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A Case For Keeping Drama Out Of The District

by Sarah Handel
Aug 9, 2010

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Sarah Handel

I read Mike Riggs' piece for the Washington Citypaper today running down D.C.'s sad history as backdrop for reality television. The D.C. Real World earned the worst ratings in the program's 23-year history for MTV. The D.C. season of Bravo's Top Chef has met with rotten reviews (Riggs quotes the Washington Post's Hank Steuver: "Top Chef D.C. feels a day late and a dollop short."). And The Real Housewives of D.C. dropped on Bravo last week with a thud and some awkward hugging.

Though I don't take kindly to outsiders who trash D.C. without cause, this article made me smile. Riggs doesn't seem to be saying that D.C. isn't interesting enough to support reality programming.  What I came away from my reading with is a simple fact: D.C. is the wrong town to host your frivolous franchise (not that I'm not watching). It's like when President Obama admitted he didn't know who Snooki is, after the Jersey Shore star Tweeted about the health care bill's tanning tax, drawing a response from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

I'm glad the sitting president doesn't know who an inconsequential, if oddly compelling cable channel reality star is. That's not the kind of trivia he needs to be occupied with. And while I'm not saying the business going on in Washington is more important than the business going on in other cities, if there's one place where it could truly benefit the country — and the world — to have its residents less focused on celebrity culture, it's D.C. So, though I initially rooted for these programs to show outsiders that we're not all a bunch of boring-suit-and-sensible-shoes-wearing-bureaucrats, I hope reality shows based in the District continue to flop.

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