Response paper: the wire and flavor of love

RESPONSE PAPER: The Wire and Flavor of Love When one switches on a television set in this day and age, they will meet a concoction of programmes that are designed or tailored for a particular audience. These programmes are made with predetermined notions of what they are to represent. Every single programme on television usually has a target audience that they are trying to reach and the purpose which they are trying to fulfil. This then leads to the distinction that exists between quality television and reality television.
Quality television is described as such by scholars and critics due to its perceived higher quality due to its subject matter, style or content. They term it as such because the television programmes seem to have a deeper purpose within themselves, like a theme or agenda that they are trying to portray. This distinction as quality television also relates to the pedigree of actors included in the programme who all act towards provoking the viewer’s thoughts and ideas all aimed at raising self awareness. This genre of programming does not always focus on achieving rating through pulling ambidextrous stunts, but relies on its ability to provide thought provoking content as a rating gainer. One such example of a quality television programme is The Wire. (Taylor)
The Wire from its inception was seen as a quality television programme as it sought to explore different themes within itself, some of which included the level of government bureaucracy, drug trade and the school system. Throughout its five seasons and sixty shows, it sought to critically analyse and provoke the thought process of its viewers through its deep analytical outlook of issues that was always brought to the fore via its stellar cast that included Dominic West and Idris Elba. The whole cast of the programme strived to bring to their viewers a show that has been described by many critics as the greatest TV drama of all time. (IMDb, The Wire)
On the other hand, reality television is described by scholars to be a genre that focuses on actual events while maintaining its humour. Reality shows are usually unscripted and this is what sets them apart from quality television. Reality television usually in most cases also puts forward unknown actors as their stars as opposed to quality television that focuses on trained actors who represent a pedigree. These types of shows focus greatly on the ratings they attract because they thrive on the ability to maintain the audience’s attention and not the ability to provide thought provoking content. (Authority)
One such example of a reality television show is Flavour of Love. This programme was built around a dating game, where the star, Flavour Flav, would get to choose from a group of girls one girl whom he had fallen in love with. The group in its first season had 3. 3 million viewers, but with its rise in popularity, its second season debuted with 7. 5 million viewers. That record breaking number is the highest in VH1 history. The show lacks depth as is evident from its shallow dating game theme and its less than par cast who seem to add nothing to the acting fraternity. (IMDb, Flavour of Love)
Looking at both shows and the genres they represent, it can be said that they both create a conflict and solve it as they progress that they want the viewer to connect with; Flavour of Love has contestants battling out for Flav’s affection and The Wire has socio-political issues that it seeks to address. The difference in the solving of the conflicts is what creates the difference between quality and reality television.
These two shows are perfect examples of either genre because they exemplify what each genre stands for. Quality television through the lens of The Wire is seen to be informative and thought provoking while reality television through the lens of Flavour of Love is seen to lack depth and does not invoke any sort of constructive thinking. It is sad to see that the media is leaning these days more towards reality television because they are all battling to have the highest viewership. In an industry driven by competition and viewership, quality television is losing out as it seems that no one is interested in viewing programmes that fall under the genre of quality television.
Authority, Australian Communications and Media. Reality Television Review. Melbourne: Australian Communications and Media Authority, 2007.
IMDb. Flavour of Love. 2006-. 15 March 2013 .
—. The Wire. 2002-2008. 15 March 2013 .
Taylor, Russ. ” Measuring Quality Television.” FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS LAW JOURNAL (2003): 593-600.