Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sur-reality Show

So I recently found out that I live near a reality show. For real. Now, I live in a town of roughly 5,000 people. What are the chances that one family's worth of those residents would appear on the Discovery Channel on Sunday nights?

Alaska: The Last Frontier follows the Kilcher clan, longtime homesteaders here in Homer, as they hunt, fish, skin rabbits, run their farm, deal with the extreme conditions, raise children, and do other typical Alaska-type things.

It's not an uncommon lifestyle here in Alaska, in fact, many people, including us, do many of those things. It honestly never occurred to me that it would make good reality-show material. But come to find out, people love watching the Kilchers. The show is now in its 4th season. Over 134,000 people follow their Facebook page, for goodness' sake.

I have to admit I haven't watched it, but plenty of people in town do. The buzz is that some things are exaggerated or staged, but the gist of the show is real. I finally decided I should check it out online. I can't tell you how surreal it is to go on the Discovery website and see someone I've chatted with in the grocery store on "live cam", trudging out to the woodshed. Is that really something people want to see? Apparently so! There were over a hundred people logged into the chat window, talking about Charlotte going to the woodshed.


I'm really not sure I want to watch the show; it would feel like spying on my neighbors. The Kilchers live maybe fifteen miles away as the crow flies, and I often visit a family who lives just down the road from them. Although I don't know all the Kilchers, I've been to parties with some of them. I've even been to Otto's house. Little did I know that before long, they'd be kinda-sorta-famous, in that reality/celebrity limbo kind of way.

Honestly, it's a little bit demoralizing for a writer. Here I sit in my little cabin, brainstorming ideas until the blood seeps from my ears, when maybe I should just be putting up a live camera.  I find my daily life pretty ordinary, and it certainly never occurred to me that it might be worth televising. "There goes Juniper, trudging to the kitchen to make more tea. There she goes to the outhouse." Ooh, yes, outhouse-cam, now you're talking!

But then another strange thing happened. A few author friends of mine began receiving calls from a producer in LA. Apparently he's interested in shooting a pilot for a reality show about ... you guessed it, Alaskan romance authors. Something about steaming up the long winter nights. So there you go. Take it from me, if they can make a reality show about writers sitting at their computers -- even in Alaska -- they can make a reality show about anything.

So can you imagine a reality show in your town/neighborhood/house? Would you want to star in one?

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