Mormons and Reality Shows

May 6, 2008 | 24 comments
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24 Responses to Mormons and Reality Shows

  1. Dave on May 6, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Maybe Mormons are just good at … reality?

  2. E on May 7, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Weird that the writer would attribute the appearance of Mormons on these shows to trying to prove we’re normal. Brothers and Sisters, do you keep “must prove Mormons are not freaks” at the top of your mind when making decisions in your life?

  3. Trish on May 7, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Oh, I long for the days of the “Donny and Marie Show.” Marie was portrayed so perky and popular back then.

    I think people are curious (non LDS) about Mormon life as they hear so much garbage in the news. The reality shows always label people “Newly Dating,” “Dating Models,” — better than “Neurotic Housewife from Bountiful, Mother of Six, Three months off Prozac..”

    Why self-identify as LDS on a reality show? Why go on a reality show? I can watch the drama in my own neighborhood — who needs TV?

  4. Geoff J on May 7, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Mormons do a lot of singing and dancing. Is it any wonder some of us do well in singing and dancing competitions? (see “So You Think You Can Dance” — Mormons have been all over that show).

    Of course that doesn’t really explain the “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” appearances…

  5. jeans on May 7, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Nice work by Sally Atkinson here – and good for Newsweek. Takes note of the interesting cultural moment we are in without going all over the top about it. I agree with Geoff J that because many LDS kids grow up with music lessons and because music & dances are a big part of the youth program, that it wouldn’t be surprising we might be overrepresented on talent reality shows. Note, though, that the religious affiliation of Archuleta and White hasn’t actually been mentioned *on* the Idol program at all, which I’m glad of.

  6. Eric Nielson on May 7, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Wholesome, likeable competitors.

  7. Ardis Parshall on May 7, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Wait — Mormon bloc voting brought on murder in Missouri and Nauvoo, and supicion/ridicule in Mitt Romney’s campaign … but it’s cute and quirky on American Idol. There’s progress for you.

  8. Matt W. on May 7, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Weird, do lots of lds people watch tv for FHE?

  9. Russell Arben Fox on May 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

    So I guess we really are just like every other fame-hungry, tv-addicted, interest-bloc-voting modern American after all. Oh joy.

  10. NatC on May 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Sad!

  11. Researcher on May 7, 2008 at 11:03 am

    The American Idol-Mormon story is listed number one on the Newsweek culture page, beating out stories about chronic fatigue syndrome and solar-powered hearing aids. (!)

    (Slow news week.)

  12. David Clark on May 7, 2008 at 11:34 am

    People still watch this crap? Am I to be impressed or saddened that Mormons compete on it and watch it in droves?

  13. Roland on May 7, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    One would think our great number of LDS Boy Scouts would make a strong showing in Survivor and Amazing Race also?

  14. gst on May 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Roland, they would if our scouting programs didn’t suck as hard as they do.

  15. gst on May 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Let’s not forget game shows, either. Though you’d expect that Utah Mormons would excel at any show with the word “pyramid” in the title.

  16. Aaron Brown on May 7, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Here’s a piece of Mormon reality show trivia that I bet you didn’t know:

    Q: Brooke White, recently booted off “American Idol”, was a nanny in her previous life for what other Mormon reality-show T.V. star?

    A: Ryan Benson, winner of “The Biggest Loser” a few years back. (You’ve seen clips of her with Ryan’s twins if you’ve faithfully watched the show).

    AB

  17. Ray on May 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    “You’ve seen clips of her with Ryan’s twins if you’ve faithfully watched the show.”

    According to the article, that would be all of us, would it not? I know we switched our FHE to Tuesday just so we could watch Idol and vote for the Mormons. *shakes head in consternation*

  18. jrl on May 7, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Mormons sucking toes and competing in competitions that include nude photo shoots? Wow. Those compounds in the middle of nowhere are sounding better every day…

  19. StillConfused on May 7, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    I have never gotten into this whole reality TV thing. I did used to watch a paramedic show… can’t remember the name of it. And they had a scene where one of the paramedics had to strip down to his underwear because of a chemical spill and they showed him in garments. I didn’t care for that.

  20. Raymond Takashi Swenson on May 7, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    What about Ken Jennings? Quiz shows are “reality TV” in small bites.

    Every Mormon who plays professional sports has been in Reality TV, artificial contests that create tension about who will win or lose and elicits fan identification and loyalty. Steve Young is certainly up there as a big Mormon Reality TV character.

    One could argue that the very weird extended primary elections season has been a Reality TV show that included a featured Mormon.

    There are very specific reasons why Mormons have been overrepresented in singing and dancing competitions. There are specific programs in Utah that multiple people have come out of. And BYU has played a role in training people in both art and sports.

    Obviously, Ken Jennings genius and Mitt Romney’s talents are more depedent on unique circumstances and inborn abilities.

    But one notes that Jews are overrepresented in standup comedy and performers generally. The stories of the childhood of those performers are replete with performing for family audiences. To the extent that Mormons gain confidence by performing for families and church members and then in larger school and community productions, the Church experience may indeed improve the ability of Mormons to confidently participate in competitions.

    The optimism that we are trained to have in church, that makes us susceptible to wacky investment schemes, may also improve our ability to look confident to those making selections of participants for these programs. I think that confidence, that lets us be parachuted into an unfamiliar situation and take advantage of it, is a real thing that is encouraged by our church culture.

  21. Brigham on May 7, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    My favorite part of the article was the reference to Mormon radar (aka Mo-dar). The strangest part of the article was the reference to Mormon parties and gatherings to vote for Mormon reality tv participants. Who has time for that? Isn’t the three hour block plus our weekday commitments enough for you people? I may be missing something, but that does not really gel with my reality. Seriously, even if a Mormon was going to vote for a reality tv show (itself a stretch for me), do we really have to get together in the same room when we vote for David A. or Marie?!

  22. Carlos U. on May 8, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Hey, good publicity for a change. No complaints from my part. The more people see we’re actually pretty normal, nice people, the better.

  23. John Buffington on May 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    gst

    I know my response is a bit late, but I only lurk here occasionally

    I don’t think our LDS Scouts suck at all.

    Our boys (about thirty or so over the three quorums) are quite well represented in the ranks. We had 8 boys make Eagle last year, and eight will do it this year. Not bad compared to the non-LDS troops. They are great kids, and do a lot of good in the community.

    Not trying to threadjack, but just needed to provide the observation that a lot of people take shots at the LDS Scouts, and I am not sure what this is based on.

  24. John Buffington on May 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    gst

    I know my response is a bit late, but I only lurk here occasionally

    I don’t think our LDS Scouts suck at all.

    Our boys (about thirty or so over the three quorums) are quite well represented in the ranks. We had 8 boys make Eagle last year, and eight will do it this year. Not bad compared to the non-LDS troops. They are great kids, and do a lot of good in the community.

    Not trying to threadjack, but just needed to provide the observation that a lot of people take shots at the LDS Scouts, and I am not sure what this is based on.