Melissa Jo Peltier

Author of fiction and nonfiction; film and television producer/writer/director

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A Teen's Viewpoint: REALITY BOULEVARD by Lauren Marie Galley (18)

April 9, 2013

Tags: teens, reality tv, media, media pressures, girls, self-image, Girls Above Society

My organization “Girls Above Society”, helps teen girls face the tough pressures of today’s media-driven society. I immediately bought REALITY BOULEVARD and knew this was a must read. I really wanted to hear more about the inside workings of our crazy media driven society. As an actress and model, I’ve been on many film sets, but I’ve never experienced the reality TV world.

Getting comfy in my bed, I opened my kindle and began reading what was an incredible story about the real world behind the scenes of reality TV.

The book made me think about my acting mentor James Drury (84). He warned me to NEVER do reality TV. He said “It greatly saddens me that there are no longer real acting roles on TV. Reality TV has taken over and I never want to see you on reality TV.” I really didn’t think too much of his words of wisdom at the time but I could truly see this sadness in his eyes. I knew I would never accept a role on reality TV so no worries, right?

At the time, I wasn’t thinking about what a huge influence reality TV has had on its viewers, especially members of my generation. Check out these shocking statistics:

• According to Medical Procedure News, reality television is attributing to cosmetic surgery procedures with more than 9.2 million procedures performed as result of people watching these shows.
• According to WebMD Medical News, reality television is contributing to eating disorders in teen girls. With shows like Are You Hot? The Search for America’s Sexiest People and Extreme Make Over, young women believe that to be excepted you have to be “hot” or a “bombshell.” (Kirchheimer) Since the boom of reality television in 2000, eating disorders in teenage girls (ages 13-19) have nearly tripled.
• Americans spend 1/3 of their free time watching television and of that 67% are reality shows.
• The number of shooting days for reality TV in Los Angeles rose 53% last year, making up about 40% of all on-location production.
• Of the 240,000 entertainment jobs in Los Angeles, 30,000 are tied to reality television.
• Reality TV episodes have increased to 57% of all television shows that can be found on your screens.
• There are more than five violent scenes in an hour of prime time, and five murders a night.

After reading REALITY BOULEVARD, I have come to realize how mechanical reality TV really is. I find it interesting they call it reality TV when it’s not reality or real at all. A large percentage of my friends don’t realize most reality TV is scripted. Glitzy marketing and juicy trailers give the appearance of real people doing crazy things. The real reality is an editor who can take footage of you and totally change who you are, your values, and your words with the push of a few buttons. The marketing is obviously geared toward the Millennial generation, a generation that never experienced great dramatic television, acting at its best, so they're easier to hook. Our generation loves drama, especially as it appears to unfold right before our eyes. Real people - or should I say non actors without any credits behind them - crazy situations, drama and lots of it equals mindless entertainment I can watch while studying for my exams. It gives me something to talk about at lunch the next day as every tabloid I read continues to spew it in my face!

Melissa gives us a true “reality check”. Sure, I watch some reality TV. I understand what it is, how it works, and I’m not swayed by it to become a famous reality TV star, quit school, or behave like any of the “stars” portray themselves. BUT...... this is where it gets tricky! Many my age see reality TV as a way to get rich and famous. They make it look so easy. Why not? And even if they never have the opportunity to get close to a TV film set, reality TV still alters their ideas of drive, determination, and hard work. I see so many of my generation just want the easy way out. “Let’s do the bare minimum to get by.” Past generations such as my dad’s have given me the opportunity to learn drive, determination, morals and values. I’m worried about my generation and what we will have to offer to those who follow us.

My Dad’s viewpoint on REALITY BOULEVARD: “Very well written, smartly designed and conveys a real message.” He adds, “I never watch reality TV, I hate it! If you ever do reality TV I’ll disown you”. Yep! That’s my Dad. He’s an incredibly smart, driven, and motivated man.

I never thought of reality TV as a fire that is spreading out of control throughout my generation. I’m only one person, but I’m headed for the water to put it out, giving those that follow me a smoke free path to be a smart, leader-driven society. 22% of American’s free time is devoted to reality TV. I challenge my generation to get up, make a difference, and bring true value to their lives. Our future depends on it.

Thank you Melissa for being the amazing woman and role model you are and for putting a synopsis of my generation on paper. Here’s to putting that fire out together!!

Reprinted with Permission From her Blog



  1. April 11, 2013 7:03 PM EDT
    I think your mentor gave you great advice! In addition to the points you make about the low quality of reality TV, I would think that for an actor, it would be hard to break into any other acting work after appearing on reality TV. What fascinates me is that a channel called "The Learning Channel" devotes so much time to this genre of TV; I'm not sure what people learn, other than, "I'd better not do what this person on TV just did." I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this post.
    - Sam

Published Works

Reality Boulevard
"...a book in the tradition of great Hollywood novels, from Carroll and Garrett Graham’s Queer People (1930) to Michael Tolkin’s The Player (1988), and reads like Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 Network screenplay retooled for the 21st century" - Ken Salikoff, Kirkus Indie Magazine
"In this smart, funny, insightful novel, reality TV becomes all too real...Peltier examines the Hollywood world of writers, producers, rich kids, actors, wannabes and con men with a keen and often compassionate eye. " - Kirkus Reviews
"Once I started reading "Reality Boulevard," I could not stop...this is the best satirical look behind-the-scenes of "reality television" ever written." - Arnold Shapiro, Oscar & Emmy-winning Producer of Scared Straight; Rescue 911; Big Brother
“[Millan] arrives amid canine chaos and leaves behind peace.” —Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
Non-Fiction (Co-Author)
“As complete a tome on the subject as one could want…If the answer you’re looking for in this guide cannot be found, the question is not worth asking...this is an impressive piece of work.” - Bookviews, June 2011