Reality television fails to entertain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I saw the most grotesque, horribly unimaginable thing on TV recently.

It was the first episode of what, I’m sure, will become yet another popular reality show, The Swan.

The Swan – sounds great, doesn’t it? So peaceful and serene. The beautiful animal floating effortlessly through the still, clear blue water.

This is not representative of the TV show, however.

The premise of this television show is to take women they refer to as &uot;ugly ducklings&uot; and turn them into their version of beautiful so they can compete against one another in a beauty pageant at the end of the season.

This week’s preview (I didn’t see the actual show) featured a clip of a plastic surgeon who said, &uot;This is a scalpel – not a magic wand.&uot;

He was referring to the shape of some poor woman’s nose.

The first episode took two women and told them how terribly unattractive they were and then convinced them to turn themselves over – lock, stock and barrel – to a &uot;team of experts&uot; who would then decide how to make them beautiful and as the announcer says over and over, &uot;worthy of being called a Swan.&uot;

It’s terrible.

These women are liposucked, botoxed and enhanced in every possible place and in every possible way.

Big lips are made smaller; small lips are made larger. Big hips are made smaller; small bottoms are made rounder.

Breasts and cheekbones become larger. Abs, thighs and ankles shrink.

Teeth are straightened and whitened.

Curly hair is straightened. Straight hair is made curly. Blonde hair is browned; brown hair is blonded. Gray hair disappears altogether.

And during this three-month process, all mirrors are covered. The women are not allowed to see themselves.

Then, they gather the &uot;team of experts,&uot; put the woman in a slinky dress and pull back the curtain so she can see herself for the first time.

If she’s the prettiest one of the two at the end of the show, she gets to be (Oh my!) one of the (Oh, I can’t believe it!) contestants (Is that really me?) in the convoluted beauty pageant at the end of the season.

That’s the goal of the show, to get to the pageant. During that first episode, one of the &uot;experts&uot; kept telling a woman who was clearly in a great deal of pain after her entire body had been surgically altered that if she didn’t &uot;buck up,&uot; she’d never be the swan.

&uot;You’ll just return to the ugly duckling you were before,&uot; she said.

It was horrific; but I continued to watch. I couldn’t seem to turn away from it.

What in the world have we come to when this is our entertainment? We are sinking to new levels every single day.

The only redeeming thing I could find in the show was the fact that the &uot;team of experts&uot; included a therapist. After I watched, I certainly needed one.

Candace Parker is the news editor at the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at