Since the pubescent age of 11, the one reality show that I watched religiously was “The Real World” on MTV. I remember getting in trouble in class because my friends and I were discussing how Ruthie from “Real World-New Orleans” had a twin.

It was so entertaining to watch the true story of six or seven strangers picked to live in one house/mansion. MTV did not disappoint in the early days of reality programming.

However, those times are now of the mourned past because of shows that have recently emerged.

Reality TV is becoming increasingly artificial, not just documenting the lives of people, but putting them into contrived and totally unrealistic situations. For example, consider the new programs about filthy, spoiled rich girls not knowing how to use a microwave or about plastic porn stars dating 50 obese or disturbed male contestants at once.

Older reality TV shows, such as “Road Rules” and “The Real World,” at least gave the viewer some insight into human character, which really couldn’t be shown in a sitcom or soap opera.

Many new ones, though, have little or no redeeming qualities. Some reality TV shows have become just a desperate attempt to get ratings, mixing together buzzwords such as “millionaire,” “ugly” and “marriage” to catch unsuspecting viewers. I’m really worried about those kids, like me, who started watching reality shows at an early age. I wonder how screwed up these kids will become.

Seriously, are these shows the best that producers can come up with? Gauging by the old days of reality TV, it isn’t. The truth is, more and more hatred develops in my heart every time I see their commercials. If I see another advertisement about porn stars on reality TV and their surgeon-given breasts, I am going to fly out to Los Angeles and make sure to pop each and every one of their balloons with my cross-stitch needle.

However, since I admit that I am a reality show junkie, I still have faith in the genre. For instance, I still respect MTV for airing “Run’s House.”

The show is based on a rapper turned minister and how he raises his kids. This plotline seems surprisingly normal and admirable when compared to “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire.”

Run genuinely loves his wife and kids and tries to bring out the good in everyone. He displays emotion that can not be replicated in the fake, counterfeit reality programs currently on many networks.

I find the last part of each episode the most inspiring. He is seen soaking in his bubble bath sending encouraging text messages to those who need them.

“Run’s House” proves to TV producers that you don’t need trashy plotlines to have a good show – genuine reality always prevails.

Shieh can be reached at

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