Particle Physics and Reality TV

by Robin Reed

Physicists say that you can’t observe an atom or subatomic particle without changing it. I have begun to wonder, in the cable reality TV shows that I watch, how TV changes its subjects. Is a fur trapper in Alaska in danger when his plane won’t start? What if he has a TV crew with him? Surely they have their own plane and can give him a ride.

The Ghost Hunters were plumbers when the show started, but they haven’t mentioned that for a while. How much does the show pay? Do the American Pickers really need the small profits from each item or is the TV show paying more than their original business ever could?

These shows are low budget and probably start out paying little or nothing, but when one is a hit, they must start paying pretty well. The Cake Boss is building a factory and is going to sell cakes in grocery stores. Did he get the money for that from his show? Or was he able to get a loan because the show made his cakes famous? Either way his business was changed by TV.

I have thought of trying to buy storage units and selling what I find, but is that business really viable or does it just look good on TV?

I have a friend who recently visited the Pawn Stars shop. She said it’s smaller than it looks on TV, and the now-famous cast are only there when the show is being shot. Does the production company pick the customers for the show because they have the most interesting items or look interesting? Does it have to get signed releases from everyone in the store?

Are some of these reality stars now really actors, who pretend to be in their original business, then get in expensive cars and drive home to mansions? I can’t imagine that a reality show doesn’t pay at all, no one would put up with having the cameras there unless they expected to benefit. Sharon Osbourne pushed her way into celebritydom via the reality show about her family.

Do any of these people have agents? Managers? Do they refuse to do the next season unless they get more money? Does someone who wrestles snapping turtles and has several teeth missing have a contract that says he can’t get his teeth fixed while the show is running?

I do wonder about these things. But I keep watching the shows.