THE LONG VIEW: Next on Reality TV: Walking Dead Party in America

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Pat Grimes New pic.jpg

While visiting family a few days in the South Bay, I had a few rare encounters.  Some, like the sand and surf, were soothing and lovely.  Others were more perplexing.

My lodgings there included access to cable TV, with a seemingly endless choice of programs, some of which I had never seen before.  I must say, the entertainment industry can currently boast some serious creativity.

While visiting family a few days in the South Bay, I had a few rare encounters.  Some, like the sand and surf, were soothing and lovely.  Others were more perplexing.

My lodgings there included access to cable TV, with a seemingly endless choice of programs, some of which I had never seen before.  I must say, the entertainment industry can currently boast some serious creativity.

There are popular shows that get mentioned quite a bit in the media and in conversation, like “Game of Thrones,” “Empire,” and “The Walking Dead.”  It’s easy to see why there is so much chatter about productions like these; while plotting and jockeying for position in their worlds, the characters are vividly depicted and their stories often twist in unexpected ways.

Other programs follow more predictable storylines.  “NCIS” usually sees the criminal identified and caught before the hour is up while our endearing young physicists generally find hilarity and companionship by episode’s end in “Big Bang Theory.”

The so-called “reality shows” don’t do a lot for me.  Typically, what the participants are doing – extreme cooking, weight loss, home renovation or whatever – and how they are doing it never strike me as all that genuine.  That is, what is being done and why it is done in that manner is dictated by the fact there is a TV show to produce.

But I happened on a spellbinding reality-based mini-series last week.  Thousands of Republican delegates descended on an arena in Cleveland to talk about the United States and how to make it better.

The thing was, the infinite roll of speakers – those giving speeches as well as those interviewed after hearing them – said so many things that conflicted with my experience. All that talk about government being a problem, too many regulations, a lack of opportunity for Americans, and absolute trust in the free market to improve our economic lot and solve our social ills, that simply did not ring true.

Especially tough to believe were the repeated assertions that our nation is more divided than ever (thanks to the failures of the other political party, of course).  Such declarations were little more than an exercise in blaming others for a situation we have all contributed to.

But we are truly not as divided as the simple convention shouting suggested.  In fact, while we Americans have plenty of issues on which we don’t see eye-to-eye, we are currently engaging in more honest discussion of those issues and our differences than in the past.

I dare say, we are collectively acknowledging problems too many of us have previously ignored.  In doing so, we are actually coming together, having difficult discussions because our country is worth that effort.

Next week, another “reality show” will be broadcast when Democrats convene in Philadelphia.  I expect to hear a litany of sloganeering, simplistic solutions, and finger-pointing rivaling what flowed freely at the GOP convention.

None of that stuff should worry us, though, as long as we are willing to look our neighbors in the eye and admit what we have in common.  In the long run, that will be the winning platform for you, me, and all the USA.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com