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Can't we all just get along?
penrose orange
Yesterday evening, I watched the first episode of a new TV series, The Search. It's a globetrotting treasure hunt in which a bunch of contestants solve puzzles in order to try to locate buried treasure. It looked like it was going to be an interesting, enjoyable series. However:
  • the contestants were divided into two competing teams;
  • there was lots of footage of the members of each team arguing among themselves;
  • there were Big Brother-esque "talk to the camera" bits, where the contestants complained about their team-mates;
  • at the end of the episode, the losing team had to eliminate one of their number.

What could have been a superb programme about history and puzzle-solving turned out to be yet another conflict-driven, semi-"reality" show. TV scheduling is full of this kind of rubbish, and has been for years.

As a teenager, one of my favourite shows was The Crystal Maze, an enjoyable, friendly game show in which the players competed against the clock and the tricky puzzles rather than against each other. Contestants who were eliminated by messing up their puzzles could be — and frequently were — reinstated by the other contestants, at the cost of having less time to complete the final challenge. A programme like that would never be made nowadays. Today's TV shows require selfishness and backstabbing, not cooperation. A modern Crystal Maze would require the elimination of one team member after each commercial break.

It's a reflection of human nature, of course. Humans are intrinsically selfish, violent creatures. It is a shame that we choose to entertain ourselves with TV programmes which celebrate these traits rather than striving for something better.

Conflict is the basis of all drama, of course. But not everything on television has to be drama.