Summer Reality: "Force" vs. "Wars"
This summer, for some reason, Monday nights have become the time for reality shows. Two of the newest are “Driving Force” and “Tabloid Wars.”
Anyone who knows anything about NHRA drag racing knows the name John Force. In “Driving Force,” we meet Force’s three beautiful daughters Ashley, Courtney, and Brittany, who are also racers. The show gives us a look at the Force racing business and John’s attempt to raise daughters (He wanted sons.). We also meet Force’s wife, Laurie. Laurie kicked John out seven years ago because she couldn’t live with him anymore (However, they are still married.). You don’t have to watch long to understand why.
I’ve always been a fan of John Force, mainly because of his crazy ways, so it was a little disillusioning to see how much of a jerk he can be. John apparently agrees because in this week’s “TV Guide” he apologizes for his behavior and admits he needs anger management training. Of course, if he had realized that earlier, there wouldn’t be a show since most of the episode I saw consisted of him butting heads with the girls and Laurie. And I’m a little concerned that someone who drinks that much drives a highly combustible car over 300 miles an hour for a living (Of course, maybe being drunk is how you get the nerve to do that.).
“Driving Force” airs new episodes Mondays at 9 p.m. on A&E.
A far superior (and quite different) behind-the-scenes reality show is “Tabloid Wars,” which shows the inner workings of the “New York Daily News.” We see the reporters pursuing stories while trying to stay a step ahead of their bitter rivals, the “New York Post” (thus, the show’s title). One minute they’re pursuing a beating victim, the next they’re looking for Robert DeNiro’s thieving housekeeper.
The star of the show, in my opinion, is Kerry Burke, the paper’s star reporter. The nonchalant way he gets the story is fun to watch and you’ve got to love that thick New York accent. In the premiere, Kerry loses out to the “Post” on the DeNiro story, but he makes up for it by getting the scoop on a racial beating just minutes before the 10:30 p.m. deadline. In this week’s episode, Kerry has to use all his reporting skills to get to the bottom of a cop shooting.
Also in this week’s episode, we meet the most annoying of the “Post” employees, Hudson, a smug gossip columnist (Even “Queer Eye” Carson Kressley blows him off and they’re on the same network!) who admits he’s just using the job to “cut his teeth.” But Hudson gets knocked down a peg when after reporting an incorrect story about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (that the “Post” crucified him for), he’s sent to cover the paper’s free prostate exam event. Though he clearly doesn’t want to be there, he learns a valuable lesson when he meets a man who has lost (or is losing) three family members to cancer.
“Wars” doesn’t go as in-depth as I would like, but it’s a nice snapshot of the HIGHLY competitive world of tabloid journalism, which is definitely different than anything I studied in journalism school.
“Tabloid Wars” airs new episodes Mondays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.