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In the Crossfire

'Reality' TV: The latest boob tube trend

(CNN) -- Are "reality" TV programs taking television down the tubes, or is the marketplace giving viewers exactly what they want to watch?

Such television fare has included contestants eating bugs for cash on "Fear Factor" and the exploits of former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith sharing nearly every aspect of her life with an audience.

Former child actor Danny Bonaduce, who went a few rounds in the ring for a celebrity boxing match, takes off the gloves again as he steps into the "Crossfire" with Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Family Values Coalition, and hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

BEGALA: Well, we're about a month away from the new fall TV shows on the network. But we've already gotten a taste of what's coming thanks to the big splash made by "The Osbournes" and the even bigger splash -- I mean, enormous splash -- made by Anna Nicole Smith. Well, you get the point. Reality shows are now the hottest thing in television, and that's what "Crossfire," of course, has been for years, hot and real. ...

CARLSON: Danny, thanks for joining us. Happy birthday, by the way.

BONADUCE: Oh, thank you very much. Me and Fidel Castro, interestingly enough.

CARLSON: Fantastic. ... I want to read you some of the reviews of "The Anna Nicole Show." See if you agree. One calls this show proof that Western civilization has finally thrown in the towel. Another describes it as like a trip to the vomitorium. Another describes her as bizarre, bewildered, self-centered and icky, very icky. And my favorite describes this show as a train wreck with breasts. Are those fair criticisms?

BONADUCE: Yes, they're fair. But you leave something out. We don't watch television as much as television watches us. These shows are on television because we deserve them and for no other reason.

I turned on the Anna Nicole Smith show, and I was horrified, and, therefore, I will never watch again. On the other hand, people keep telling me television is so bad that one day they will offer me live executions. Well, I say, when? I have my remote ready. And the only thing I want more than live executions is the live execution of Anna Nicole Smith.

BEGALA: Oh, my.

CARLSON: But I wonder, Danny, I mean, as a multimedia guy, I mean, you know how this stuff works. These are all knockoffs from "The Osbournes." And I'm wondering, I mean, it's clearly a trend. I'm wondering if it's going to wind up as game shows did a couple of years ago, reaching a quick apogee and then burning out. Can this go on?

BONADUCE: I believe that it will go on until people -- what is happening because when I watch Anna Nicole Smith, I don't believe her. I believe "The Osbournes." If I wanted to watch fat, drunk ladies on TV, Roseanne would still be popular. I don't think it's going to go -- and you can't make something popular. ...

BEGALA: Right. Andrea, go ahead.

LAFFERTY: And the truth is Hollywood is lazy. It's like college cafeteria food. They find one thing that kids like, and they feed it to you over and over and over. Hollywood has decided that some of these shows are popular, and they're giving it to us over and over. We don't necessarily -- I don't believe we deserve it. I wanted to watch something else last night on TV, and there was just this garbage. I'm waiting for "CSI" to come back.

BEGALA: Well, let me actually give you a dissenting view from the right. Not just like Danny and me who think this stuff is just great fun if people want to watch it. Dan Quayle, our former vice president of the United States, a great commentator on traditional values, had this to say about "The Osbournes." Now, this is the guy [Ozzy Osbourne] who bites the head off of live bats.

BONADUCE: Oh, once.

BEGALA: Just once, that's right. You know, you bite one bat's head off, and it just hounds you for years. Dan Quayle said: " 'The Osbournes' is a little bit different than our household. But underneath the craziness are some good messages."

LAFFERTY: I absolutely -- I agree. I agree with Dan Quayle ...

BEGALA: Really?

LAFFERTY: ... and the reason is because ...

BEGALA: So you like "The Osbournes"?

LAFFERTY: ... Ozzy Osbourne is the best poster child for why you shouldn't do drugs. The guy's brain -- his brain is fried. You can't understand a word he says. So, in reality, it is a good show. I can talk about ...

BEGALA: I can't understand a word Bush says, and he's our president. So we shouldn't be trashing Ozzy Osbourne.




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