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Like it or not, reality TV is here to stay. That much became clear when television studios weathered the recent strike by Hollywood writers. Reality TV is cheap, and the ratings are strong. This bottom line ensures a long run, no matter what the critics write.

Two of the more successful reality shows have flickered the television in my home. When I'm not controlling the remote, my family's television lands on TLC's "What Not to Wear." Hosts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London alternately challenge and chastise women regarding their fashion faux pas. By the end of the hour, the project/woman invariably follows their fashion tips and reveals her new, more confident self amid cheering family and friends. The other popular show in my home is "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It's a little too cheesy for my tastes, but then again, I'm not the target audience. And what a big audience it attracts — "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is a top-ten ratings fixture. The combination of do-it-yourself audacity and pick-me-up stories can't miss.

As I talk with friends and family, I've learned that many other Christians watch these shows. I've seen no fewer than 20 churches advertise a sermon-series spin on the "Extreme Makoever" concept. Considering other reality TV alternatives, I can see why Christians prefer these shows. Listening to them, we hear faint echoes of the gospel.

Take "What Not to Wear" for example. The success of this show has little to do with fashion tips. Most viewers can't even afford the clothes they see on the show. So what's the point? Even as the hosts berate poor women for their questionable wardrobes, Clinton and Stacy recognize that outward appearances often reflect inward realities. By the middle of the show, the ...

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April 2008

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