cast of characters, ranging from “Octo-mom” Nadya Suleman to the freak show parents of the so-called “Balloon Boy” to the weird White House gate-crashers. I think most of these folks should be institutionalized for their own protection, and ours.

Let’s start with Ms. Suleman, the single mom who gave birth to octuplets after she already had six young children to take care of. This Angelina Jolie wannabe with plumped-up lips basked in the attention she received on TV until viewers tired of her antics and worried about how she was going to care for 14 children.

When last heard from, the Octomom was defending the doctor who performed multiple in-vitro fertilization procedures on her, sort of like buying a case of of ketchup at Costco even though your cupboard is already overflowing with ketchup, as one L.A. Times columnist described it. Sick!

And then there are Richard and Mayumi Heene, the publicity-hungry parents of the 6-year-old Balloon Boy who exploited their own children in order to have their own reality show. Colorado courts sent them a strong message, however, by sentencing them to jail, 90 days for Richard, who began serving his sentence last Monday, and 20 days for Mayumi.

“We searched the house, high and low,” Heene told Larry King before his hoax was exposed. “I knew he was in the craft (balloon) … In my mind there was no other place,” he lied.

And finally we have Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the terminally self-centered D.C. socialites who crashed a White House state dinner in honor of the prime minister of India. They, too, were hoping for a reality show.

These incidents, and others, have caused TV network executives to question whether reality show producers bear any responsibility for permitting such volatile – and potentially dangerous – people to act out their personality disorders on national TV.

“We’ve never had this proliferation of train-wreck celebrities,” said a successful New York publicist, and we haven’t even mentioned the Kardashians or Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight exploited children.

All of these dysfunctional but “famous” people feed our insatiable appetite for celebrity and celebrities. But what does that say about us? Don’t ask.

• Guy W. Farmer watches reality TV in Carson City.