One of the stranger things to come out reality television is the trend toward what is apparently some pacifying effect of watching the rich and utterly useless on display. Whether it’s the Real Housewives of wherever, or any other focus on the wealthy, and the fact that they seem to all be idiots, it looks as though there is no car wreck of stupid, rich people that can’t get the ratings needed to survive.
The newest installment comes to you by way of ABC Family, which makes me a little sad actually. I’m generally a fan of the network, which puts out a varied assortment of guilty pleasure television, most of which has a little more brain behind it than you might expect.
The spin here is that we’re focusing on the nannies of the rich and mildly famous, which is a double-edged sword of some sort. On the positive (using that idea very loosely) side, we have a theoretical “in” that serves as our entry into gold-plated vapidity, and one that we would think carries our own worldview along with it. In some cases this works out, and we get the perspective of the nannies as they WTF their way through their day along with us.
On the negative side, some of the nannies are only a lottery ticket away from joining the ranks themselves, and seem to have an internal dialog that is not quite so dismissive of the idiocy of those around them, but is instead knocking out ticks on the “when I’m on the other side” to-do list.
Predicting this kind of show is its own art form, and one that isn’t especially appealing. What’s troubling about the potential (supposing you were an analyst getting paid to tell ABC Family to go forward) is that there may not be enough focus on the stupid, useless people who are the gold these shows hope to mine. If you’re like me, you’ve got all you need to know just on the fact that they agreed to be on the show at all, but that doesn’t keep viewers tuning in. Whether it’s specifically focused on the rich, or a more general showcase of those too brain dead to be real (Dance Moms leaps to mind), the viewers want the interactions, and I’m not sure that being insane at the poor nannies quite fits the bill.
The game is obviously that audiences will connect to some degree with the nannies, and I suppose tune in for something like “rooting on” purposes, but through a couple of episodes, only one of them seems to deliver the sort of charisma you’d expect to be necessary for that angle to have much purchase.
I have to admit to a certain fascination with, and appreciation for, all of these shows, even if I don’t watch them. There’s just something magical to me about the fact that you can put together a show, tell people that the point of the show is quite obviously that we’re going to be calling you stupid, and showing everyone in the country how ridiculous you are as a human being, and still get them to show up. At some point, we have to question who exactly the show is calling stupid, and somewhere on the spectrum we get to that actually being those that will tune in to whatever version of inanity we’ll throw at them. Several shows are long past that point, and I think we may be there again.