Monday, July 11, 2011

An International Look at Reality TV Shows

The beauty of the Internet is that it can transport you to faraway places. And it is so much better than the garbage that is routinely broadcast on TV in the States. Despite the 200+ cable channels that I get, there is nothing good to watch, which is why I prefer the Universe of YouTube and foreign shows that I can access with a few clicks of the mouse.

Watching TV for the most part, is bad for you. When you are watching TV you are usually not exercising. It atrophies your brain, and if you snack in front of the tube (those fast food commercials with fried chicken and sizzling burgers accompanied by french fries are tempting, aren't they?) you can become a mindless piece of lard.

In general, the programs on American TV are not much better than the commercials, in my humble opinion, although I know some people who are like druggies without a fix when they miss their favorite TV shows.

The programs that the people I know get most excited about are Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, which originated in Great Britain, and now have clones all over the world.

I hear people discussing them at work and at social gatherings. Reality TV shows are extremely popular. I seldom see them, and when I do, it's usually because a member of my family is watching one on TV.

The bad performers are sometimes the best part of the shows. It's a form of schadenfreude I engage in. Here's an example of some really bad singing from American Idol.

This is a clip from the Bulgarian Music Idol, which is much more fun to watch. Isn't this guy aware that he's wearing a shirt that says that his mother's a prostitute? In Spanish?

There are some excellent performers from Music Idol. This young lady, who sings the well known Bulgarian folk song Izlel E Delyu Haidutin, accompanied by a bagpipe, is one of the best that I've seen on YouTube.

Many people are into Dancing With the Stars, a series in which celebrities compete as teams in ballroom dancing. I watched it a couple of times when I visited my mom, who is a big fan of the show. Although I was able to appreciate the ability and athleticism of the dancers, ballroom dancing just isn't my thing. Here's a clip from a recent episode.

Recently I've been captivated by a dance show from the Bulgarian National Television, Nadigrame, which has just concluded its eight week run.

You can find an explanation of the program here (in English)

From what I've read on the Bulgarian National Television website (since I'm Cyrillically challenged I cheat with Google Translate), Nadigrame, a show in which folk dance teams from rival cities compete, was extremely popular in Bulgaria. After I watched the first few episodes, I was hooked. It is something I can relate to, since it involves Bulgarian folk dancing, and the live music performed by the ensemble Diva Reka is top notch!

For the past eight weeks, teams from different folklore regions of Bulgaria have competed on the show. This video features an interview with the group from Plovdiv and contains a few short excerpts from Nadigrame.

If this has whetted your appetite for Bulgarian folk dancing, you can watch archived episodes of each show on the BNT's website (there are eight of them). This is the link to the finale, broadcast on the 10th of July, in which the seven semi-final teams, after a process of elimination in previous episodes, competed for the winning position. (Just to let you know, it's is almost two hours long, but well worth watching.) After the winning team was announced, the show finished with all teams performing the most popular dance in Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this you may also enjoy this post about the different "flavors" of Bulgarian horo.

Interested in a new fitness routine? Try some ethnic dance and exercise.

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  1. I got hooked on the English version "Strictly Come Dancing" for a few years. Jamiroquai (sp?)is great dance music!

  2. I had no idea that dancing with the stars and "American Idol" had branched out so far. What a wonderful new view you have given me with these shows! Thanks so much for broadening my experience!~

  3. Fiocle, I found Jarimoquai on YouTube, especially love their song "Dynamite." Great stuff! Although we get BBC America on cable, "Strictly Come Dancing" isn't broadcast in the States (although you can watch it on YouTube).

    Tracie, part of the reason I like foreign TV shows is that they're so different than those in North America, and give you an insight into a totally different mentality and culture. What is really interesting is how "Dancing With The Stars" and "American Idol" have been adapted for foreign tastes and given different names, but the idea is the basically the same. Glad you enjoyed!