A whole new television world of crap has opened up for me since the digital switchover, which brought the magic of Direct TV into our home.
I was excited when we first got it because I wanted to see all the shows that my students talk about. Plus, we had gone without ever watching The Simpsons.
What I found, of course, is that much of the programming is spirit-killing garbage being pumped out in the form of reality television. Heinous people doing heinous things. Families-full of vulgar young women conspicuously consuming, just a click away from sad people living in houses full of empty pizza boxes and dead cats. Reality? One would hope not.
Still, I watch. I lament. Then I say: what a brilliant business model. They pay no writers to actually produce any kind of story arc or programming. And I'm actually paying them $50 a month to have this stuff piped into my living room.
One of the first shows I watched was the sitcom-esque Flipping Out, whose central character is a jerk who buys and renovates houses in LA, and who manages his business with the help of a brassy assistant and a long-suffering Latina maid. What interested me was the interactivity of the show--that viewers could log online and comment on this guy's rotten behavior while the show was airing.
It turns out that Bravo (the network that produces all this crap), uses social media and all kinds of mobile tools to build its audience. Here's an interview with Aimee Viles, the woman who directs these efforts.