Conflict. It is the heart and soul of reality television — of all television, really. Without conflict there is no story, no ratings, and no show. Take Survivor (please?). In real life, if 12 random strangers were stranded on a deserted island, would they plot against each other? I doubt it. They would need to learn to get along, to work together, or else they would die.
To make a television show, you would need to find personalities that thrive on conflict, have extremely differing opinions, and then create an artificial situation where backstabbing is required to win. Now you have a prime-time show. That’s what counts as good television in the 21st century.
Ironically, when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition first started, it was pitched as a conflict show on whether six designers could get work together to remodel a house in seven days. That was the pitch. The first show or two were entirely about their conflicts. Would they be able to resolve their differences or would the project blow up?
You know the old joke, “I went to a fight and a hockey match broke out.” Well, instead of six designers at each others throats, a good-will project broke out instead. It was the fact they were building for someone in need that caused them to set aside their differences and to become a team.
It was an accident. The studio never expected it to happen.
But for every Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, there are dozens of Survivors.
A television company wants to do a 13-episode program about a family business “struggling” to transfer ownership from a “patriarch” down to the children. This TV company is responsible for several high-profile shows already broadcast on one of the big three networks. It is not a light-weight, only for cable show they are creating.
They researched the Internet and found Monolithic, my family’s business. Dad started it in 1975 when he built the first Monolithic Dome with his brothers. I was only 8-years-old.
The TV company’s representative called and said they were interested in making our family the center of the new series. On the surface it sounded like the opportunity of a lifetime. A 13-part show about our family’s business.
But that’s the problem. It isn’t going to be about the business or it’s employees. It won’t to be about the Monolithic Dome, the good things being done in Indonesia, the benefits of living in a dome, watching the family work on a project, or even about how domes are built.
It’s about conflict.
Monolithic is unique. We have very little politics. Don’t get me wrong, we have pressures and disagreements — like any organization. But we also have a strong sense of family, far beyond just those directly related to David Sr. So many individuals have contributed to Monolithic that to separate their work from the “family” is to nullify 32 years of business.
But “good” television is about conflict. If they can’t get it naturally, they will try to manufacture it.
If we were to do this television show, they will do everything they can to play up even the smallest problem. A slight infraction will be the focus of an entire episode. What we do, what we want to accomplish is secondary in the name of entertainment.
I am not imagining this. Their representative said that they are LOOKING for dirty laundry to show.
Contention destroys homes and lives. It prevents honest communication. More importantly, it makes forgiveness impossible. Every family has cuts and bruises — even severe trauma. No one is immune.
Then why would anyone want a television crew to come in, reopen the wounds (or make new ones) and film it?
I can’t think of a reason either. We called the TV company and told them we were not interested.