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Yes, Virginia

Virginia Heffernan, The Only TV Critic That Matters, looks at two new reality shows in her NYT column. What makes Heffernan’s reality tv criticism so much better than anyone else’s is that she recognizes the genre for what it is: an indigenous Southern California form of folk art which happens to be broadcast all over the world. As such, she plays close attention to the nuances of the between-participant chatter, always the most interesting part of any reality show. For instance:

At one point on “Strip Search,” a contestant seemed stunned to find himself on the show. “Dude,” he said, addressing another contestant. “I am a refrigeration and air-conditioning man. What did you do?”

“Bartend,” the other man said.

“Bartend!” said the first man, shaking his head. He surveyed the scene in wonderment, and delivered a verdict: We are normal dudes!

It sounded like the start of a revolution.

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