Recently, all the different television channels announced the shows they were renewing and the ones they were canceling. The majority of shows renewed were reality based while many fine scripted dramas and comedies went by the wayside. From an economic perspective, this wasn’t a surprise. It is far cheaper to film a reality show and, if viewers become attached to the cast/scenery, easier to make money off of product placement and repetitive showings.
Although I personally have little interest in most reality TV shows, I’m addicted to the ones that incorporate a competition. Because I’ll watch and even rewatch gameshows like Jeopardy, cooking competitions including Top Chef and Chopped, or shows that offer big prizes, I couldn’t resist incorporating this world into the fifth Sarah Blair mystery, Five Belles Too Many, which releases on June 28 (available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your favorite indie, or by calling your library and asking them to obtain it).
In Five Belles Too Many, Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, and Maybelle’s friend, George, are one of five finalist couples hoping to win a perfect Southern wedding being given away by a New York television show which is taping its competitive segments in Wheaton, Alabama. The five belles vying for the prize include four twenty-something-year-olds who love Day of the Dead, Auburn and Alabama football, and the southern world inhabited by the Beverly Hills Clampetts, as well as sixty-plus Maybelle and George. Each belle is required by the show’s rules to have a chaperone. Because Mother Maybelle doesn’t want to impose on her friends and Chef Emily works at night, the assignment falls to Sarah despite the belles and chaperones having to stay at Sarah’s greatest nemesis’ bed and breakfast. Sarah’s hope for the week to go by quickly is complicated by murder. (For more details, catch Elaine Douts’ WWK review and interview on June 22, 2022).
The fun in writing Five Belles Too Many was incorporating what goes on behind the scenes in reality shows. Much of what we, the audience sees, is somewhat scripted and definitely edited to play on our emotions. My job was to bring these fake moments to life for the reader, while establishing a whodunit that was fun.
I find reality TV doesn’t take much concentration to enjoy and each show provides a relief from the true reality of whatever is happening in my life. Tell me, does reality TV hold a secret pleasure for you? If so, which shows do you like?