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Richard Roxburgh is over Reality

The star of Rake reckons we are over Reality TV. Is he right?

Really having a hard time agreeing with Richard Roxburgh today, who says audiences are largely over Reality TV.

While his argument in a Herald Sun story may have been steered to give an interview on Rake a sexy print angle, nevertheless he is quoted.

“I think (Australian audiences) are crying out for drama at the moment,” he says.

“Reality TV came and largely went, and in its place there’s been an upsurge of interest in drama and story again – particularly smart story. There’s a really savvy audience there.”

MasterChef Australia producers may disagree. They have more than 3million Aussies to back them up. My Kitchen Rules Producers may join them. It was Seven’s most successful new show this year. Even The Block outrated Rake.

None of this is to detract from the fine contribution of Rake. It has set itself apart from an abundance of procedural dramas, to give us a character drama. And to do so with an anti-hero is a bold move. Even more so, it’s a series that revolves around one central character, belying the usual Aussie move for an ensemble.

But it doesn’t mean we’re over Reality. We’re just over bad Reality, just like we’re over bad Drama (COPS L.A.C. anyone?).

This notion that the Reality wave is over is nonsense and has been dragged out before. It’s been a genre in it’s own right ever since MTV perfected it with Road Rules. Sure there was a surge in the 1990s -just as Lifestyle surged in the 80s.

But Reality isn’t going away. It just needs to tell good stories, bring us interesting characters and peel back worlds in ways that other genres don’t.

It also doesn’t have to be everybody’s cup of tea in order to exist. Television has enough diversity for both Rake and Reality to co-exist side by side. Possibly even in the same timeslot.

11 Responses

  1. Excellent point, @George Glass. The fact that most “reality” programs are as scripted as produced dramas seems to go over a lot of people’s heads. That’s the problem! Thankfully most reality watchers are reasonably savvy, take what they’re seeing with a grain of salt and just go along for the ride. I think there’s a place for both quality drama and quality reality (no, that’s not an oxymoron) … just a matter of keeping reality as real as reality really is. Hmm, that’s starting to sound a bit too existential. Must be time for more brandy egg nog 🙂

  2. It’s all good for people to preference quality scripted drama over reality that’s their opinion, but to suggest viewing patterns and Australians in general are trending towards quality drama and away from reality it just incorrect. 7,9 and ten’s biggest new shows of the year were my kitchen rules, the block and junior masterchef respectively and beauty and the geek, australias got talent, masterchef, and farmer were all up year on year. You look at drama, apart from PTTR none could really be considered rating above par. I actually think drama is at all all time disinterest at the moment.

  3. So called reality shows are just constructed dramas any way. The producers have to weave hours and hours of footage into useable story lines that will engage an audience. They are constructed along traditional and conventional story telling lines. All these reality shows still have a beginning middle end – heroes, heroines, villains, mcguffins etc etc. If they are done well they will engage an audience. They are not really that all that different from scripted dramas. So i wish that people would get over criticizing them as somehow being inferior to scripted drama. I guess actors dont like reality tv cause it diverts capital/budgets from being spent on quality scripted drama. Has Australia yet produced anything akin to Mad Men, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dexter, Buffy, The Shield, Rescue Me, The Wire, Homicide Life on the Streets, Nip Tuck, L Word, Entourage etc etc etc. Theres the real problem. Australian networks wont take risks and are happy to keep turning out low risk low brow low intelligence pop corn dramas.

  4. I’m over shows based around cops, lawyers and doctors, so I haven’t given Rake a go and won’t. Give me a drama based around anything else and i’ll try it out. I understand it’s easier to produce story lines from these 3 catagories, but if i’m going to give my time to a show, I want something truly original and fresh in the drama space. While I wait, i’ll stick to reality TV and doco’s.

  5. I think there’s still plenty of life in both reality and good scripted drama and that the most important thing is that there’s a good amount of variety in the tv shows produced. Too much of any genre is bad imo.

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