Last Friday I had the lucky opportunity to attend the taping of The Meredith Vieira Show at NBC Studios, through TheHangNY (If you havent checked that website out yet, do so!). Although I was not familiar with this particular show, I jumped on this unique opportunity to witness how a show is made and what happens “off stage”. And when I arrived there I happened to meet charming fellow Comm663 classmate Yunfei, with whom I had the pleasure to enjoy this experience! To give you a quick heads up on the show, it’s a daytime talk show hosted by Meredith Vieira(ex The Today Show, The View, and Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire), centered on lifestyle and targetting the female 25-54 years old demographic.
Overall attending the live taping was a great and fun experience. You get to watch how a set works: how the technicians, cameramen, directors and all the staff make the magic happen. You can watch the host and stars between takes, and see all the bloopers, fun moments, and even win prizes (I’ll come back to that later). You get to see how the show host basically just comes in at the last second all made up and cute to sit herself on the comfy couch, with few to no consideration towards the whole tehcnical team and all the work they put in. There is also a live band on set, which basically does their own thing (they are great by the way!), and Mrs Vieira barely glances at them. And then as soon as the cameras roll she gushes about “the great band and the wonderful job they do!”. Meredith Vieira had little to no interaction with her audience (some of which had come from all parts of the US to see her!) between takes, only a quick shake of hands at the end. Now I’m not saying this against Meredith Vieira, and I’m sure other hosts are more considerate towards the great teams of people putting in work for the show to happen. But what I want to point out here I guess is the hypocrisy of American television (and television in general).
As an audience member, as soon as you enter the studio, you receive a pep talk and instructions from an audience cheerer/warm-up announcer. That lady will remain with the audience throughout the whole show and especially during commercial breaks. Some people have travelled from far to “be on TV” or “see a celebrity”, 90% of the studio audience were 40-55 years-old overexcited women, almost worshipping Meredith Vieira. The studio audience is treated like cattle (and actually behaves like it). While the cameras are not rolling, upbeat radio hits are playing in the speakers to hype the audience and get us (the sheeps) excited. We are told over and over again to be enthusiastic when applauding and to “freak the hell out” on camera if we win something. We are also offered incentives, from candy (just like good doggies) to small gifts. Simply put, the more simple-minded and dignity-less you appear, the better.
I have always thought TV was like this, but witnessing it directly was a little bit of a shock to me. The way the audience was encouraged to be and the behavior of the show host completely struck me. It is unbelievable the point to which the spectators/consumers will be taken for fools, and how debilitating the media content we are fed is.