Watched the show, “The Devil’s Plan.”
Much fun. 90% of the time, I don’t know how the games are supposed to function… but I still have much fun watching these game shows. I am busy observing the people.
And this is a Korean reality game show. I only ever watch reality shows in Korean, despite its abundance in English. And I thought about why.
Present conclusion: it’s because I am more interested in the idea of “after the show” than in the show.
Korea is a highly connected, centralized society. The degree to which things are real-time is difficult to imagine for people outside of that society.
The reality show’s reality aspect does not end within the show, no matter how much the show creators and participants want it so. One might argue that the same applies to American shows or shows in English, in general… but nah. I think English speakers, especially when English is the only language they speak, do not understand the degree to which a society can be tight-knit. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the land mass size of a country or the population size. It’s the nature of a one-language-one-(perceived)-culture society that is so tight-knit. It is vastly different from the nature of how English content is consumed and spread throughout the US, Canada, India, Australia, and elsewhere where English isn’t the official language.
And thus, participants in an English reality show do not feel real to me. They frequently behave like there is no such thing as “after the show.”
Whereas, with Korean shows: even with the “ruthlessness” that the show advocates, it’s so evident that the participants had a “before the show” (they know each other directly or indirectly). And now that they participated in the show together, they will most definitely have some form of “after the show.” It’s a competition, but they were in it together, and that forms a tie. They are closer to each other than those they didn’t compete against. The likelihood of them working together in a less competition-like fashion, at some point in the future, is too high for them to behave in a way that makes the “after the show” impossible. The possibility of a Season 2 of the show is just the tip of the iceberg. Thus the participants cannot actually only care about the prize within the show. The prize within the show is the smallest prize they can win.
This makes Korean reality shows more interesting than reality shows in English. (This is mainly because I’m not particularly interested in how humans would “really” behave, if the competition within the show were the end of their lives.) It doesn’t matter whether the show participants are celebrities or non-celebrities.
Meanwhile, English reality show participants have a tendency to just literally do whatever–it makes them seem unreal. Maybe it comes from how they could, theoretically, live anywhere where English is used. The “entire” internet could hate them and they will somehow find work on some remote island by speaking English. (I don’t know if this is still the case these days, but it used to be that it was relatively easy for someone to get a well-paying job as an English “teacher” simply because they were born a English-speaking native; preferably white. You didn’t need to be qualified in English education; you just needed to look white and speak English as a native. Those two points were what sold you in the job market–your whiteness and your nativeness; not your qualifications as an educator in the English language.)
Whereas, Korean participants in Korean shows? If you want to have a career while speaking Korean, you’re gonna stay in Korea. And it is a hyper-connected society of constantly observing eyes, from humans as well as machines. It’s not even that those observing eyes are necessarily judgmental; it’s simply the fact that they are there that changes behavior. There is no such thing as “what happens in the show stays in the show.”
Possibly, similar tendencies are observable in shows in other languages–languages that are specifically spoken in a particular country. Vietnamese and Thai, perhaps. But English–very different vibes. French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and other languages of imperialism that are used across multiple countries and/or continents–not sure.