A&E is a network known for showcasing people with serious disorders. Intervention, Hoarders, and Obsessed are all examples of series that give brief, yet frightening, looks into the lives of people with addictions to drugs and alcohol and those who suffer from paranoia and obsessive compulsive disorder. So, when the network announced its newest reality show, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, you have to wonder how this one fits (or in this case, squeezes) into the lineup.
For regular tabloid readers, Kirstie’s struggle with weight is not a new story. For years, the covers of Star, Us, and People have told her tale of massive weight loss followed almost immediately by immense weight gain. Once known for her acting and looks on shows like Cheers, Kirstie has now become merely reality-fodder on the same level as the “stars” of VH1’s rehab shows. It’s a sad tale for someone who seems to have no way out of her yo-yoing, while her friends merely watch the trainwreck continue.
If you’ve seen Big Life, you’ll know that Kirstie seems to have an entourage of assistants, workers, and friends around her. Like other “reality shows,” its unclear if these are real friends or actors, but they each play their roles well enough on the show. This weekend, I was able to catch an episode of Big Life, in which this posse confronts Kirstie will a “Twittervention” – to stop her obsessive tweeting. While I thought the episode had its moments, and I could see myself enjoying it, it’s hard to find the humor in such a concept when the commercial break is dominated by commercials of girls collapsing in the street and foaming at the mouth on A&E’s other show, Intervention. Is this a sign that A&E is moving away from its current hard-hitting reality genre? Big Life seems like it will be a funny show, but one more fitting for Bravo or E!. Unlike real life, the best thing about reality television is that you can pick which kind of “reality” you want to be a part of – the gritty, gross kind on A&E, or the glossy, over-the-top kind on those other networks. It just gets too complicated (and weird) when you try to mix them together.
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