Halifax
12 min

Popping culture: Alyssa Edwards looks for network for TV show

Looks like Alyssa Edwards's talked-about reality show is homeless, at least for the time being.

After being a hit on RuPaul's Drag Race, Ru and Edwards had teased at the idea of Edwards possibly starring in her own show. Well, World of Wonder, which produces Drag Race, has put together a teaser/trailer/pitch reel of the show, entitled Beyond Belief. Edwards, who also goes by his legal/boy name Justin Johnson, is the star of the show, detailing his life with his family and his dance studio, where he teaches. The show was pitched to Logo, which also airs Drag Race, but it passed on the show.

Watching the clip, however, one can guess why Logo passed on it. It's not necessarily Edwards's/Johnson's fault. He is both charming and quirky and understands how life in front of a camera operates. Unfortunately, the rest of the "cast" members do not necessarily have the same experience or understanding of the intricacies of having their lives broadcast.  

One of the first things documentary or television producers will tell you is that putting a camera in front of people changes the way they act. In the land of reality television shows, people seem to act as if a camera is an excuse to create a caricature of themselves. It's rather unncessary — the producers and editors will probably do that for you. The worst part of it all is that this type of behaviour is now seemingly becoming normalized: self-aggrandization and hyperbole seem to be de rigueur on these shows, whether it be intentional or created on a cutting-room floor.

The truth about reality TV, however, is that we now know this trick. And we're not buying it as much as we used to. Sure, conflict is what makes television engaging, but genuine, internal conflict is what hooks people for longer periods of time. Not television-friendly engineered situations. And what keeps us there are characters like Edwards: funny yet endearingly flawed. Hokey, yet honest (and maybe a little bit earnest).

And that's what will keep us glued to the TV, always and forever.