One reporter's ramblings: Make-up and making up drama

What a manly title for a column, huh?

I’ve never been one for reality TV, with a few very specific exceptions.

These include cooking shows, nature documentaries and River Monsters, which plays like a cold-case detective show and high-stakes fishing show rolled into one.

These programs are all missing one thing that is common in most other reality shows I’ve tried: melodrama.

Very few shows on Food Network have someone look at the camera and swear revenge on another person on the show. They just, you know, cook food.

That’s why I was initially hesitant to watch “Face Off,” a show about make-up effects artists competing for bragging rights, cash prizes and better careers.

I’m a few seasons into the long-running show and am enjoying it as much as my wife thought I would, but I’m glad the editors have left the drama behind. 

It was interesting to analyze how film crews try to make things more  exciting, though. Season one saw one contestant with a crush on an older guy in the competition. Another female contestant then spent much of the season complaining about the first woman contestant only to have them working on the same team in the end. There were absolutely no problems to be shown from them working together, so the animosity from earlier seemed a bit manufactured.

Season two presented one contestant as really sensitive. She was blamed by her partner for all the mistakes in one challenge, but both advanced. A later scene showed her confiding in the other contestant, so the “outrage” from earlier was hard to believe.

These types of inconsistencies are interesting because the viewer can see the narrative that directors and editors are trying to lay over the actual events. 

These narratives are mostly based off of first impressions, so when the gruff character who was mean in episode one provides a sympathetic ear later on, the editor has to begrudgingly include it if the shot is compelling enough. Most of the time, anyway.

One of the cooking shows we watch is “Master Chef,” which just lied to the audience before a commercial break in a recent episode. As they unveiled a dish, the camera cut to several disappointed reactions from the judges and contestants. When the program returned, they immediately showed approval for a job well done with no misdirection so the footage looked like it was pulled from somewhere else entirely. 

I say all of this not to condemn reality TV or those who enjoy it. It’s low-impact and can feel more candid than other shows. 

It shouldn’t be mistaken for reality, though. Pay attention to what you’re being shown and consider why it’s presented that way. It may help you recognize other information presented as fact but distorted by a layer of spin.

Paul Gaudette is a staff writer at the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and report@dublincitizen.com.

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