Reality TV? I Don't Think So

Viewers of the hit show Desperate Housewives who live in areas prone to tornadoes have been critical of Sunday's episode that featured a tornado hitting Wisteria Lane. They said that the behavior depicted on the show was more in line with an expected hurricane (for which residents generally have lots of notice) than a tornado (which usually strike with just moments' notice, and no one knows in advance where they will hit until that funnel cloud forms).

I think they're right. I didn't grow up in Tornado Alley, but in the concrete jungle of New York. Still, I thought it amusing that characters were making all these preparations, planning to "wait out the storm" in their cellars, were stockpiling water, and - I must have missed this, but several people said they saw it - putting masking tape on their windows. I also thought it odd that objects as heavy as cars were lifted and slammed down on the ground while people standing nearby weren't as much as knocked down.

Defenders of the show say, "It's just TV." Well, people get a lot of their ideas and beliefs from what they see on television. A tornado is a very serious situation, capable of bringing death and destruction to anyone or anything in its path. I do believe that TV shows have a responsibility to try to paint a realistic picture of life-and-death situations. People get blown away or hit by heavy falling objects in tornadoes. While heavy rain from hurricanes can last for days, tornadoes are over in minutes, and taping windows is pointless against this kind of wind.

I've seen plenty of misrepresented situations on TV. An episode of the excellent and now defunct Lifetime series Any Day Now had a would-be author learn at the last minute that she'd signed with a vanity press . . . and she had an attorney representing her interests. Completely off the wall (unless the attorney was a complete charlatan who didn't even attend law school), but not particularly upsetting. No one's life depended on it. But God forbid some fool learns a funnel cloud is headed their way and thinks they have time to run to the store and get a supply of water or to go outside and tape their windows because of what they saw on TV.


Chelle Sandell said...

I like the new look! I guess I've been slacking on my blog visits! But I grew up in 'Tornado Alley' here in windy Oklahoma. One of the things we got a good laugh from is the length of the storm. One of the things about a tornado is how quick it happens. We do have advance warning because of todays technology...but tape on the windows? Never heard of it as local prep. We do stock up on bottled water, canned goods and batteries...during storm season.

Shelia said...

I watched the episode and some of the things weren't realistic...maybe they were rushing because of the strike :)

Tornados are deadly and I see they killed off Gabriel's husband because the wood from the white picket fence blew straight through him...what I found crazy those were the folks running around in "tornado" weather.

DonnaD said...

I think they chose a tornado because it was the only natural "disaster" that would realistically work in the fictional world where Wisteria Lane resides. Hurricanes would indicate they are in the south or east, earthquakes presumptively on the west coast. They're not near enough to a body of water for a tsunami.

Yes, I think the whole ep was unrealistic in a lot ways. Why would Mrs. McCluskey have a basement and not Lynette? How would 4 people be able to sit in a closet the size of a living room with the lights still on? Where were the sirens? How come the hospital where Susan and Mike were was not affected in the least?

I truly watch "DH" for the funny dialogue and the acting. I'll save reality for the news. Granted, I learned how to say subdural hematoma because of "Emergency" but I also know that TV dramas take license with the truth all the time. If doctors behaved like the ones on "ER" or "Grey's Anatomy", our medical profession would be in serious trouble.

I once took exception to a downright ridiculous plot on a soap; even for a soap it was extreme. A character told her grown daughter that she had embryos created with her now-dead husband but she couldn't get them implanted, so the daughter volunteered - that night! - to go have them implanted. Having gone through infertility treatments, I was outraged and stopped watching for a while. But then I realized it was a plot contrivance for another stupid storyline.

Heaven help those who mistake television for reality.

bettye griffin said...

Chelle - By all means, do stop by more often! Thanks for providing info as someone who knows Tornado Alley.

Shelia - Nice photo! I like your subliminal imaging and plan to do it myself . . . just gotta get the hubby to snap the picture. Yeah, I said "Ouch" when I saw that picket fence.

Donna - You're absolutely right - people shouldn't give much credence to what they see on TV, but unfortunately they do.