Man is a social pleasure seeking animal, and irrational too, better exemplified in today’s reality television shows. Where every person, whether the judge or the audience go with their preconceived notions & expectations of the participants or a situation and come out with a unique experience when the plot goes on unexpected lines.
Reality-shows in my opinion are of 2 types, the adventure and non adventure. The former is usually associated with travel, trek or Sports while the latter is mostly talent hunting, singing dancing & like. And shows like 30 Seconds to fame gives me the impression that its not only cricket that gets T20’ed but reality shows too. A participant is supposed to rattle off his talent in the craziest possible time span & then go through the shredder of evaluation from the audience & judges. And if he makes it to the next round, the participant is supposed to piece himself back for the second tango. And the cycle repeats. Though blood & gut normally dosent spill out in these shows, unlike the old roman gladiator games , its more than made up with racial slurs, regional/nationalistic sycophantic appeals for votes not to mention the psychological abuse heaped in the form of objective performance assessment.
My two favorites shows have actually been variations of reality shows but real nonetheless. One is that of the late naturalist Steve (Steve Irwin, the star of the Crocodile Hunter nature television documentaries) who combined his love of animals with the excitement of reality show by performing his daredevil acts of deadly animal rendezvous in the most unplanned & unscripted ways. The other by magician David Blaine who created the unpredictable acts of appearance & disappearance of objects, levitation,death defying stunts etc out of ordinary daily events through cool magic skills on the streets of New York & elsewhere. Incidentally the dude made a cool $ 6 million from such televised street shows last year .
Whats amazing about this kind of reality show is that in a perfectly normal and mundane backdrop, the protagonist operates on a thin line between the real & surreal. And carries it off with aplomb. These guys defy logic, fear, and tread into the unpredictable where rules do not apply and the plot can sometime go horribly awry as in the case of Irwin. They welcome us to the world of free will and entirely implausible plots.
Coming back to human nature and its great quixoties, Dan Ariely captures various essence of Human psyche in his book Predictably irrational , a good read.