I noticed this weekend that the chief of the Discovery Channel came out and said they were going to stop making fake-but-entertaining documentaries. He kinda admits.....they were successful....but they've run their course and probably aren't of the value they were a couple of years ago.
I hadn't been much of a Discovery Channel viewer....until I got to DC in 2010 and got my cable package.
Between the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, Arts & Entertainment, the Crime and Investigation network, and The Learning Channel (TLC).....I got used to fake programming. I could go home and watch two to three hours of fake TV entertainment.....knowing it was all fake....and be fairly satisfied.
I imagine if you went and question the six million residents of Alabama today....of which half have access to the same cable or satellite package....at least ten percent will admit they watch the fake documentary programming on a regular basis. If asked if they know it's fake.....most will grin and say it's kinda like wrestling but more evolved and characters that you feel charmed by their nature or fake behavior.
I look at this announcement by the boss of Discovery and wonder what exactly will replace the fake documentary programming? Medical emergency room documentaries.....where you cart some guy into the backdoor and he fell into a pit of alligators? Maybe some trucking documentaries where you interview twelve truckers as they cross America and get their opinion on flashlights, beer, and winter tires? Perhaps some farming stories where one guy went to rehab because he was drinking all day while farming?
I'm of the mind that this brief period of non-fake documentaries will run through a phase where people admit there's nothing much entertaining about the truthful escapades of various folks. So, after a year or two....a few fake pieces will run through the system, and we will be back to the norm within four years.
My suggestions for fake documentary material?
1. It might be interesting to have some bonehead city-guy gave up the lifestyle....put on jeans....and pretend to be a farmer for while.
2. It might be entertaining to put some castaway guy on some island with two or three buddies, some cannibals, and Amazon gals.
3. It could be enchanting to put a couple of US Senators onto a lie-detector and let the public ask ten simple questions to each....seeing if they could be truthful in their comments or answers.
4. It might be fascinating to put an entire city council onto marijuana for a year and see if they act different.
5. It might be compelling to interview forty high-school kids, and year by year....tell their continued story and how they succeed or fail in life.
6. It might be enjoying to put a couple of hidden cameras into a barber shop and let the barbers engage customers on aliens, UFOs, or ex-wives.
The sad truth here? We actually want fake-but-realistic documentaries. And we know it's all fake.