What does our collective obsession say about us as a society? And how do shows such as The Bachelor, Real Housewives and The Real World teach us about ourselves?
These are questions that host Mariah Smith is seeking to answer on Neon Hum Media’s new podcast, Spectacle. During the series’ first season, the TV writer and former columnist for The Cut does deep dives on a variety of impactful reality shows and connects them to broader social and political moments.
Mariah Smith shared her thoughts on all things reality TV in an interview for the latest episode of In The Know’s pop culture podcast, We Should Talk, during which she discussed the current reckoning happening around Bachelor Nation, what it means for the Kardashians to have KUWTK ending after 20 seasons and why the lack of a breakout star has hindered The Voice‘s impact.
“It shows that A. they don’t care, B. want this controversy, or C. are completely blind to the racial unrest that’s been happening on our country,” Smith posited about the controversy surrounding The Bachelor. “This will hopefully be the reckoning that the show needs to know that it’s not enough to have a Black lead on the show. You have to do the work behind the scenes, as well, to have your show rise to the 2021 occasion.”
Listen to In The Know’s full episode with Mariah Smith below, and keep scrolling for highlights from the interview:
Mariah Smith on the controversy surrounding The Bachelor right now: “With the current racial dynamics on The Bachelor and then the frontrunner being a racist, it shows that there are glaring gaps and/or purposeful additions to the cast of people who… they think they’re trying to do a The Real World-type thing, where they’d have a person from the deep South who had never met a Black person live with a Black person for the first time. [But,] they’re out of their depth, basically. If you’re doing the correct research to have someone on the show, and [the show has] struggled with having racists on the show with other Black leads, you’d think they’d do their due diligence a little bit better. It shows that A. they don’t care, B. want this controversy, or C. are completely blind to the racial unrest that’s been happening on our country. This will hopefully be the reckoning that the show needs to know that it’s not enough to have a Black lead on the show. You have to do the work behind the scenes, as well, to have your show rise to the 2021 occasion.”
Mariah Smith on her podcast, Spectacle: “We’re looking at it chronologically, in a way, of where we started and where we are, up to this very moment. In the final episode we do something really interesting that I don’t want to give away with one of the shows we cover and where reality TV is going. It really is a look at how did the show in episode one affect the show in episode two, how did the show in episode two affect the show in episode three and that’s how we build on each episode and each show.”
Mariah Smith on Keeping Up With the Kardashians coming to an end: “It puts a nice pretty bow on such a long legacy of reality TV history, ending on season 20. I really think that, with the Hulu deal coming out, this obviously isn’t the end of the Kardashians on our TV screens, but it’s time for this season of their lives on E!.”
Mariah Smith on pop culture’s increasing influence on society at large: “Because you have these cultural touchstones in pop culture and in reality TV, specifically, that really influences — we just have to look at who our former president was —what we are seeing on a grander scale in quote unquote hard news or politics. If you’re someone who studies higher brow things — or what you perceive to be higher brow things — and you’re not including pop culture or reality TV into your studies, you really have nothing to hang your hat on.”
Watch In The Know’s full interview with Mariah Smith below, and listen to her podcast, Spectacle, here:
If you enjoyed this interview, check out In The Know’s recent interview with former Bachelorette star Tayshia Adams here.
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