The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan has a blog post decrying the state of reality television, bringing up a list of reality show stars who feel like their lives have been ruined by appearing on various programs for our amusement. While I guess it probably really does suck to be on one of the Real Housewives shows, the premise seems to ignore the fact that no one is making you be on these programs. I doubt they would exist if there wasn't a constant stream of insecure fame-whores looking to get on TV and make a buck, so I don't know if you can blame reality TV for just bringing to light problems people had anyway:
But, like game-show contestants, most reality participants lose. And on reality shows, they lose what they came in with — their marriages, their families, their cultural capital, their professional reputations, their actual money and in some cases their freedom. (More than one “Real Housewives” husband has landed in jail.)
One year ago, Charles Ommanney, an award-winning Newsweek photographer who appeared on “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” told The Times, “I was naïve and foolish to sign off on doing this,” he said. His career had suffered, he explained; his marriage collapsed. “I regretted it. I lost touch with everyone, and mix that with my marriage falling apart and the show taking over, it was very sad.”
Just after Mr. Armstrong’s death, Danielle Staub, another real person who collaborated in a portrayal of herself as demonic (on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”), gave a TV interview in which she said that she knew just how Mr. Armstrong felt. She too had felt suicidal, and moreover she considered emotional problems an occupational hazard. “So many families — not just the Armstrongs — have fallen apart as a result of these shows,” Ms. Staub said.